Self-propelled travel

Self-propelled travel is a way of travelling using only human powered transport. This includes non-motorized machines such as a bicycle or skateboard.

Self-propelled travel is used to commute short distances or even for much longer distances such as bicycle touring. It involves a conscious decision made by people who realize that self-propelled travel is environmentally sound, the ideal mode of transportation, and that it enhances quality of life at the same time.


Self-propelled can mean one of two things:

  1. that one is self-propelled as soon as one engages in any locomotion even if it involves using any fossil fuel burning vehicles. For example, a person may drive by car to a trail, hike on foot and then proceed home by car.
  2. that one is only self-propelled if travelling without using any fossil fuel burning vehicles at any point.

Self-propulsion has been adopted by some adventurers as the new era of real adventure and exploring. A growing number of outdoor enthusiasts, such as the late Goran Kropp, Tim Harvey, and Colin Angus have achieved major feats entirely by self-propulsion. In 1995, Goran Kropp cycled from Sweden to Mount Everest base camp from which he climbed Everest. He then returned home on bicycle.

The Self-propelled Outdoor Club (SPOC) has formally adopted self-propelled travel as a method for approaching mountaineering and other objectives.

For some, the technological advancements of the present day are undermining challenge, comparing a helicopter ride to the top of a peak to that of getting to that same peak under one's own power. For this, advocates of self-propelled travel can be likened to luddites.

Debate and controversy

Debate regarding which mode of transportation qualifies as self-propelled has been ongoing. For travel on skis, the use of an assisting parachute does not qualify. This was decided by a panel which assessed the recent increase of speed by kite assisted skiers reaching the North Pole and South Pole. Similarly there are questions regarding trips which take advantage of Sailboats.

Critics of such hard-line definitions suggest a double standard is placed on the use of such apparatus. Other critics question using tailwinds or drafting techniques when cycling and suggest that only travel by foot or swimming qualifies.

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