Pedal-power Buick Ruled Safe Enough

pedal power buick ruled safe enough

I'll give TTAC's Canadian readers the bad news first: As the summer driving season approaches, gas prices in Canada are nearing record highs established in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The good news? CTV reports that a recent ruling in Ontario has reversed a ticket issued to a Montreal artist who was charged with driving in unsafe car through downtown Toronto. Michel De Broin took his 1986 Buick, removed the engine, suspension, gearing, electrical systems and floorboards and replaced it all with tea-candles for headlights and a "shared propulsion" pedalling system, where all passengers in the car can contribute to its advancement by pedalling (top speed is 15 km/h, or about 9 mph). Justice Patrick Marum ruled that the Crown had failed to prove the car was dangerous, and the charges of operating an unsafe motor vehicle that De Broin faced were summarily dropped. Take that, Tata! If this ruling sets a precendent, Canada has moved ahead in the race to bring legal, zero-emissions cars to North America.

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  • Samir Syed Samir Syed on Apr 04, 2008
    Don’t think that the hysterical global warming types wouldn’t have us all “driving” these if they could gain the clout needed to do it. I know you're jesting, but I still wonder if using human power isn't horribly inefficient compared to internal combustion. Also, if we had to pedal to work, we'd eat more. Consequently, we'd demand more meat and vegetables, which means more pesticides and fertilizers and distribution of these items using diesel-power trucks. The energy ultimately has to come from somewhere. Though I do appreciate the reduction in energy output needed that is obtained from not using anything electrical like a radio or air conditioning.

  • Durailer Durailer on Apr 04, 2008

    Samir: Good point... I once read somewhere than an SUV-driving vegan has a smaller carbon footprint than a meat-eating cyclist. Back to the Buick, the "car" did have hand brakes that had to be operated by both the driver and the passenger, and since the car came to a stop for the traffic cop, the judge estimated that the brakes were adequate. The defence also contended that this "car" isn't less safe than a horse-and-buggy, which are still legal in these parts. Apparently, the laws of the road are quite arcane...

  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Apr 04, 2008
    I know you’re jesting, but I still wonder if using human power isn’t horribly inefficient compared to internal combustion. Also, if we had to pedal to work, we’d eat more. Consequently, we’d demand more meat and vegetables, which means more pesticides and fertilizers and distribution of these items using diesel-power trucks. The energy ultimately has to come from somewhere. We wouldn't necessarily demand more meat. I bicycle with very little meat in my diet, and most of my vegetables are organic. Furthermore, the average person cycling to work on flat terrain isn't going to be using much energy at all, and the bicycle is well known to be by far the most efficient means of transport in the entire animal kingdom, far better than a motorcycle, any kind of bird, a sleek gazelle, etc. 500 calories--about 1/5th what the average relatively sedentary adult male needs, will fuel an hour of vigorous exercise. Anyway, kudos to the judge for letting the Buick ride. It may be a b it of an impediment to traffic, but I don't think we're going to see a stampede to convert more of these things, and it certainly adds a certain je ne sais quoi to one of the premier cities of our Northern Neighbor. eh?

  • 50merc 50merc on Apr 04, 2008

    N85523: "Can you imagine this on the streets of San Francisco?" It'd be hilarious (for those watching). Hollywood better snap up the rights to this idea.

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