Pedal Powered Car Case Laughed Out of Court

A couple months ago we had news of a pedal-powered car being pulled over by the Toronto Police. Artist Michael de Broin had designed the car as part of an exhibit, and had stripped the car (a 1986 Buick Regal) of “superfluous devices” including the engine, suspension, transmission and electrical system. The headlights were even replaced with candles.

On Thursday, Trevor Baldwin, who was driving the car when he was stopped for “operating an unsafe vehicle” had his day in court, and the charges against him were dismissed.

From CBC News:

As the Crown prosecutor tried to make his case Thursday, the court erupted in laughter, and the charges were thrown out.

Baldwin’s legal representative, Terry Fox, said the arresting officer never should have pulled the car over.

“Where’s the evidence it was illegal? There was no objective standard here. Just his opinion is what it was, and that’s not good enough. It’s speculation he based it on,” Fox said outside court.

Pedal Powered Snow Plow

Be green while clearing the fluffy white! That’s the idea behind Kevin Blake’s pedal-powered snowplow. Rather than burning gas and spewing fumes, Blake’s design relies on your quads. Must be a good way to stay warm on cold and snowy winter mornings.

Unlike some of the hair-brained (but really fun) bicycle-lawnmowers, this contraption actually does the job. Blake works as an engineer for Wisconsin-based bicycle manufacturer Trek. Check the cool news footage to see the pedal-plow in action:

PlowNewsFootage Pedal-Powered Snow Plow

As Blake told C3K News:

This started off life as a riding lawnmower, and I took the rear wheels and the gear box and the seat and the front wheels and the steering section up in the front all from the riding lawnmower. “I built the frame, this welded steel frame myself, and bolted everything to it, and then I got some old bike parts. This crank came right off an old bike.

The blades are made out of two separate shovels that I cut and nestled together to make the ‘V’ shape. This handle is actually from one of the shovels so I can lift and lower the plow.

The pedal-plow won a runner-up prize in Specialized’s Innovate or Die program. Other entries included MIT’s pedal-powered supercomputer and the Aquaduct mobile water filtration device.

Via Treehugger.

Australian Cyclists Save Millions in Health Care

A recent report entitled Cycling: Getting Australia Moving indicates that by improving their health, cyclists saved about $227.2 million Australian per year.

Dr Rob Moodie, Professor of Global Health at the University of Melbourne’s
Nossal Institute and author of the report, said “this report demonstrates the considerable benefit offered to individuals and governments by cycling. Addressing the barriers preventing more Australians from cycling will deliver substantial savings to both government and the community.”

Other economic benefits of cycling include a reduction in congestion which saves about $63.9 million AUD and $9.3 million saved by limiting greenhouse gas production and other “externalities.”

The study also makes recommendations about how to encourage more Australians onto two wheels and looks at some of the barriers. While cycling numbers in Oz are on a sharp incline, particularly in Australian cities, “Approximately half the Australian population is insufficiently active, which significantly increases their risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. A lack of physical activity also increases the risk of breast and bowel cancer, depression and anxiety.”

Cycling is a safe activity relative to other sports. Participants are seven times more likely to be hospitalized playing football than riding a bike. The report also echoes the Safety in Numbers phenomenon we’ve covered here before: the more people that ride, the less likely that each individual will be injured.

Australia is increasingly looking to bikes to improve its citizens health and quality of life. Peter Garrett, Environmental Minister, announced a $45,000 grant to develop a national cycling training scheme, to encourage more people to choose two wheeled transportation over four.”

Photo via flickr by Charlie Bubbles.

Tokyo’s plugless plug in hybrid bus

While hybrid buses take a good thing (i.e. mass transit) and make it better by improving efficiency and limiting pollution, plug-in hybrids represent the next step in improving that technology. By allowing buses to get more of their juice from the grid, and less from diesel, emissions are drastically reduced. This fact holds true even when dirty coal is used as the power plant’s energy source – but the beauty of using electricity is that other, greener sources could also be incorporated.

The limit to any plug-in electric or hybrid that is supplemented by grid-power is the plug. Even in the case of the hybrid that can rely on diesel firepower when the batteries run low, maximum efficiency occurs in electric mode. Rather than needing to constantly run back for a recharge,  Hino, the heavy-duty vehicle subsidiary of Toyota, has developed a rather ingenious solution: wireless recharging.

Hino’s new fleet of buses is currently undergoing a two-week testing period at Tokyo’s Haneda airport where the buses cover a 4.2 kilometer route.From

Charging a large amount of electricity quickly without using cords enables the bus to provide longer distance services. For the next two weeks, it will link Haneda’s first, second and international terminals three times in the morning and again in the afternoon, covering a distance of about 4.2 kilometers. Since the bus uses only electricity, carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by about 60 percent compared with regular buses.

Thanks to AutoblogGreen for doing the grunt work and deciphering some of the Japanese explanation of how the charging system works.From AutoblogGreen:

Now, about that cordless charging. Apparently it is using an electromagnetic inductive charging setup. There is a coil on the bottom of the bus and also one embedded in concrete. The efficiency and speed of the charging system is not stated and I couldn’t tell whether or not it employs magnetically coupled resonance.

That’s some cool tech that allows mass transit to run on established roads (with chargers added in) but performs similarly to an electric rail. Seems to me that a fully-electric, rather than a hybrid model, shouldn’t be such a big leap.