Sunday, October 08, 2006

Local inventor’s ‘bike’ can do 35 mph, but what exactly is it? |

Local inventor’s ‘bike’ can do 35 mph, but what exactly is it?

A newspaper does a story on a local inventor of electric bikes, with an emphasis on the shady legal area this form of transportation resides in. I'm glad that people are really begining to realize that we need to expand our thinking both in the realm of legal issues, and in urban planning to include "alternative transportation." This is an issue that the Dragon has harped on before, and will certainly harp on again.

City prosecutor Jerry Little said it’s a common thing these days for him to come across a hard-to-classify vehicle. The other day, he said, he took a case to trial in which a KU employee received a ticket for riding a “Gator”-style utility vehicle on the streets on campus. The judge found it had to be registered, he said.
As for the kinds of bikes Christensen is building, Little said he couldn’t make a call on them immediately.
“It’s a complex issue. We have to look at the standard traffic ordinance, all the various definitions and figure out if it falls into one of those categories,” he said. “My guess is it’s going to fall within the definition of a vehicle, and as a vehicle they have to be registered. That’s subject to interpretation by a court, I guess.”

Christensen said he hasn’t researched the laws in detail, but that a love of speed and the spirit of innovation are what drives him.
“I’m coming from a little bit of a hot-rod, farm-boy and inventor viewpoint, and just sort of going for it,” said Christensen, who also has a master’s degree in sculpture. “At some point, the state is going to have to start dealing with alternative formats in a vehicle. They’re not going to do that if nobody ever makes use of what we have.”

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