Is it a bike? Is it a car? Neither? Both?

By Stephen Gyor

I was standing outside of my office the other day, and I spotted an odd, egg-shaped vehicle — it looked part bicycle, part Car2Go, and included solar panels on the roof. Quite strange!

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I did a bit of research and apparently this egg-shaped tricycle, called the ELF by its manufacturer, Organic Transit, can be powered by an electric engine when needed or by using pedals just like a bicycle. According to Organic Transit, “The spacious interior keeps you out of the elements and in view of other drivers. [You can] get power through the solar panels or simply charge the batteries by plugging into a socket. ” The ELF’s exterior also includes lights, signals, and a mirror.

According to Organic Transit, the top allowable speed using the electric motor only is 20 mph on a flat surface. ELF owners can travel faster by pedaling — some can get up to 30 mph — but the ELF is designed for use under 30 mph. The ELF is relatively lightweight (100 lbs.) and is made mostly of recycled plastic and aluminum.

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A vehicle like the ELF prompts a ton of questions. Could the ELF use bike lanes or car lanes or both? Should it be parked in bike spaces or car spaces? The ELF looks rather large to park in a bike space (not much smaller than the Car2Go parked nearby), and yet the one I saw was parked on the sidewalk.

So what do you think about the ELF? Is this type of hybrid human/solar powered vehicle the wave of the future?

4 thoughts on “Is it a bike? Is it a car? Neither? Both?

  1. Like any electric bicycle in the District of Columbia, an Elf is permitted to use on-street bike lanes.

    • @Charlie I agree the law allows it, but does it work? How about a four-seater?

  2. Seems too wide to share a two-way cycletrack or shared use path with bikes passing in the opposite direction. With the appropriate lights and signals, I’d drive it in a vehicle lane before I’d try to squeeze through a bike lane. Electric-assist should help to get it going from a stop light. Cool ride!

  3. Since I’ve not seen these in person, it makes me wonder whether this a real thing that some people are actually using – or just clever placement as a way of marketing its newness.

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