Constructed out of cheap recycled materials, the pedal bus would seat, or saddle up, about 50 people, San Francisco resident Osher writes in the bus's specificiations.
Self-employed Osher, 54, who has a small haulage business, posts many low-tech ideas on his web site www.bagelhole.org.
As with a regular bus, the pedal bus would have a driver to steer the vehicle and shift gears. Passengers would ride free in exchange for pedaling to make the bus move, and a battery would provide backup power for times when there is insufficient people-power, he wrote. There could be music to keep up pedaling morale.
Osher acknowledged that the notorious hills of his hometown could pose a challenge to even the strongest pedaling passengers, but he said he envisaged a route from downtown to the Mission District, which is relatively flat.
The engineering challenges for such a bus include designing an appropriate brake system, converting pedaling into electricity and building a vehicle light enough to be powered by the collective stamina of its passengers, Osher said.
If adopted internationally, such a bus could take advantage of inexpensive local construction materials. For example, in some countries, the body could be built of bamboo, he said.
People with ideas for the pedal bus design can send their suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or, by mail, to 1514 Innes Ave., San Francisco, Calif., 94124.
Osher said the idea is to put together a feasible design and then promote it as an alternative to the current pollution-producing forms of public transportation. 'We just want to make it so anyone could (build one),' he said.
Asked whether every passenger had to be fit enough to pedal, Osher said if someone unable to pedal for some reason wanted a ride, he hoped the driver would be kind enough to let them on board.
Contacts: Tom Osher, San Francisco, Calif., 415-824-4214; e-mail: www.bagelhole.org.
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