People-Powered Bus would Eliminate Pollution

Tom Osher believes worries over the possibility of Y2K-related
energy interruptions make the timing right for his low-cost,
energy-efficient, nonpolluting mass transit solution — the pedal

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

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

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 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

Contacts: Tom Osher, San Francisco, Calif., 415-824-4214;

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