Mark Stewart turns quite a few heads as he zips through the streets on his neon green ELF bike. What he's driving looks like a cross between a bicycle and a car, the closest thing yet to Fred Flintstone's footmobile, only with solar panels and a futuristic shape. The ELF can go up to 30 mph, combining pedal and electric power, and reach 20 mph on electric power alone. Stewart, a 65-year-old from Cambridge, Mass., took the summer off to drive his new ELF bike more than 1,200 miles on trails and roads using the East Coast Greenway, a bike and pedestrian trail that runs from Canada to Key West.
The ELF, or "Organic Transit Vehicle," can go for 1,800 miles on the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline. Besides the cost of the occasional new tire, the ELF runs completely off what it costs to charge its battery. Stewart bought the ELF from Durham-based Organic Transit, which sells them for a base price of $5,000. The company is working on its 75th bike, with more than 200 already sold or reserved with a deposit. "A lot of cops have gone by me (and) no one's said boo," says Stewart. "They'll look, they're interested but they don't question its right to be on the road."