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." (Read more ELF bike stories.)