Outline of VW Bug with bike inside


An attempt to expose automobile inefficiency and inspire more planet compatible transport.


A 1971 VW bug converted to pedal power. No fossil fuel, no electricity, just human power. Both the driver and passenger can power the car by pedalling, but only the driver can steer and brake. The vehicle weighs about 900lbs empty (or 400kg, about 1/4 the weight of an average modern car). It moves slowly and is a "useless" car.


I want people to experience how much effort it takes to move a car. Cars are ubiquitous in our society, yet we rarely stop to consider the physics of these machines. Modern cars are heavy and fast, and consume a lot of energy. Electric vehicles produce fewer emissions than fossil fuel vehicles, but they still require a lot of energy compared to other types of transport.

Our world is quickly becoming too hot, largely due to the burning of fossil fuels. If society continues to emit massive amounts of greenhouse gases we will cause irreversible damage to the planet and its inhabitants. The WHO states that Climate Change is the biggest health threat facing humanity, and "the people whose health is being harmed first and worst by the climate crisis are the people who contribute least to its causes, and who are least able to protect themselves and their families against it— people in low-income and disadvantaged countries and communities".

Many of us have the financial and societal means of choosing more efficient transport options, but don't. The goal of this project is to get more people to think critically about their energy consumption. Hopefully this leads to more people considering, using, and advocating for car alternatives. Bikes (electric or manual), buses, trains, walking, handcycles, horses, rowboats, ferries, subways, gondolas, scooters, carpools, and many other forms of transport consume less energy per mile than personal cars.

Additional Links


  • Paola for the awesome paint job!
  • Andrew and Greg at Silicon Valley Bike Exchange
  • Kyle and Miles at Bicycle Law
  • Leo, Letti, the Matts, Kobi, Karoun, Roger, Neil, Peter, Christine, Marta, and the many others who have helped, both physically and emotionally!
  • Mom and Dad for their driveway and patience!

Collaboration Opportunities

Please reach out if you or your organization would like to use the bike car for a classroom demonstration, parade, peaceful protest, or other event!

I am also searching for individuals who'd like to ride the useless car a long ways very slowly (aka fellow bike wierdos). Someday I'd like to bike the car across the country, or at least to LA. This would be a long endeavour, average speed is about 4-6mph (6-10kph) with two people pedalling. If this sounds appealing to you, please get in touch!


Eric Schmidt

San Francisco, California, USA



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