Houston man saves money on commute with bicycle car

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by Shern-Min Chow / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on May 7, 2014 at 5:53 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 7 at 5:53 PM

HOUSTON -- Friday is “Bike to Work Day” and one Houston man does just that daily in a new bike-car hybrid.  He’s saving thousands of dollars a year, riding this first of its kind vehicle in Houston.

Johnny Havens goes to work every morning, just like everyone else.  Well, it’s not exactly like everyone else. He rides a bicycle car three miles to his downtown office at the big time Baker & Botts law firm; no Mercedes or Lexus for this attorney.
 
“He’s different … I don’t know what else to tell you,” Fellow lawyer Shane Pennington joked.

Ribbing aside from colleagues, Havens is actually a trendsetter, like comedian Jerry Seinfeld who also just bought an ELF bike car.  There are only 300 ELFs in the U.S. now and Johnny owns the first in Houston.

The married father of three put the pedal to the metal for the bottom line.  He parks his car at the bike rack for free.   No parking, no gas, no car insurance.

The savings adds up.

“Saves about $300 to $400 a month, yeah pretty significant,” he said.

There's a solar panel or a plug to recharge the electric motor.  Organic Transit charges $5,000 for the ELF.  You order online and wait a few months for it to be made and shipped to you. 

It’s cute, but not very big in contrast to an 18-wheeler that rumbled by. 

“I’m pretty cautious. I served Iraqi forces, I think I assess risk differently,” Havens said.

He drives surface streets only.  As for speed:

“It goes 20 on an electric motor. It goes 30 when you pedal with it,” he said.

Legally the ELF is a bike, so the rider doesn’t need a driver’s license to operate it.

Havens turns heads when he pedals to and from work. He is betting Houstonians will be seeing a lot more of the bike cars soon.

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