On his bike but not in the shade

CYCLIST Patrick McGovern left other motorists in the shade when he steered the world's first solar powered three-wheeled pedal rickshaw.Mr McGovern, 29, of Bredfield Street, Woodbridge, has travelled 130 miles in the unique environmentally friendly transport from Birmingham to London.

CYCLIST Patrick McGovern left other motorists in the shade when he steered the world's first solar-powered three-wheeled pedal rickshaw.

Mr McGovern, 29, of Bredfield Street, Woodbridge, has travelled 130 miles in the unique environmentally friendly transport from Birmingham to London.

He said: ''It was fantastic and I got such a buzz out of it. The reaction of people was great and to be cycling a world's first made it feel extra special. It was an odd thing to do, but I was at the forefront of technology.

''We had a lot of interest from other people on the roads. There was a lot of waving and cheering although one or two people told us to get off the road.''


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Mr McGovern cycled 100 miles on his fixed wheel bicycle from London to Woodbridge in June to raise money for a special school.

But it was the challenge of cycling the rickshaw that really appealed to the environmental studies student at Suffolk College.

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Mr McGovern, who also owns a unicycle, is a barman at the Thomas Seckford pub, Woodbridge. He heard about the rickshaw project through a media contact.

Collinda Ltd, promoters of solar powered transport, had 31 days to design and build a solar rickshaw for the BBC Tomorrow's World roadshow at the NEC, Birmingham, and Earls Court, London. A four-wheeled rickshaw for testing in India had been built and a new design was urgently required for the roadshow and next year's solar rally.

The yellow, steel rickshaw is based on the pedicab, a cycle taxi used in London. It has two BP 85watt solar panels on the roof and the energy from light and sun is stored in two Hawker batteries for use in a Briggs and Stratton Etec electric motor.

The cyclist can use the motor, the pedals or a combination of both to reach a top speed of between 15 and 30 mph in the three-wheeled rickshaw. The vehicle can be used in the dark by the driver cycling or using the batteries' stored power and it can accommodate three passengers. The one-off design cost £7,000.

The aim of the project was to prove the invention could work.

The design could be ideal in sunny India where noisy and smelly auto-rickshaws consume fossil fuels which emit carbon dioxide and contribute to global warming. A solar rickshaw saves 10 tonnes annually of carbon dioxide emissions.

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