Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lawnmower cars in the news

Today's newspaper has a feature on what Larry calls "lawnmower" cars. The actual term is MICROCAR and it turns out there are more than 80,000 of these contraptions in Italy and even more in France. There are two kinds, the really wimpy ones are classed as "light quadricycles" in Italy and are supposed to have less than 50 cc motor, weigh under 350 kg and go only 45 kph. A "heavy quadricycle" can weigh 50 kgs more and have more power. Most of 'em are used by old folks in crowded centers of old towns like Viterbo though more than a few kids have 'em too. And as usual, the kids seem to be the ones having the problems as two were killed recently in accidents caused solely by operator error. TV had a hidden camera bit where they showed a young girl visiting a illegal hop-up shop to have hers made to go faster. The newspaper says it's easy to do, getting them up to 100 kph is common and the fine if you're caught is pretty small. Now politicians are considering taking another look at the laws regarding these things. Cyclists everywhere will rejoice if things are tightened up -- Larry was once almost taken out by one of these things turning left in front of him -- the old guy at the wheel never saw him or looked back as he careened into the side road!

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