When a bicycle is not a bicycle: Man fined in Cork court after engine the strength of a leaf-blower attached to bike 

When a bicycle is not a bicycle: Man fined in Cork court after engine the strength of a leaf-blower attached to bike 

The man said the engine was the same strength as a leaf-blower engine. Stock image. 

A cyclist who thought that the engine of a leaf-blower being attached to his bicycle did not make it a mechanically propelled vehicle accepts now that it does make it a vehicle liable for tax and insurance.

At the time the young man thought that once a bicycle always a bicycle irrespective of the mechanical augmentation. A garda who saw him whizzing through Cork city on the bike took a different view.

Judge Olann Kelleher said to the young man - Willian Dos Santos – “It is an mpv (mechanically propelled vehicle) as per the evidence given. Do you accept now you cannot use the bike without insurance or tax?” 

The cyclist said he now accepted that and added, “Since then I have not used it.” 

Judge Kelleher said, “I believe you did not realise you could not do what you did. I do believe he is genuine. There are exceptional circumstances.” 

The defendant faced charges of having no insurance, no tax and no licence. The judge said that in fairness to the young man he would strike out the insurance and tax charges and fine him €100 for having no driving licence.

The question of when a bicycle is not a bicycle was fully debated when the case first came up earlier this year. The judge adjourned it until now for the defendant to take legal advice.

It all started when Garda Paul Lynch witnessed the bicycle or vehicle being cycled or driven on Washington Street, Cork, on to Grand Parade and St. Patrick’s Street on January 26.

At first it looked like a high speed mountain bike but when Garda Lynch stopped the cyclist and examined it, he saw that there was a 50cc engine attached to the pedal bike.

“It was a homemade contraption. I believe it was an m.p.v.,” Garda Lynch said at Cork District Court.

Garda Lynch prosecuted 28-year-old Willian Dos Santos of Lancaster Quay, Cork, on two charges of having neither licence nor insurance for the ‘vehicle’.

Willian Dos Santos said of the garda evidence, “What he said is true. He stopped me.” 

However, when Judge Olann Kelleher put it to him that he was “driving at speed,” he replied in relation to the power of the contraption that, “It is weak, not strong. You have to use the pedal for the engine to engage.” 

He said it was as strong as a leaf-blower engine.

Garda Lynch said he brought it for a test drive after seizing it from the defendant and said there was a throttle on it and it was not necessary to pedal it to get the engine going. 

He added, “It is a petrol engine.” 

Willian Dos Santos said he bought it from a guy who delivered food and this previous owner put the engine on it. The defendant said he thought it was a bicycle and did not know it had become a vehicle since the engine was attached.

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