Toronto's finest pulled over Dean Baldwin in his 1986 Buick Regal and charged him with "operating an unsafe vehicle," noting that the car had no floorboards, engine, transmission or licence plates, although the votive candle headlights, steering, brakes and quadracycle drive were working perfectly.
They were driving to display the car at Mercer Union, an artist run centre in Toronto, where there was to be a solo show of the work of Artist Michel de Broin, designer of the car. He says "I believe there is nothing in the law against this car. The problem is only the perception. Police can't accept a car to be modified and to be moving without gas."
A squad of bicycle cops is seen here pedalling to the scene to provide backup.
Mercer Union tells the story:
The vehicle is part of a solo exhibition by the acclaimed artist, on display at Mercer Union, an artist-run centre in downtown Toronto, from October 24th to December 8th. The car left for it's maiden Toronto voyage on October 25th, the afternoon after the opening reception. Dean Baldwin, brand-new license in hand, took the steering wheel, assisted by Dan Young and gallery Co-Directors Dave Dyment and Elaine Gaito. The public responded with enthusiasm, sympathy and solidarity.
The vehicle was driven nine blocks (from 37 Lisgar Street, to Strachan Ave), before being pulled over by the police. The driver and passengers were left to wait for 30 minutes in the car, presumably while the officers determined which law had, in fact, been broken. They settled on "operating an unsafe vehicle" and a tow-truck was called.
Today Baldwin appeared before a judge and entered a plea of not guilty. A trial has been set for the third of April, at 3pm. The court will have to argue that the Shared Propulsion Car is more dangerous than other vehicles on the road (bicycles, unicycles, roller-skates, rickshaws, skateboards and other "muscle-powered vehicles", in addition to automobiles). In the last 50 years 200,000 Canadians have died in car accidents. No pedal-car deaths have been reported.
Mercer Union and artist Michel de Broin would like to invite you to join us on April 3rd, in courtroom R at 60 Queen Street West, at 3pm. Seating is limited, so please arrive early. With the expectation of winning the right to operate the vehicle on the streets of Toronto, the artwork will be towed to Old City Hall on the morning of April 3rd. We hope to leave the courthouse in victory, and slowly pedal home."
de Broin told the National Post that he plans to be in court and see the case through and hopes it will set a precedent.
"The car is not efficient as a transport vehicle, and it is too ambivalent to serve any cause except one: The right to go slow. The problem for the court will be to argue that the Shared Propulsion Car can be dangerous when we all know the danger remains in the use of petrol cars."
Photos by Benny Zenga. via ::Spacing