Martin Krieg makes people smile when they see him riding his HiWheel bicycle, but police are often confounded.
The bike Krieg rides is an antique with a 52-inch diameter front wheel. Krieg, who lives in south Palo Alto, has been stopped three times recently by police officers who wonder if his bike is legal.
But he hasn't been ticketed yet.
"I've been stopped three times in the last few months on my HiWheel for theoretically not being able to brake properly (I cannot reach the ground with my feet), for not stopping long enough and for not having proper lighting," he told friends in an e-mail.
But, as he explains, the HiWheel is legal because it falls outside the California vehicle code definition of a bicycle that is chain, gear or belt driven. It's driven by two pedals. "Technically, it falls through the cracks" in the vehicle code, he said.
Krieg, the national director of National Bicycle Greenway, plans to ride a similar, 1887 bike across the country in 2009. His current bike is only 71 years old.
Krieg has twice ridden across the country, which is a considerable accomplishment since he was in a car wreck almost 30 years ago that left him in a coma. He wasn't supposed to be able to walk again.
He wrote a book about his recovery, "Awake Again," one of three books he has written about bicycling.
Krieg has 30 bikes in his Ramona Street garage but he uses the HiWheel for daily transportation.
"It's good exercise, extremely fun and it makes people smile," he said.
It's also demands a skill set that isn't easy to master. "It cost me a lot of bruises to learn," he said. "You have to be crazy, a little bit."