Our story began
by Rod Miner
Long before Lightfoot’s 1998 incorporation, with design work done by Earl Miner in the 1960’s. Earl designed mechanical systems for industry and the air force, but on weekends and evenings he worked to conceive and develop tools and vehicles for the disadvantaged and handicapped.
Earl Miner’s TRAG vehicle was a compact 5-horsepower, quarter-ton-capacity, 3-wheel truck for developing nations, which converted into both a tractor and a 2-wheel trail bike ambulance. TRAG factories were started in Rhodesia by Earl and in Peru by his son Rodney, and these vehicles eventually found use in 60 countries worldwide.
In 1996, Earl concieved and Rod developed the PET handcycle for survivors of land-mine explosions. People crippled by war or disease and accident, resigned to dragging themselves through the dust and mud of impoverished rural lands, regained mobility, financial self-sufficiency and social stature through the gift of a sturdy PET (“Personal Energy Transportation”) hand-cranked tricycle, in which they could carry their small children, tools for their trade and goods for market. Now built by a volunteer corps, about 50,000 PET’s have been distributed (see giftofmobility.org). The World Health Organization estimated in 2003 that 20 million persons in need of handtrikes and wheelchairs worldwide were still without, and the UN has stated that such a vehicle, for these people, is a precondition to enjoying equal opportunity and rights.
Rod built his first recumbent bicycle in 1983–a bike still on the road today–to help him regain the enjoyment of bicycling after a neck injury. Since that time we have designed over 50 distinct human-powered-vehicle models, including velomobiles, quadracycles, handcycles and recumbent bicycle models. Some were for our own line and some were built contractually for other enterprises. We have focused on creating vehicles that combine utility and sport, and that can be used by almost anybody, even those with special physical requirements.
A Little Lightfoot Goes A Long Way! Lightfoot cycles can be found on remote Pacific islands, in Angolan deserts, pedaling happily along dirt roads in Belize, adventuring in the Australian outback and roamin’ in the gloamin’ of Scottish highlands. Our recumbent mountain bikes have traversed the Sierra Nevada range and the Rocky Mountains, plowed through Alaskan snows, and have traveled the US continental divide. A Lightfoot handcycle has been ridden across the continent. One of our electrically-assisted velomobiles has crossed the 48 states from coast to coast. At least one Lightfooter has circumnavigated the 48 states. Every day of the year, Lightfoot-designed bicycles, tricycles and quadracycles succeed in safely and efficiently transporting thousands of people from home to work and school, across town and far beyond.
It remains our goal to create a socially and ecologically responsible enterprise, and to create a product that enhances the health of people and the living planet.