Julio Mottola rides his locobike along a section of the unused rail line at Byron Bay.
Julio Mottola rides his locobike along a section of the unused rail line at Byron Bay.

Locobike may be new tourist attraction

IF RAILWAY authorities don't want to use the line between Lismore and Murwillumbah, Julio Mottola and his mate, Mickel Albert, do.

They have spent more than a year developing their 'locobike', designed to easily run along train tracks.

They want to regularly ride on the now unused rail line for fun, and they also believe there is a great opportunity to develop locobikes as a tourist attraction.

They have covered more than 100km in 'secret' trials on the line from Byron Bay to Mullumbimby, from Mullumbimby to Murwillumbah, and from Bangalow to just south of Old Bangalow Road at Byron Bay, where a landslip blocks the track.

And the trials, said Julio, a jewellery designer who came to Byron Bay from Argentina eight years ago, were an outstanding success.

But Julio and his mate Mickel, who visits Byron Bay regularly from Melbourne, do have a bit of a problem: What they are doing is not quite legal.

They are in discussions with rail authorities who have told them they can apply to use the line - although there is little chance of getting approval.

Which is why the pair has had preliminary talks with a local lawyer, to find a way around the public liability concerns of the authorities.

“We can offer an agreement that we are not going to sue them if there is an accident,” Julio said.

The prototype locobike comprises two bicycles joined by a welded aluminium frame.

Acrylic wheels attached to the front and rear of the lower frame on each side run along the inside of the rails to keep the locobike stable on the tracks.

The acrylic wheels automatically adjust when the track curves.

Julio said pedalling the locobike was easy, because there was little friction: “Once you get going it's like rollerblades.”

Apart from getting approval from authorities, the other big problem the pair faces is lantana growing across the tracks.

Julio said he wanted to gather support from locals who would like to see rail authorities give the locobike the thumbs-up.

Julio can be contacted on 0414 492 766.



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