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In the opening scene of the 1978 film The Driver, Ryan O'Neal's character (the eponymous driver) rides an unusual and rather dangerous-looking elevator in a multi-storey parking garage.

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The elevator takes the form of a vertical conveyor belt running through circular holes in the floors of the garage. Red handholds and narrow metal platforms are attached to it. There are two handholds between each platform: one at shoulder height and one too high to reach while standing on a platform. Although not shown in the film, when the belt loops around, the positions of the handholds relative to the platforms would switch, allowing one belt to provide both upward and downward travel. Text above each hand hold reads "FACE BELT USE HAND HOLD TO STOP HOLD ROPE".

Apparently, this type of elevator is known as a "manlift" and still produced today (e.g., by the Humphrey Manlift Company).

Were there parking garages (in Los Angeles, where The Driver was filmed, or elsewhere) where members of the public (as opposed to employees, e.g., valets) could use a manlift to travel between floors, or is this scene employing some artistic license?

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According to Chapter XVII (Occupational Safety and Health Admin) Title 29 of The Code of Federal Regulations of the United States of America (1973);

NO.

It is expressly forbidden for members of the public to use these machines, let alone unsupervised.

Section 8 (VI);

if located in buildings to which the public has access, such manlift or manlifts shall be located in an enclosure protecting by self closing spring locked doors. Keys to such doors should be limited to authorized personnel.

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I've seen one, while parking just southeast of Wilshire and Grand. I don't recall the exact location. It looked hella dangerous, and obviously had not been used for some time. I wouldn't be surprised if it were employees only, but I don't recall a sign to that effect.

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