This article is from Kelowna Now.
Cruising around town, hair blowing in the wind, basking in the beautiful Okanagan Spring and Summer time sun: no, it’s not a convertible, it’s the City of Kelowna Electric Bike Fleet and they’re working hard to beautify the City, save money, and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
They go by the name of Electric Assist Bikes, and they’re changing the way civic operations are conducted throughout Kelowna. Running in part with a pint-sized electric motor along with some good old fashioned human leg power, the electric assist bikes allow for City employees to roam around town and complete their daily tasks with ease and efficiency.
In a conversation with Alf Soros, the Fleet Services Supervisor for the City of Kelowna, he said the bikes are a great investment for the City and are incredibly helpful for the employees.
Living in a mountainous, desert region, commuting around town on a manual bike can be exhausting and uncomfortable from the hot summer heat. However, with an electric assist bike, employees have the option of utilizing a little boost every now and again.
Soros said employees typically peddle where they can and then use the motor to zoom up hills with ease. Running on a full charge, these wonder bikes can motor for at least 50 kilometres. After a day’s work, City employees simply plug their bikes into a docking station for a nightly charge.
“They’re green and environmentally sound as far as greenhouse gas reduction and lowering costs,” said Soros. “Plus, the employees like to use them.”
So far, the City has acquired 12 regular pedal bikes and three electric assist bikes. The electric assist bikes are utilized by several City departments including parks and the sidewalk inspection department.
These futuristic bikes have proven beneficial for both departments. Park employees no longer have to struggle to find parking and the electric assist bikes have cut the sidewalk inspection program down by more than half.
The idea was sparked around four to five years ago and a pilot program was kicked off in 2013.
The City of Kelowna is dusting off their bike fleet for the upcoming summer season and Soros said depending on weather, they’ll be hitting Kelowna’s streets by mid March.