Electric-assist cargo trike arrives on campus

Western Today staff

Bicycles are joyful, efficient transportation machines—especially the new electric-assist cargo trike that recently arrived on campus.  With an electric motor, 400wh battery, and a spacious locking cargo box, this is no ordinary trike.  Now that winter quarter has begun, student employees of the Associated Students Publicity Center will deliver newspapers throughout campus with the trike.

The trike has come to campus as part of a Sustainable Action Fund grant to supply campus with a small fleet of electric bikes to advance goals related to health and environmental impact.  The Viking ebike project team is comprised of staff advisers Beth Hartsoch (Office of Survey Research), Jenny Hoover (Western Foundation) and Rachael Morris (Sustainable Transportation), along with students Alec Darr (Vehicle Research Institute) and Josh Kirsch (Campus Bike Educator).

Jeff Bates, the AS Publicity Center supervisor, is enthusiastic about the opportunity to use the trike.

"We're excited to offset our current use of a truck to deliver The AS Review and NY Times across campus while offering staff a healthier and more fun and convenient way to do their jobs,” Bates said. “This is more than a super cool toy though; it’s a springboard for people to visualize a lifestyle with less time in the car."

The trike offers a healthy activity, reduction of space and cost, and stewardship of the environment, he added.

"I'm anticipating big smiles from the crew, and lots of interest from students, staff and faculty."

A main goal of the grant is to demonstrate that ebikes can displace vehicles for many trips made by Western community members, reducing costs, parking demand and environmental impact while providing health benefits for riders.

Although the Publicity Center will be the primary user of the trike, the Viking ebike team will be conducting demos of the trike at various locations around campus during winter quarter. Staff, students and faculty will get the chance to test ride the trike to see how a purpose-built bike could meet their needs. Details of these demos will be on the team's Facebook page and blog as they are finalized.

As part of the grant, the Viking ebike team also purchased electric commuter bikes to transport faculty, staff and student commuters to and from campus. Off-campus offices are being especially targeted to replace fleet vehicles with bicycles for meetings and work assignments that require transport to campus. Commuters will be able to check out the ebikes for short or long periods of time in exchange for tracking their usage, blogging about their experience and responding to several surveys.

The modern electric-assist technology in these bikes will allow Western’s community to adopt bikes for applications that were previously prohibited by hills, fitness levels and cargo needs.

"People want to ride, but Sehome Hill is no joke," Hartsoch said. "With modern electric assist technology and creative cargo bike solutions, we can normalize bicycles as transportation solutions, even if you’re not an uber-athlete, even atop Sehome Hill. It's the only kind of cheating allowed at Western."

More ebikes will be arriving on campus soon.  For now, give a friendly wave to anyone you see on the big, white cargo trike wheeling around campus. The addition of these ebikes to campus will help Western work towards a more sustainable, fit and happy community.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016