Last year, electric bicycle company, EVELO made a two-person, 4,000 mile trans-America ride stopping in 10 metropolitan areas to help promote electric bikes as a viable alternative form of transport. The trip was a success; the bikes and riders held up to the challenge, and along the way, proved that for this type of electric vehicle at least, range-anxiety is of no concern.
This year, EVELO founder, Boris Mordkovich, continues his quest to get the word out about electric bicycles, but is taking a different approach by kicking off the 30-day electric bike challenge beginning on May 1st. Applicants will have a chance to give up their car, receive an e-bike for a month, and in return, write a blog about their experiences on the company's website.
Although last year's trans-America trip proved what's possible on an e-bike, it didn't really represent the way they would be used on a daily basis. As such, if the goal is to get people out of their cars, EVELO decided the best way to do that would be to put their bike in the hands of a select group of people, let them see how they integrate them into their daily lives, and provide them with the forum to share that experience with others. As well as writing a blog, EVELO also plans to get local media involved to interview participants in the cities in which they live.
EVELO is aiming to recruit participants in 10 cities across the U.S. over the next two weeks. When I asked Boris what type of people they hope will participate, he told me, "We don't want to preach to the converted." He went on to say, "What we have noticed is that there are people who might be thinking about electric bikes, but before they spend $1,500 or $2,000 on a purchase, they want to know if it fits their lifestyle."
With this in mind, the aim is to appeal to people who predominantly use their car for daily transportation at the moment, but who are actively thinking about their commuting options. Candidates probably aren't regular cyclists, but have a commuting profile of between 5 and 20 miles each way, placing them in the sweet-spot of the type of journeys e-bikes do best. They also want people who are pretty committed to keeping their cars parked for the duration of the challenge.
In the electric vehicle world, media attention is predominantly devoted towards electric cars, but Boris makes the point that, "Electric bikes are to some degree, the best selling electric vehicles in the world, that nobody knows about." Adding that in many parts of the world such as Europe and Asia, they are extremely popular, "but just not in the U.S."
He feels efforts to raise the profile in America should be enhanced by the fact that e-bikes offer a lot of the benefits of electric cars, without many of the significant drawbacks. Boris points out, "The biggest problem you have with electric cars is charging, both in terms of the time it takes and the availability of chargers," especially when you live in an apartment building. "With an electric bike, you really don't have any of those problems."
The outcome EVELO would like to see from the 30-day challenge is that participants will go beyond 30 days and continue to use an e-bike instead of their car on an ongoing basis. Also, the company plans to run the challenge annually, and would love other e-bike companies to take part as well, so that they will be able to offer the experience to a greater number of people in a greater number of cities. Beyond that, Boris hopes the electric bike challenge website will become a valuable information resource for those considering making the jump to an e-bike as their daily means of getting around.
Phil Covington holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School. In the past, he spent 16 years in the freight transportation and logistics industry. Today, Phil's writing focuses on transportation, forestry, technology and matters of sustainability in business.