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Easy Rider
Art Olson | Avenida Primavera


Parking enforcement officer, Ben Williams, astride his
A2B Metro e-Bike. Photo Art Olson.  Click to enlarge.


Bicycling as a mode of transportation has a lot of appeal. It is a highly efficient, eco-friendly and a healthy way to travel while still feeling part of the surrounding world. Why should it take 3000 lbs of metal and ever more expensive fossil fuel to get from point A to point B? However, not all of us want to arrive at point B sweaty and fatigued – especially if the trip involves significant hills like those we have in the Del Mar area. Recently an increasing number of people have been considering the advantages of electric bicycles, and it appears to be a growing business in the area – as exemplified by San Diego Electric Bike that recently opened in neighboring Solana Beach, where, according to manager, Pat Winston, a majority of sales are to people 35 and older.
The City of Del Mar has been ahead of the curve in adopting e-bikes. Eric Sandy’s Parking Enforcement Department began to use them about 12 years ago, and they have continued to track the evolution of e-bike technology. Since Del Mar parking enforcement involves both continuously patrolling the commercial and beach areas as well as responses to violations anywhere within the city, an efficient way to get around, especially in heavy traffic is highly desirable. According to Lieutenant Sandy, the City evaluated a number of alternative transportation modes for the parking enforcement officers. Segways were somewhat cumbersome for the task, and horses – well, too messy. Even skateboards and rollerblades were considered – but electric bicycles made the most sense. The first e-bikes that the City acquired were so-called “kit bikes,” bicycles that were retrofitted with electric motors. They tended to be heavy and not easily controlled since they used lead-acid batteries and were not structured for the altered weight distribution of the added battery and motor. They were also difficult to repair – fixing a flat tire on a wheel with a hub motor could take well over an hour.
In the intervening years, as technology advanced and demand grew, purpose-built commercial electric bikes have appeared on the market. They are easier to handle and repair, and have become lighter and more efficient as lithium-ion batteries replace the heavier lead-acid type. Parking enforcement officer, Ben Williams, calls his A2B Metro e-Bike “awesome.” Over the past two years he has put about 7000 miles on the bike, and would consider no other mode of transportation for his job. Using it as much as he does, he praises its design for the comfortable posture it allows, and its maneuverability as he scans the parked cars along the beach area for pay and display compliance. And, biking up to Crest Road to respond to a complaint is a breeze – sometimes amazing onlookers with the ease at which he whizzes up the hill. It is not surprising that the occasional disgruntled parking violator feels that Williams has an unfair advantage.
The more I learn about electric bikes, the more enticing they seem for my own use. There are now models that can fold up and fit in the trunk of a car, or be carried on public transportation or as airplane baggage. Parking away from a crowded city center and e-biking in with no worry about traffic or parking seems especially appealing. Since current e-bikes have a battery range of 20-40 miles, depending on the terrain and how much one chooses to pedal, commuting to work – even up to the Torrey Pines mesa, without breaking a sweat seems a feasible option. At about 4 cents a battery charge, it is certainly the most cost effective and environmentally friendly “easy-ride” around. Don’t be surprised if you see more of our neighbors tooling around town on e-bikes in the near future.



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