By Christine Osborne
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has consistently demonstrated its commitment to reducing air pollution by encouraging employee vanpools, issuing free Eco-Pass annual transit passes to all employees, and providing lockers and changing rooms for bike commuters. We brought hybrid cars, then electric vehicles, into our fleet. And now we’re ready to take that commitment to the next level: adding electric bikes (eBikes) to the environmentally friendly transportation options we offer our employees.
Why add eBikes to the fleet? Well, the beauty of an eBike is that it pairs the emission-reduction benefits of bike with the convenience of a motorized vehicle. Want to go to a meeting downtown but don’t want to arrive all sweaty? An eBike will get you there feeling crisp and polished even if you’re wearing a suit, skirt, or heels. The battery-powered electric motor can provide as much, or as little, assistance as you want. It’s like an electric scooter with pedals. Employees can use their own pedal-power on the flat stretches and get a little (or big) push when they head up State Street for a meeting at the Capitol.
Chamonix Larsen, Utah’s Resource Stewardship Coordinator, hosted an eBike event last week at DEQ so employees could take a spin on the super-charged bikes. Division of Fleet Operations Director Jeff Mottishaw was also on hand to provide instructions and tips for safe eBike riding.
We spoke with a few of the DEQ employees who came by to try out the newest addition to our fleet.
Here’s what they had to say:
“What a great way to get to meetings!” Pat Sheehan, Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control
“My husband and I used to have electric bikes. They are awesome! You can set them to a particular speed and use the power-assist when you get to the hills. We enjoyed passing the road bikes climbing the hill to our house.” Kate Johnson, Division of Drinking Water
“I’m excited to try one out. It will be nice to have the option to get around without driving my car. I’m looking forward to using the eBike to go to meetings at DNR and to our sampling warehouse.” Lenora Sullivan, Division of Water Quality
“DEQ will really benefit from these eBikes. They’ll help us protect our air quality and provide our employees with a convenient way to get to meetings or go to lunch. It will be a great addition to our fleet. I plan to use it!” Brad Johnson, Deputy Director, DEQ
Brock LeBaron, Division of Air Quality, summed it up best:
“I like to be out in the air and feel the breeze on a warm day, which is why I bike for fun and exercise. I really enjoyed trying the eBike out, and I plan to use it for meetings. Best of all, it puts you on a Tour de France level without the doping.”
So don’t be surprised if you see our deputy director or a scientist sporting a DEQ shirt whizzing past you on an eBike while you’re stuck in downtown traffic. We hope that seeing us on our eBikes will encourage you to try one for yourself!
Want to learn more about ways the State of Utah has incorporated eBikes into its fleet? Check out Chamonix Larsen’s guest blog about the State of Utah Division of Fleet Operations pilot program that brought eBikes to the State Capitol. These bikes, funded through a partnership grant with the Utah Clean Air Coalition (UCAIR), have been a big hit with Capitol Hill employees. Thinking about getting an electric bike yourself? Listen to what Peter Eland of Electric Bike magazine has to say about the benefits of electric bikes in this BikeHub blog.
I am a content strategist/communication specialist at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. I have a Masters in Strategic Communication (MSC) degree from Westminster College and earned my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). I currently teach Integrated Marketing Communication to graduate students in the MSC program at Westminster. In a previous life, I was a bassoonist with the Utah Symphony for 26 years. I love to hike, bike, camp, read, garden, geek out on all things science, and spend time with two teenage sons. I volunteer with a number of local refugee organizations.