Anyone curious about electric bicycles will have the chance to try one out for a few days starting next week.
“There will be an electric bike lending library that’s going to be out of the Godnick Center in Rutland,” said Devon Neary, transportation planner at the Rutland Regional Planning Commission, in an interview Tuesday.
The planning commission and Rutland Recreation and Parks Department have been working with Local Motion, a statewide nonprofit based in Burlington, to promote bicycle use in the Rutland area, said Neary. The aim of the lending library is to promote the private ownership of electric bicycles, or “e-bikes” as they’re commonly called.
He said beginning next week, the lending library will be letting folks borrow one of two e-bikes, which they can sign up check out online at bit.ly/1008ebikes.
E-bikes will be available Tuesday through Thursday, and Friday through Monday time slots, said April Cioffi, program director at Rutland Recreation and Parks Department.
She said using the e-bikes is free. One of them is also set up to accommodate a passenger.
According to Neary, the e-bikes don’t count as a motor vehicle, even though they have an electric motor. The motor assists the rider with pedaling, he said. It has multiple settings, the highest of which has the motor doing much of the work. The brakes, he said, also charge the battery, though it’s primarily charged from a regular wall socket. E-bikes can get between 20 and 40 miles per charge, he said. They sell for anywhere between $1,000 and $6,000.
Neary said if the e-bike lending library is successful, it may return in the future, but the overall goal here is to promote private ownership by educating those interested in the use of e-bikes. Neary said bicycling is drawing large numbers of people to Rutland’s parks, as well as Killington, but comparatively few people are using them to commute or for non-recreational transportation.
During the past several years, the Rutland Regional Planning Commission and Rutland Recreation and Parks Department have promoted bicycle use and safety. Neary said his group has sponsored a bike-to-work day, a bike maintenance workshop, and a traffic garden for children to ride on and learn to handle real-life obstacles. Cioffi said her department has also worked with bikes and has several pedal-less models used to teach children and adults to ride. The department gives away free bicycle helmets and has children enrolled in riding programs and classes.
Neary said some families might be able to replace a car with an e-bike, depending on their needs. The motor function is especially nice in Rutland City where there are numerous hills. People who have mobility issues or just don’t want to show up to work drenched in sweat would see a benefit.
“E-bikes are one of the best solutions to replace car trips,” said Karen Yacos, executive director of Local Motion, in a printed statement.