Smart Energy: May 2017

Smart Energy: Spring Time for Electric Assist Bicycling

By David Reeck

Question: Where else can you combine energy savings with fun and excitement ? Answer: Riding an electric assist bicycle (eBike) in Douglas County in the spring of 2017!

The energy that (partially or fully) powers the eBike can also come entirely from renewable wind power. Pacific Power’s Blue Sky program will enable its customers to purchase 100 percent renewable energy. Ebikes are gentle on the environment!

EBikes are generally a “hybrid” vehicle; the energy can come from a combination of human and electric motor propulsion. And the motor assist is variable; from a little help to all the power you need to climb the hills around Roseburg. So, this type of bicycling is “Exercise when you Want it, and Electric when you Need it”.

The “low-step-thru” type of frames (we don’t call them girls’ bikes anymore) make the mounting and dismounting a piece of cake! Also, a comfortable seat (called saddle in bike-speak), an upright riding position and contoured leather hand grips add to the riding comfort.

These eBikes are designed with the baby boomer age in mind, even if you haven’t been on a bike in decades! They are easy on your knees and hips. The biggest growth in eBike sales in recent years has come from senior citizens and women. Another group of riders includes the millennials who prefer not owning a car, and college students who commute from their residence to class. In many areas of the world, like Amsterdam, you find more electric bike riders than car drivers.

These eBikes are classified by the Oregon Department of Transportation as “non-motorized vehicles,” which means you can ride them on the bike paths, national parks, state parks and forest lands (they are allowed on any path, even those that are posted “motorized vehicles not permitted”). There is still some debate on this topic, as it applies to some of the forest lands. The eBikes are limited to 20 mph assisted speed and, of course, eBikes are very quiet.

In addition, you do not need a driver’s license, registration, license plate or insurance. They are very economical as a commuter vehicle, consuming less than 1 cent per mile of electrical energy! And, since Roseburg is relatively small, you can crisscross the city at least twice on one battery charge. The battery can be recharged like a cellphone or laptop computer from the wall receptacle in about three hours. The electrical energy cost to fully recharge a battery is about 5 cents!

I understand, from people with experience, that those with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s can slow down the disease progression by riding a bicycle, and everyone can improve their health and spirit by riding.

The YMCA offers “spinning” classes to help you get your riding legs in shape, and Marty Fink offers a class for safe riding techniques. Needless to say, everyone should always ride with a helmet and probably a small rear-view mirror that can be mounted to your eyeglasses, helmet or handlebars. Safety is the first step of an enjoyable riding experience.

You can take a test ride before purchasing an eBike. So, get yourself “out and ebout” and enjoy spring 2017!
For more information on electric assist bicycle sales, call 541-817-7225 or see

David Reeck is a retired electrical engineer from the automobile industry who worked on urban mobility, car sharing and electric vehicle projects.

Douglas County Smart Energy is a project of Douglas County Global Warming Coalition. For more information on energy efficiency and renewable energy, visit