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The new YazMobile

Yaztromo (655250) writes | more than 6 years ago

Transportation 7

Gas prices here on the island have finally surpassed $1.50/L, thanks in part to the new BC Carbon Tax coming into effect on July 1st (which, FYI, I fully support). As I'm driving a '97 Chevy Lumina V6 Sedan with a 60L gas tank, if I were to drive everywhere our gas budget would be huge. Never mind the fact that parking is pretty expensive at the University. As such, for the past 6 months or so, Gigi and I have been taking the bus whenever we don't need to transport a sufficient quantity of

Gas prices here on the island have finally surpassed $1.50/L, thanks in part to the new BC Carbon Tax coming into effect on July 1st (which, FYI, I fully support). As I'm driving a '97 Chevy Lumina V6 Sedan with a 60L gas tank, if I were to drive everywhere our gas budget would be huge. Never mind the fact that parking is pretty expensive at the University. As such, for the past 6 months or so, Gigi and I have been taking the bus whenever we don't need to transport a sufficient quantity of goods (such as doing a big grocery trip). This works for us right now as we're still registered as grad students at the University, and have a bus pass included in our tuition that is significantly cheaper than the usual pass.

The bus, however, isn't exactly a speedy way to get around from our place. You waste a lot of time walking to the nearest bus stop, then waiting for the bus, riding on the bus (as it stops at nearly every stop to let people on or off), transferring to one or more other buses if we're trying to get anywhere more interesting than the University...etc.

I'm finishing up my thesis this month (defending in late August is everything goes well), and have accepted a full-time development job here on the island starting August 5th at a location only about 6km from our place, and so I decided to take a look at alternate forms of transportation. I settled upon and purchased a GWEV Super 8 electric scooter. And let me tell you -- this thing is just so much fun to drive around the city I keep looking for excuses to get out on it. I've been using it between home and the University for the past week, and its significantly faster than the bus, with less expense (or hassles) that driving the car (and nearly as quick so long as I don't have to get on a highway). As the Province of BC classifies it as a Motor Assisted Cycle, it can be driven anywhere you can ride a bicycle, and can be parked anywhere you can park a bicycle. It only costs about 15 to fully charge the battery from empty, and in our case we're not even paying that -- our building management has given us a special underground, secure parking spot next to a concrete support pillar with an electrical outlet for free -- so they're paying for the electricity.

Some people do look at me a bit oddly now and then -- mostly people who mistake it for a gas powered scooter and think I can't park it on sidewalks and such. It's also less than whisper-quiet -- even under power, about all you can hear is the sound of the rubber meeting the pavement.

When I bought it, as the dealership is downtown, Gigi and I went in the Lumina, but as the bike is too big to put into the car, I had to ride it home. The dealership had it fully charged and ready for me, so Gigi and I left at the same time (me on the bike, her in our car). We had a ~6km trip home each -- she taking the roads, and I taking an old railbed which has been converted into a cycling trail through the city. We got home at exactly the same time.

I can't recommend this gem of a vehicle highly enough. Obviously, it's mostly useful in an urban area with good cycling infrastructure (and legislation which permits you to ride it anywhere a bicycle can). I keep looking for excuses to get out and go for a ride, and now that I don't have to worry about paying for parking or the cost of use, I find myself wanting to go downtown more frequently.

Our only issue now is getting one for Gigi so she can join me [0] :).

Yaz.

---
[0] - Technically, the vehicle does have room on the seat and the necessary foot rests for a second passenger, but apparently only children under 12 can ride as a passenger in this configuration. Still, we have tested it and it will physically work, but we're just not up to testing law enforcement on this one. Besides which, we don't have a second helmet for her at this time.

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I've seen a few around here ... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071421)

I've seen a few (in Montreal traffic, no less - talk about being brave and/or stupid). Gas prices here were $1.49.4 a few days ago, and that's w/o a carbon tax, so I expect to see more in the future.

BTW, for our American and British friends, $1.50/litre is $5.94/US gallon, or $6.81 per Imperial gallon.

I laugh when I hear Americans crying about $4/gallon gas. They're in for a real shock over the next 2 years.

Re:I've seen a few around here ... (1)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 6 years ago | (#24073275)

Trying to wean myself off fossil fuel dependencies was certainly a big consideration for my purchase. I've already replaced all my bulbs with CF bulbs around the apartment, and have installed a digital set-back thermostat for our electric heaters in the apartment, and while there are still other areas of improvement (getting rid of my old CRT TV and replacing it with an LCD panel display would probably be a good start), transportation is still probably one of our biggest energy costs, so getting that down was an important step.

And while I do like the warm, fuzzy feeling of "doing my part for the environment", in reality a big part is trying to minimize my energy costs. I'm well aware that during my lifetime energy costs are probably not going to go down significantly (if at all), at least not without a significant technology shift somewhere down the line, and investing up-front now in energy saving devices, and minimizing use where appropriate, is going to be a net savings in the future.

...that, and of course the fact that it's a lot of fun to ride around on. It may only hit 32km/h on level ground, and accelerating up some of the hills around here may require a bit of manual (but power assisted) peddling now and then, and I've had to find some "optimal routes" which often differ from car routes (as I can switch between roads and bike paths, which can help if it allows me to avoid steep inclines which the bike doesn't handle as well), but when you get up to full speed, and you're silently passing pedestrians, other cyclists, and frequently even cars (if you've got bike lanes at the side of the road, and there's a red light, you don't have to sit and wait behind 15 - 20 other cars), and the sun is shining, there is a certain joy to it. I'd certainly recommend a test drive for anyone who hasn't tried one (or even considered one as a possible transportation medium) -- when I was shopping around, GWEV in downtown Victoria lent me their demo model for an hour and a half for a test drive, and they didn't even charge me anything (they just took down my drivers license number). I imagine that most retailers want to get the word out on such vehicles, and will probably also be every bit as willing to be generous with test drives.

Yaz.

Re:I've seen a few around here ... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#24074351)

The payback time here would be a lot longer, since we *do* get a lot of snow. I'm thinking that the optimal solution (at least for me) is a combination of:

  1. move closer to work
  2. 4-day work week
  3. bike during the summer

In the winter, it would be nice to be able to hook the dogs to a sled ... but rather impractical having them roam around the office :-(

Re:I've seen a few around here ... (1)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 6 years ago | (#24080871)

The payback time here would be a lot longer, since we *do* get a lot of snow.

I lived just south of Montreal, in St. Jean-sur-Richaleu back in 2004, and I remember what the snow was like. To be honest, even here in Victoria where we rarely ever have any snow, I'm not completely certain whether I'll be riding the scooter in the winter; it still gets cold enough, and it's often very, very wet. I know some people love Victoria's winters (compared to the rest of Canada), but other than the fact that I don't have to shovel the rain, I'm not so sure. At least in Ontario and Quebec, you get blue sky and sunlight with the snow...

The bike does come with a poncho for driving in the rain, however. Admittedly, it's a dorky looking thing; it even has a clear window in it to drape over the handlebars so the lights can continue to shine through, and your arms and hands can remain dry. I haven't used it yet, but to be honest seeing as it is bright blue, I can't help but feel like I'm going to look like some sort of demented teletubby on two wheels. Still, I imagine it's effective, so if I get caught out in the rain I'll be using it.

Yaz.

Re:I've seen a few around here ... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#24081601)

I've ridden my motorcycle in -10 weather (Montreal-Ottawa-Montreal). Not that I'd recommend it without proper gear, but it *is* doable.

Tried taking it out in a fresh snowfall one time "just 'cuz" ... went to the end of the street, decided that "this is *not* a good idea" and parked it until the thaw ...

Cool (1)

Degrees (220395) | more than 6 years ago | (#24093143)

I rode a motorcycle for a number of years (didn't own a car), and really liked how quick and easy it was to get around. There is a danger though, that automobile drivers just won't see you.

Anyway, it's pretty cool that you found an electric bike that does the job. Save yourself some fuel money, and, save the environment. :-)

Re:Cool (1)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 6 years ago | (#24130645)

There is a danger though, that automobile drivers just won't see you.

I've admittedly just ran into this earlier today, riding home on a fairly busy 4-lane road. The problem in this case has more to do with the fact that I (legally) ride in the bicycle lane, and earlier today some idiot didn't signal until just starting to make a right hand turn just after a red light, didn't see me, and cut me off as I was starting to go through the intersection. They didn't check for pedestrians, but the woman with children who were starting to cross the street at the time hadn't quite stepped out into the road. I hit the breaks and stopped a few meters from the idiot, but that didn't prevent them from yelling something at me through their window (which certainly makes no sense to me -- they signaled their intentions late, and made a right hand turn without checking for either cyclists in the bike lane nor pedestrians at the crosswalk, and they yell at me?).

I've been taking it easy at intersections in the bike lane just in case this sort of thing happens, taking it slowly while at the ready with the breaks. For the most part, I just avoid the busier roads of this sort and take as many back roads and cycling paths as possible. Or, if I'm forced to ride on a busier roadway, I might move myself out of the bike lane and into the main vehicle lane to make sure everyone see me, only switching to the bicycle lane again once everyone around me has seen me in the way (I max out at 32 km/h, so I only ever stay travelling in the car lane on one short segment I use in front of a school, which has a 30km/h zone).

Fortunately, Victoria has some excellent bike path systems available for commuters. None of them work for me to get to the University, but I only need to continue that commute for another month. For trips downtown I can spend 95% of my distance on the Galloping Goose (a former rail line converted to a cycling route), where I only have to worry about slower cyclists and pedestrians (which is a bit of an issue in itself, as my bike is virtually silent, and tends to be slightly faster than most cyclists).

Yaz.

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