Maryland Today | A Short, Electrifying Journey

2022-10-16 17:30:46 By : Mr. oscar jia

Produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications

Produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications © 2022

DOTS Hosts Training for E-Bikes

Keith Nowlin, a representative from Veo, shows writer Sala Levin how to use an e-bike yesterday behind Preinkert Hall. The Department of Transportation Services hosted free test rides for Terps as part of its Bike Safety Month calendar.

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

The small, paved road behind Preinkert Hall just gently inclines, but to me, it might as well have been a narrow, icy path winding up a mountain and over a glacier. This road was my Everest, although to conquer it, I needed only to ride an electric bike about 50 feet.

Yesterday, as part of Bike Safety Month, UMD’s Department of Transportation Services (DOTS) and Veo, the e-scooter and bike rental service, offered Terps the chance to test out a scooter or a new Cosmos e-bike. Both kinds of electric vehicles are available at bike racks and parking hubs across campus.

They’re another alternative to Shuttle-UM buses or to privately owned vehicles, said Thomas Worth, micromobility program manager at DOTS. “As the campus grows, parking areas diminish or decrease, so having vehicles that take up less space for parking is part of our plan.”

After securing my helmet, I hopped aboard the e-bike, which has been on the market since early this year. Keith Nowlin, a representative from Veo, gave me a quick tour of the essentials: hand brakes, throttle and bell if I want to ring out in either fun or fear. The bike felt heavy to me, an avid fan of keeping at least one foot on the ground at all times, but Nowlin assured me that it’s practically a toy compared to the Harleys he usually rides.

Getting going proved challenging—mostly because once I placed my right foot on the pedal, I didn’t love the idea of lifting the left one. (See above.) After a few false starts, I managed to then engage the throttle, which gave the bike an added zoom—up to its maximum of 15 miles per hour. I never approached full speed, but the extra oomph was a small thrill.

DOTS and Veo have clearly defined safety regulations for the bikes and scooters: Helmets are recommended, and drivers must use the vehicles on roads, not sidewalks, and follow traffic laws. The fleet of 300 that operate throughout College Park and University Park have proved popular, with each scooter or bike averaging five rides per day. (According to Veo, three rides per day indicates successful implementation.)

The bikes and scooters are part of the micromobility movement, a range of small, low-speed, human- or electric-powered transportation devices. The e-vehicles produce no carbon emissions, an improvement over the mopeds of old that spewed greenhouse gases.

After a few laps back and forth, I turned the bike back over to Nowlin. I had climbed my Everest, and I’d done it without a broken ankle or any carbon emissions. I celebrated by heading back to my office in a different kind of micro-vehicle: our unit’s electric-powered golf cart.

DOTS is marking Bike Safety Month throughout October. Upcoming events include a “Bike Care Basics” clinic on Oct. 18, a group ride and picnic lunch on Oct. 21, and a “Bikes Be Bright” event that will provide free bike lights on Oct. 26.

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