Easy E-Bike Rider – Eugene Weekly

It’s one of those rare sunny spring days in Oregon as I cruise through downtown Eugene on an Electric Avenue Sports e-bike. The sun is shining and there is not a cloud in the sky. I weave through traffic, moving from a bike path to a vehicle lane. I must have a huge smile on my face as I ride because someone shouts from a car, “Hey, nice bike.”

Some e-bikes have a motor that kicks in to assist pedaling and others have one like acceleration via a throttle, similar to a motorcycle. Riding an e-bike with a throttle, this acceleration comes in handy when I go from stopping at a red light to accelerating to keep up with car traffic. There’s not that awkward feeling that the car behind you is crazy that you had to start pedaling.

Electric bikes are a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is an environmental impact of mining lithium for batteries, but in an October 2020 article in the peer-reviewed journal Transportation Research Part D: Transportation and the Environmentthe authors found that carbon emissions could be reduced by 12% if only 15% of transit miles were traveled by electric bike instead of car.

As e-bikes grow in popularity, more and more styles have hit the market, which is what Electric Avenue Sports has seen as its niche: providing e-bikes that match someone’s personality.

But the price of an electric bike is a barrier for many.

Electric Avenue Sports — and other bike shops — have credit options, but if you live in Eugene, that can still be a barrier to getting an e-bike. Low-income Benton County residents who get their power through Pacific Power have the opportunity to get financial assistance: The Corvallis-Benton County Economic Development Office has found a way to offer rebates of 1 $200.

It’s a program that’s become hugely popular with its residents because it’s made e-bikes more accessible, says economic development specialist Kathryn Duvall.


Falcon Hekimoglu. Photos by Wesley Lapointe.

Electric feeling

Upon entering Electric Avenue Sports, the store’s electric bicycle stock does not only offer ordinary bicycles. Although it has more utilitarian bikes, its inventory ranges from models in the outlines of a classic Indian motorcycle to an electric bike with a sidecar to big bikes with off-road capabilities that could withstand a madmax apocalypse.

“We wanted to have a lifestyle for our shop,” explains Hawk Hekimoglu. “It’s something you can see yourself on, and your personality just explodes out of you.”

Hawk and his brother John Hekimoglu both grew up in Eugene, so they know the city’s large number of bike shops, many of which also sell e-bikes. But he says they opened Electric Avenue in August 2021 to sell e-bikes that you can’t find in Eugene.

On one side of the store, says Hawk Hekimoglu, are the more motorcycle-oriented e-bikes. “We are all individuals running around like chickens with their heads cut off, but we just want to show our individuality,” he says. “We let your charisma and your style shine through.”

The other side of the store has the most convenient e-bikes, he says. When a customer walks in, Hekimoglu says he and his brother guide the customer to the side of the store that matches their personality. “Whether you’re 15 or 65, you see this stuff and you just have your own feelings,” he says.

There is a 20 mph cap for e-bikes in cycle lanes and multi-use lanes. But the store carries the Onyx brand, which he says goes up to 60 mph and comes with an original certificate to be registered as a moped with the DMV, and can then be used as a vehicle on public roads.

The number of miles you can travel on a fully charged e-bike battery varies. The e-bike moped that can travel 60mph has a range of 20 miles without pedaling and takes around seven to eight hours to recharge. A folding e-bike, a more convenient transportation option, can travel 80 km and takes about four to six hours to fully charge.

The store offers community rides, more so when the weather is warm, Hekimoglu says. The group ride invites anyone with a bicycle – electric motor or not – as well as electric scooters and one-wheeled hoverboards. The rides typically take to riverside paths or are pub crawls, Hekimoglu says.

With prices ranging from $1,000 to almost $5,000, e-bikes are more expensive than most bikes due to the extra lithium battery-powered motor and the sophistication involved.

Like most bike stores, Electric Avenue Sports offers credit options and even allows people to come into the store to make payments at the store and then walk away with the e-bike. But Hekimoglu says the cost comes with an investment that can improve someone’s lifestyle. “When you invest in something that has a super positive impact, it affects you in more than one way. It affects you in other aspects of your life as well,” he says.

An electric option

Purchasing an e-bike as a transportation option is limited for many households, so the Corvallis-Benton Economic Development Office launched its program to make it more accessible to those who cannot afford the displayed price.

In 2020, the economic development office applied for a grant from utility company Pacific Power that funded electric transit options, Duvall says. The development office has launched an instant e-bike rebate program for low-income households with the aim of having 40-60 new e-bikes on the streets of Corvallis.

Reimbursement ticked a few boxes, Duvall says. The office is working with the Corvallis Climate Action Advisory Board, which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. An e-bike is an alternative to the high costs of car ownership. And it makes e-bike purchases more affordable for low-income people.

The office accepted the $1,200 rebate after sending an assessment to the community. Households were more willing to buy an e-bike if it took a significant chunk out of the price, she said, but the bureau wanted them to pay at least $200 for the bike to attract serious applicants. The reimbursement also covers safety equipment, such as helmets and visibility vests.

To qualify for the Corvallis e-bike program, your household income must be less than 80% of the area median income as defined by US Housing and Urban Development. For an individual in Corvallis, this represents an annual income of $47,600 – for a household of four, $68,000.

In July 2021, when the bureau opened the first round of applications, it did so without advertising, but granted all 15 discounts anyway. Due to the overwhelming number of applications, the office used a lottery system.

“We kept the app very simple,” says Duvall. “For so many programs, they are constantly being asked to prove how poor they are. And it’s humiliating. Candidates self-declared their income, but had to prove they were a Pacific Power customer.

Being an economic development office, Duvall says the idea of ​​having the e-bike program was also meant to boost the economy of local bike shops. The discount could only be used at four bike shops in the Corvallis area. Duvall says Corvallis Electric Bike Shop received most of the discounts, but Corvallis’ other stores saw an increase in e-bike sales.

The bureau hasn’t finished collecting data on how recipients are using e-bikes, but Duvall says based on anecdotal evidence, some were already riding bikes to some degree, and that has enabled those who became unable to return to stool. .

The program plans to distribute 50 rebates — the office has given time to its staff to administer the program — and has so far distributed 31 rebates. The office wants to continue the program but needs to find funds to do so, Duvall says.

Duvall says e-bikes don’t decrease the number of trips people make on pedal bikes, but are instead used for errands and getting people out of cars. And the refund helped low-income households make that switch.

“What’s so popular about this program is that for the amount of money we’re talking about, it really makes a huge difference. You really impact a lot of people’s lives,” she says. “Anyone trying to set up a program like this is something we should be thinking about: how many people you can impact.”

Electric Avenue is at 187 E. Broadway. For more information, visit ElectricAvenueSports.com.

To learn more about the Corvallis-Benton Economic Development Electric Bike Grant, visit YesCorvallis.com.

Earnest L. Veasey