In front of their solar-powered headquarters

In front of their solar-powered headquarters

Greenhouse adopts green transport

The Groundswell Community Greenhouse has a new way of getting around Invermere

A two-wheeled innovation will be rolling into Windermere’s Fall Fair this year, courtesy of the forward-thinking folks at the Groundswell Network Society.

Produce from Groundswell’s Community Greenhouse will be brought to the event via the group’s new pedal-assisted electric bicycle, a chromed-out creation which is capable of cruising up to 29 kilometres per hour.

“The bike has a bit of bling to it, and it gets the conversation going,” Groundswell Project Leader Bill Swan told The Echo. “There are renewable energy alternatives to transportation, and that’s the main reason we’re doing it.”

The two-wheeler came from Belize Bikes, and was branded “The Chopper,” for its lengthened frame and extended forks. Groundswell purchased the bike in July, and charges its electric batteries mainly at the greenhouse, where electricity is delivered via rooftop solar panels.

The bike features 26-inch front wheel, a chrome moly frame and a 500-watt electric hub motor mounted on the massive tired 24-inch rear wheel. Powered by a lithium battery, the long-lasting energy source can be extended if the rider pushes the pedals.

Those who shop at the Invermere Farmers’ Market are likely familiar with the vehicle, as it’s been used to carry greenhouse-grown produce and an informative Groundswell set-up to the weekly event.

“Before we had it, staff were walking or using gas-powered vehicles, so we’re quite proud of the fact that we reduced the use of gas powered vehicles,” said Mr. Swan.

The total cost for the electric bike, along with the trailer attachment, reached nearly $3,000 – a price tag that was manageable because of a boost from the Columbia Basin Trust. Mr. Swan admits the price is steep, but said the cost is comparable to many non-electric bicycles.

“I think [the market for] electric bikes is definitely expanding,” he said.

With a maximum three-hour charge, the bike will carry its passenger for one to two hours, Mr. Swan said, depending on the amount of strain facing the motor.

To give an idea of its power, Mr. Swan said a cyclist on the bicycle could easily ride up the Athalmer hill by applying the full throttle with some additional pedal power.

But to avoid unnecessary stress on the motor, the team uses a map to lead riders through the most gradual routes for uphill travel.