Posted by TheLCster
CNN —Keith Felch is admittedly a big guy, but more than a few super-fit cyclists in Southern California have been left wondering how that dude just went flying by. And then his wife, Mary, comes motoring past.
“They stare, like how can a girl go past me,” she says, laughing. It takes the other riders a few seconds but then they figure it out.
They have electric motors.
The Felches, who live in Aliso Viejo, California, used to drive everywhere, except when they used their bikes for recreation.
That changed when they got their new e-bikes, made by a company called Optibike. Now, they ride to go shopping and to go to breakfast — but mostly they ride to work.
Keith Felch says the couple has cut 50 percent of their car-use since they started electric biking.
And there are other benefits. Keith Felch dropped 30 pounds and his blood pressure fell 10 points in the first six months he owned the bike, he says.
The Felches don’t exactly classify themselves as “environmentalists,” although Mary said it is important to have a positive effect on the planet.
“I learned that the worst amount of smog that you put out [in an automobile] is in the first mile, so if we can make even some of those shorter trips on our bicycles, it makes a big difference,” she says.
What’s an ‘e-bike’?
By law, electric bikes must have no more than 1 horsepower and go no faster than 20 mph (on motor power alone).
Basically they are much like traditional bicycles with small motors that power the bike or assist a rider with pedaling. Many have gears like a regular bike.
“It’s just adding the throttle aspect, other than that it handles like a regular bicycle,” Keith Felch said. He says he uses the throttle all the time, choosing one of two modes — eco [half power] or fast [full power].
He says he once tried a regular bike for his 4 ½-mile ride to one of his music studios where he teaches jazz improvisation.
But the hills nearly got him. He calls his electric bike a “hill eraser.”
It also makes the ride to his farthest studio — 22 miles away — seem much closer. He says he gets about 35 miles on his primary battery and has an additional one for long rides.
More Going Green from GeoT
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Watsonville solar project to power thousands of homes
WATSONVILLE — A plan to install solar panels at the city dump to provide enough power for 4,700 homes (10% of the city population) is moving forward with the blessing of the City Council.Construction of more than 6,500 panels could start at the end of March and be generating 2.3 megawatts of power before the end of 2010, according to Steve Schumer of San Jose-based Cupertino Electric Inc.
The city would lease the land to Cupertino Electric at a price yet to be negotiated. The council, which approved the project Tuesday in a 6-0 vote with Councilman Greg Caput absent, must still approve the lease agreement.
Schumer said a third party, whose name he declined to disclose, has signed a letter of intent to buy the electricity if the price is right.
“We’re close,” Schumer said.
The city also is working with Cupertino Electric to install solar panels at the Watsonville Municipal Airport to produce another megawatt of power. Don French, general manager of the airport, said the deal will go before the City Council after engineering studies are completed. He supports the project.
“I like the idea of solar panels, and if the airport can make a few bucks, I’m all for it,” French said.
A third project in the works would put solar panels on rooftops of city buildings.