Pedal Ahead program promotes healthful living less pollution

A new electric bicycle emission-reducing program is designed to serve as an alternative to auto transportation.

Dubbed Pedal Ahead, the groundbreaking new program partners Rider Safety Visibility, a nonprofit, with District 4 Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, and region-wide business and community leaders.

“By bringing e-bikes into our communities, we are creating opportunities for environmental sustainability, healthful living, and helping people commute to work, school, and other important destinations,” said Fletcher.

Rider Safety Visibility has partnered with Fletcher, along with community organizations to recruit e-bike riders to participate in this community-based electric bicycle program.

“Pedal Ahead continues to define a new activism in healthy living and active lifestyles by capturing e-bike cycling data in real-time, and transforming lives,” said Rider Safety Visibility co-founder Ed Clancy. “Our program is contributing to community improvements by injecting positive lifestyle choices, providing goals, and in working with a new audience of advocates for alternative transportation.”

“The bicycle industry, with an emphasis on e-bikes, is also affording many opportunities for job seekers through Rider Safety Visibility’s Young Adult Education program, including mechanics, bike shop staff, and sales and marketing representatives,” said Kim Merrill, Rider Safety Visibility co-founder.

“The opportunity to learn the ins and outs of electric bicycles is paramount, as they have become a growing transportation solution during the pandemic. In the post-coronavirus era, e-bikes will continue to have a bright future. The industry needs professionals who understand this growing category of bicycles.”

The way Pedal Ahead works is e-bikes are made available to people ages 18 and up. Participants are required to ride a minimum average of 1,800 miles a year, for two years, in order to provide in-depth analytics for an e-bike impact study.

As part of the Pedal Ahead program, Rider Safety Visibility provides each participant with a safety and visibility package from leading bicycle industry manufacturers that includes a helmet, high-visibility vest, front-and-rear bicycle lights, and lock for security. Each e-bike is also equipped with devices that secure front wheels and seats.

At the conclusion of the program, and after meeting the mileage goal, the Pedal Ahead participant becomes the owner of the e-bike they’ve ridden.

Beach residents who’ve tried Pedal Ahead give it a thumbs up.

“Peddle Ahead has been such a game changer for me to make biking to work a feasible option,” said PB resident Kim Heinle. “It eliminates the stress of uphill climbs, especially when carting my laptop and work clothes. The best part about the e-bikes though is that I use it like a regular bike to get my cardio and exercise in, and then flip on the e-portion when I’m commuting. It’s a two-for-one bike.”

“I haven’t owned a bike in over 20 years, but during the recent pandemic I bought a mountain bike to get outside and exercise,” said Roxanne Chrestman of Ocean Beach. “I’m pretty excited to say I have ridden my bike more than 400 miles just this year.”

“I thought it was a great idea to get an electric bike,” said 63-year-old Jo-Anna Mitrano of Bay Park, a YMCA fitness instructor. “Because of my wish to be low on the carbon footprint, I gave up my car and became all bike. It’s perfect. I can still commute to work and get the daylight in. It’s just so energizing.”

Pedal Ahead was envisioned, designed and created by Fletcher and Rider Safety Visibility, with initial funding provided by San Diego County, The Left Coast Fund, The San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, and SDG&E.

La Jolla’s California Bicycle and Uptown Bicycles are the independent-owned bicycle dealers supporting the Pedal Ahead program as community centers and service providers. The e-bikes they provide for the program are available in District 4 ZIP codes, which include beach areas.

A total of 21 Pedal Ahead riders in the 92106, 92107, 92109, 92110, and 92037 ZIP codes, as of Feb. 1, had logged 8,858 miles through the e-bike program. Overall, year to date, those same riders have produced a 3,550 kg CO2 reduction using an e-bike versus a passenger car, according to figures compiled by Rider Safety Visibility. The 200 riders in the program’s first phase have logged nearly 52,000 miles and produced a 20,760 kg CO2 emissions reduction.

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