Some community leaders in Williams Lake have been participating in pedal-assist e-bike demos as part of an education and engagement campaign by Streets For All Williams Lake.
Mayor Surinderpal Rathor kicked off the demos when he was outfitted with an e-bike thanks to Cycle Logic.
Rathor, who rode a pedal bike growing up in India, had not ridden a bicycle much since immigrating to Canada in the 1970s.
However, he embraced the opportunity to try out the pedal-assist bike, which operates much like a regular bicycle, except with a small electric motor which can add three different levels of assist, or none, if the motor is turned off.
The same day he got the bike and rode it home to his house with volunteers from Streets For All, he then rode it down to the city council meeting, enjoying a demo ride after the meeting and some photo ops with fellow councillors.
Rathor said the e-bike helped him to get back into riding after about a 50-year hiatus, without being too hard on his legs.
Dave Dickson, emergency preparedness coordinator for the city of Williams Lake, also went for a ride on one of the bikes, this time thanks to Red Shreds. Dickson, however, is a frequent cyclist often seen around town on his pedal-powered bike. He is waiting for the delivery of his own e-bike, which he ordered to help him out on his longer rides and also so he can keep up with his sons on their trips together.
Dickson said he thought an e-bike would be helpful when the distance seems too far to ride normally, or perhaps when a person is in a hurry.
Other participants include city councillor Michael Moses, Mary Forbes, Waste Wise educator for the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society, and Balwinder (Bob) Sunner, leader of Williams Lake’s Citizens on Patrol and owner of Laketown Furnishings.
Moses has his own e-bike and rode with the group for the project and spoke to them about his experience owning an e-bike, saying it enabled him to be more active.
Sunner used an e-bike for part of his work coordinating traffic control and street closures during the Williams Lake Stampede Parade. He said using a bicycle or an e-bike was handy during the parade because it was nimble and able to go back and forth along the parade route and able to turn around easily on the street as he communicated with parade participants and other volunteers. Sunner also said using a bike or an e-bike works well because it is quiet so he can still hear his radio and he gets lots of waves as he rolls by all the parade patrons.
Sunner said while he had it, he rode the e-bike to and from work, in the parade and for a bit of grocery shopping.
“It was fantastic,” he said, adding how bicycling makes him feel like a kid again.
“It reminds me of my youth, which isn’t easy because it was a long, long time ago,” joked Sunner.
When Mary Forbes showed up for her e-bike demo to do some errands on the bike with Streets for All Williams Lake, the second item on her to-do list was to catch a chicken to re-home as a pet.
After dropping off some paperwork on the way, the group rode on to a house of Forbes’ friend who had a retired laying hen. She caught the live chicken and then carried it back with her on the bike to take home.
More riders are planned to participate, as scheduling permits.
Each ride or demo with Streets for All resulted in a social media reel or post to the Streets for All Williams Lake Instagram or Facebook page with the goal of helping to create awareness around the potential of e-bikes as a fun and useful alternative to driving, especially for short trips in the community. The funding for the project was provided by Emotive BC, a province-wide campaign to help raise public awareness around plug-in electric vehicles.