April 9, 2021

The E-Bike Wave in Unexpected Places

PT: Bob Ransford, who has been working on the Southlands project in Tsawwassen for years, brings another observation on change in that area:

Gordon wrote a few weeks ago about the wave of the future that has suddenly hit the beach with the recent popularity of e-bikes – not just in downtown Vancouver, around False Creek or the Stanley Park seawall, but on the hills of the suburban North Shore. It seems the perfect confluence of factors: an aging demographic, the yearning for pandemic-safe recreation, small, powerful batteries and falling prices for e-bikes, is suddenly manifesting in the form of a new suburban mobility.

On a weekend last September, in the midst of the pandemic, I was participating in the launch of sales for the first phase of housing at Southlands developed by Century Group – a new beach community rooted in farming and food in Tsawwassen.  On the two days, more than 3,500 came from near and far to wander through Southlands’ Market Square.

I was pleasantly shocked by the number of people who arrived on bicycles.  The tally of cyclists exceeded 730 cyclists over the two days.

What really caught my eye was the number of people who rode e-bikes to the event. Many of them were like me – aging boomers. Two of them were Tsawwassen residents Murray Pratt and Gord Sarkissian (below) who, in May, will be opening a new e-bike shop called Pedego Delta in a store-front space in Southlands’ new Discovery Centre building.

The new e-bike business these two aging boomers are starting was born after the two of them participated in Santa’s Electric Bicycle Ride in Tsawwassen last December, riding their own e-bikes. The energy and interest that event spawned made them realize that riding an electric bicycle could help improve people’s quality of life and add value to a community by promoting an active and engaged lifestyle for all adults, while providing an alternative mode of transport to help people reduce their carbon footprint.

Their business plan is to focus on creating ways in which an electric bike can enhance people’s lives – adding value to the experience they enjoy living in and around a Boundary Bay in South Delta, where there is plenty of local access to trails and also the ability to hop over to the Gulf Islands on the BC Ferries, with the terminal a few kilometers from Southlands. They plan to sell and rent Pedego e-bikes, set up an e-bike sharing program and provide guided e-bike excursions around Boundary Bay all the way to Crescent Beach.


Gordon: I’ll add another observation that I noticed last weekend.  It’s just not the usual suspects (white affluent baby boomers) who are out there cycling in these pandemic times; it’s the cross-section of a city that comes in many shades and classes.  Here’s an example on Beach Avenue.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how bike lanes will, yet again, be positioned as a Vancouver civic issue, especially now that the NPA has chosen John Coupar (no on a bike lane on Stanley Park Drive, no in Kits Park, no pretty much in any park) as their mayoral candidate.  It’s not been a winning issues for them, but it is irresistible.  Bike lanes: NPA catnip.

(As one of the veteran commentators on politics in this region, Bob Ransford will no doubt have an opinion on the politics of all that.)


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