At Electric Bike Report we are always thrilled to hear about new initiatives springing up in communities all over the globe that promote environmental sustainability and personal health through eBikes. This week we’re happy to share the story of the recently launched Pedal Ahead electric bicycle community program from San Diego County. This collaboration project involving many from the area plans to do a lot of good for the community. The full story follows below:
SAN DIEGO — On September 22, Rider Safety Visibility (RSV), a 501c3, in partnership with San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, launched Pedal Ahead, a two-year, emission-reducing program designed to serve as an alternative to automobile transportation in the fourth supervisorial district, with a particular focus on areas of Chollas, City Heights, Encanto, Linda Vista, Rolando and Redwood Village. Pedal Ahead’s goal is to provide quality of life improvement for residents by making e-bikes available for daily commuting and recreational activities. The program will also support workforce development training for young adults ages 18-26 in the burgeoning bicycle industry, which has seen significant sales growth amid the pandemic. The training and education component will be conducted with Pedal Ahead community center partner, Uptown Bicycles in Normal Heights.
The program will initially deploy 200 Electra Townie GO! Models, with up to 400 e-bikes available through spring 2021. The e-bikes will be available to people ages 18 and up with Pedal Ahead participants required to ride an average of five miles per day over the course of the two-year period. Participants are required to show proof of insurance that covers the liability, loss, theft and damage to their e-bike, and use a GPS technology app to track and report mileage and trip patterns to the non-profit Rider Safety Visibility for an e-bike study.
As part of the Pedal Ahead package, Ride Safety Visibility will provide each participant with a safety and visibility package that includes a helmet, high-visibility vest, front and rear bicycle lights and lock for security. Each e-bike will also be equipped with devices that secure front wheels and seats.
At the conclusion of the program, the e-bike becomes the Pedal Ahead participants’ to own. People interested in participating can sign up at www.pedalahead.com.
Supervisor Fletcher says, “By bringing e-bikes into our communities, we are creating opportunities for environmental sustainability, healthy living, and helping people commute to work, school and other important destinations.”
Rider Safety Visibility Co-founder Ed Clancy is partnering with several District 4 community organizations and recruiting Pedal Ahead ambassadors to spread the word about this community-based electric bicycle program.
“Under the Pedal Ahead program, we will be initiating, operating, analyzing the impact of electric bike transportation in District 4 communities,” Clancy said. “Pedal Ahead brings together bicycle and industry leaders, alternative transportation, business and community members alike, to provide riders with opportunities to improve quality of life and promote active healthy lifestyles.”
Uptown Bikes owned by Curtis Allen will be used for program young adult education, participant meetings, group rides, neighborhood forums, e-bike distribution and maintenance, safety inspections, skills training and rider safety education.
One of the Pedal Ahead Ambassadors is Helen Wonjila, who spoke at the September 22 launch and said, “As a one-car household, the Pedal Ahead program really helps with our family activities and improving our health. We can take our 18-month-old daughter to more places by going car-free to the park, taking long rides and not have to worry about parking. I think these electric bikes are truly amazing.”
Other presenters at the Pedal Ahead launch included Ed Clancy, co-founder of Rider Safety Visibility, Kevin Cox, CEO of Electra Bicycles, and Maleeka Marsden, Co-Director of Policy, Climate Action Campaign.
The Pedal Ahead program is being funded by a County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program grant distributed by Supervisor Fletcher’s Office, The Left Coast Fund and The San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund.
RSV was awarded the grant by The San Diego Foundation COVID-19 Community Response Fund – in large part due to funding support from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). To date, SDG&E has donated $2 million to the Fund with plans to donate an additional million in 2021.
The COVID-19 Community Response Fund awards grants to local nonprofits that support low-income workers, families, and vulnerable communities most affected by the coronavirus crisis, as well as support efforts to spur economic recovery. To date, the fund has raised $27.6 million and distributed $26.5 million in grants.
“Amid the COVID-19 economic crisis, one of the bright spots is the surge in bike sales and people riding their bikes. The launch of the RSV program could not come at a better time,” said Eugene “Mitch” Mitchell, SDG&E’s vice president of state governmental and external affairs. “We are excited by its potential to help create new career pathways, inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs in the bike industry, and encourage a greener and healthier way to get around.”
RSV will support workforce development in these communities by providing an opportunity to the targeted age group to participate in internships, mentorships and education classes through a Community Center partnership with Uptown Bicycles. RSV has worked with leaders in the bicycle industry to develop a curriculum to include small business entrepreneurship, marketing and sales and mechanical bicycle maintenance. Through a network of partners in both the local and national bicycling industries, the program will also allow additional opportunities for young adults to gain real-world work experiences, which include learning maintenance on traditional and electric bicycles, group rides, and participating in events that support the electric bicycle incubator program.
“The bicycle industry, with an emphasis on e-bikes, is affording many opportunities for workers, and job seekers, in all aspects of our neighborhoods, including mechanics, sales and marketing and brand representatives,” said Kim Merrill, co-founder of Rider Safety Visibility.
“The opportunity to learn the ins and outs of electric bicycles is paramount, as they remain an ideal transportation solution during the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers are looking to avoid public transportation, and in the post-corona era as e-bikes are proven as a viable and credible solution. The industry will need professionals who understand this growing category of bicycles.”
“We are at the beginning of what will be a long process of recovery in our region,” shared Mark Stuart, President & CEO of The San Diego Foundation. “Since launching the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, we have witnessed incredible acts of generosity and it will continue to take an unprecedented philanthropic response to help all the San Diegans in need over the coming months and years.”
Pedal Ahead partners and supporters include County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Uptown Bicycles, Electra Bicycles, NiteRider Technical Lighting, ArroWhere Equipment, PinHead Bike Security, Kali Protectives, California Bicycles, Rocky Mounts, Lot204 Marketing, Adams Avenue Business Improvement District, Broadway Heights Community Council, Linda Vista Town Council, Hammond Climate Solutions, San Diego Continuing Education, SDG&E, San Diego Workforce Partnership and the YMCA of San Diego County.
About The San Diego Foundation
The San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy and enables community solutions to improve the quality of life in our region. For more than 45 years, The Foundation and our donors have granted more than $1.2 billion to support nonprofit organizations and strengthen our San Diego community. Learn more at SDFoundation.org, and consider a donation to the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund, helping nonprofits and San Diegans affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
About San Diego Gas & Electric
SDG&E is an innovative San Diego-based energy company that provides clean, safe and reliable energy to better the lives of the people it serves in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The company is committed to creating a sustainable future by providing its electricity from renewable sources; modernizing natural gas pipelines; accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles; supporting numerous non-profit partners; and, investing in innovative technologies to ensure reliable operation of the region’s infrastructure for generations to come. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE). For more information, visit SDGEnews.com or connect with SDG&E on Twitter (@SDGE), Instagram (@SDGE) and Facebook
About Rider Safety Visibility
Rider Safety Visibility 501 c3 is an official charitable organization and grant recipient of the San Diego County’s Community Enhancement Program, The Left Coast Fund, and The San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund. The Pedal Ahead program supports e-bike ridership opportunities to address environmental challenges, promote healthy living and create communities in vibrant and bikeable District 4 as well as providing young adult workforce development through internships, mentorships and education classes in the bicycling industry in partnership with Uptown Bicycles, 3426 Adams Avenue, San Diego. For more information, visit www.pedalahead.com and www.ridersafetyvisibility.com.