Electric bikes added to City fleet

In this city of hills, you really can travel uphill both ways. So it's perhaps surprising that New Westminster has such a strong, passionate cycling community. While it is hilly, our city is both compact and central - features that lend themselves to bike commuting. Now City Hall too is sharing the velolove.

In this city of hills,  you really can travel uphill both ways. So it’s perhaps surprising that New Westminster has such a strong, passionate cycling community. While it is hilly, our city is both compact and central – features that lend themselves to bike commuting. Now City Hall too is sharing the velolove.

One of New Westminster's new electric bikes.
One of New Westminster's new electric bikes.

The City of New Westminster has added three new electric bikes to its vehicle fleet, making it easier for staff to do business in the city without the need of a car.

As Transportation Demand Management Coordinator Jenyfer Neumann points out in the City’s media release about the purchase, most local trips are as fast or faster by electric bike as by car.

“By sticking to the bike routes, our staff are able to avoid heavy traffic,” Neumann says, “and the full electric assist also keeps staff cool – except for steeper hills, pedaling is not necessary.”

The purchase will reduce car trips for city business as well as employee commutes.

“After surveying staff, we found that many people drive because they need their vehicles for work,” says Neumann. “By providing more fleet vehicles, staff are able to leave their cars at home, or even sell an extra family car if they don’t need it for work anymore.”

The electric bike initiative is only one part of the City’s corporate Transportation Demand Management program, which aims to reduce the number of staff single-passenger car trips by encouraging alternatives such as taking transit, cycling and carpooling.

In addition to providing the three electric bikes for staff use, the City also has:

  • made more traditional fleet vehicles available during the work day
  • become a member of The Company Car, part of the Co-operative Auto Network
  • provided access for city staff to TransLink’s discount annual transit pass program
  • implemented a Guaranteed Ride Home policy should staff members taking transit to work be called away to tend to an emergency
  • become a member of Jack Bell Ride-Share to promote car-pooling and provide ride-matching
  • provided personalized transportation planning for all interested staff
  • purchased two fleet “regular” bicycles available for staff use
  • updated information available about sustainable transportation options

Way to go New West!

Briana Tomkinson

Briana Tomkinson is a Montreal-based writer and original founder of Tenth to the Fraser. She really likes to write letters by hand.

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15 comments

    1. I agree Megan! why is it up to us taxpayers to provide transportation to staff who already receive huge benefits. Staff was surveyed? Transportation Demand Manager?
      Why not Taxpayer survey when making decisions? Was this run by a Transportation advisory committee? If you took away their free parking they may be encouraged to ride their OWN bikes.
      Sorry but when is the next election?

      1. If you read the info the city provided, it's clear that the bikes are not for the personal commute, it's for people to use for city business during the working day. The bikes are far cheaper than an equivalent city-owned car (and within a short time, it would even be cheaper than reimbursing employees for using their own cars on city business). Surely you're not suggesting that employees pay for city transportation expenses? Either way, the city must pay.

        By providing the bikes, it does leave employees free to cycle, walk or take transit to work even when their jobs require occasional site visits within the city that are not practical to do without some sort of vehicle.

        It is ridiculous to suggest that the city should poll taxpayers for every minor office expense. We're not talking about electric cars at $30k or more. We're talking about an expense of a few thousand dollars that both reduces the city's carbon footprint and reduces the city's costs (no auto insurance or gas on those vehicles, less costly maintenance and a far lower purchase price).

        I tend to agree on the free parking issue, however, because I do think that free parking is an incentive that encourages taking the car to work.

        1. Brianna,
          Then I have to ask why you stated it was for "employees personal commutes".
          I guess I will have to get accurate information from city.

          The other point I was making was, why is it staff is consulted about about issues pertaining to filling new positions and spending tax dollars and no one else is. Makes you wonder who is running the city. Have you looked at the financial statements for 2009? Are you happy with the out of control spending? Many others are very concerned.
          As for only a "few thousand dollars" try $240,00 and a another full time employee.

          1. It's pretty clear in the fill context of the article John: it reduces car trips for employee commutes by providing a city vehicle to use on city business during the work day (therefore allowing people to leave their personal vehicles at home.

            “After surveying staff, we found that many people drive because they need their vehicles for work,” says Neumann. “By providing more fleet vehicles, staff are able to leave their cars at home, or even sell an extra family car if they don’t need it for work anymore.”

            As for the costs, are you still talking about the bikes or are you including other costs? I asked about the cost of the bikes after this was published, and I was told the bikes retail for about $1200 each. How did you arrive at $240,000?

            I haven't looked at the financial statements. I have heard some people complain that the city is overspending, but I don't know enough about that to comment on it. This post is about a specific purchase, and it is one that I think was worthwhile.

          2. Brianna,
            Good defense but you should check your article Jan, 09. You wrote it. It clearly states the New West matched Fed grant of $120,000 X 2 = $240,000. The article enforces my point. The concerning, and ongoing issue, is the person quoting in this article, after 20 months has left the City. I know you do not have the answer as to why, after she leaves, they announce this initiative. Is the purchase of scooters. (don't look like Bikes to me) the only thing we have accomplished with $240,000. You can bet salaries played a major roll.
            As for rules of your blog. I think you should be more investigative and less defensive. Although, bloggers do like a healthy debate once in awhile.

          3. Hey John, it's a good question. I would also be interested to know what other initiatives came through because of the federal grant. I'm sure part of it is salaries, but that doesn't mean it's wasted funds. Depends what they did with their time, eh?

            As for being 'defensive', I think that's just an issue of how tone comes through (or not) via text-only replies. I just want to make sure we're both talking about the same things. This post is specifically about the bike purchase. The federal grant is a related and possibly interesting issue to explore further. I do appreciate you bringing it up. I saw the related post come up when I published this one. To be honest, I had forgotten all about the grant. It would be interesting to follow up and see what has come of it.

          4. Oh, I saw that in a tiny corner of the record. I think her name was Catherine, she was a resident of New Westminster too. I wonder if that had anything to do with her leaving to Coquitlum.

            I would say when it comes to grants and DAC funds getting devoured its both wages, and outside firms conducting 'reports'. After that you have about 1/3-1/4 of the money left over for actual use, such as these E-bikes assets , or in other cases the physical work planned. Take the pier park for example, a great deal of those inflated costs is going to the pencil pushers who are dotting the I's and Teeing off with our funds on the links.

            N.W.

      2. Umm…actually I wasn't meaning to be sarcastic, I really do wish that my work would do things like this, I wish everyone's work did!

        Although I do have days where I sarcastically say "I wish I worked for the government!", usually after leaving frustrating messages with a certain deparment of the Federal Government that I deal with on a daily basis at work. I have no direct experience with New West City Hall, so I won't comment on their efficiency.

  1. Just in time for the rainy season ! It should be mandatory for anyone making 100k a year or more to be an example for the employees under them at the hall. (hey, what did you expect from me!)

    What the city should do is get on board with the limited speed electric cars.
    You know, like the Zen, the E-car thats made in Canada, but not legal for use in Canada due to Transport Canada. Really popular in other places around the world, specially 'gated communities'.

    It's a good start though, just poor timing.
    Looking forward to getting my newfangled space age automatic high tech polyethylene resign self dumping trash can !

    N.W.

  2. Oh! and just FYI, federal grant money must be spent within a time limit. You snooze you lose, I guess we have reached that limit. Three Scooters and a bunch of meters to "Walk New West" (now cancelled), add staff Salaries I would think, has pretty well drained that grant.
    Don't get me wrong, I am in favour of any initiative to reduce traffic or get fit but the city, on one hand creates gridlock by traffic calming, then spends tax's on getting staff around while businesses and citizens sit in gridlock.. It is becoming more and more evident that the pecking order of New West is Unions, Staff, Taxpayers and and at the bottom, businesses. Anyway that is worthy of a whole Blog in its self..

  3. I think this is a great idea.

    I am curious as to why an employee would need a personal vehicle for work – what sort of trip is replaceable by an electric bike?

    I will save on parking spots, and I am sure that when an employee uses a personal vehicle for work, they charge mileage on the trip, so it may actually save the city money.

    Regarding working for the city – I've worked for the provincial government (as a co-op student, and contractor), and my wife has worked for municipal governments. Never again.

    Underpaid, overly bureaucratic, and exhaustingly boring. If you think that better benefits and a few more perks makes up for 30 years of dreading going to work every day, I would respectfully say that you are out of your mind. I honestly don't know how they do it – they have more internal fortitude than I do.

    1. David,
      I am sure a decent pension has something to do with internal fortitude. As for being boring. Can't understand that. Lots can be done to get rid of bordom, like working harder and with imagination.
      Possibly you or your wife were caught in the bureaucratic trap…… Good pay, good benefits and only thirty years to a good pension.

  4. It would be enlightening to hear from the city at this point. New West's citizens have provided plenty of imagination in commenting on city hall (in this discussion and others), but I have seen very little comment posted by town council.

    This New West citizen would appreciate "hearing" its administration's voice in this forum.

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