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This London, Ont., tech firm is making e-bikes an easy alternative to cars for its workers | CBC News

With rising fuel prices, heavy impacts on the environment and climate change, a London-based tech firm has found a crafty solution in the form of e-bikes for its employees.

About 50 workers at Northern Commerce based in Ontario were gifted e-bikes worth just over $3,500 each on Sunday. Joy Hagerty, who’s been a part of the team for about 10 years, was one of them. 

“I’m excited to take a turn on the tern,” she said. “It’s really good for the city so we’re happy to spread this around. Any smaller thing you can do is going to help make an impact, so this allowed us to really get the word out.”

She plans to slowly phase into using her bike as often as possible, and hopes to it can serve as a replacement to her car when it comes to getting around the city.

The company’s senior vice president Andrew McClenaghan developed a love for e-bikes during the pandemic when he used them for exercise and running errands, and hasn’t looked back since. 

“I was amazed at what a game changer — having a little bit of extra power when you’re pedalling — made for me and my lifestyle, and I started using it in my day to day,” he said. 

Northern Commerce’s long-time employee, Joy Hagerty, plans to make her new e-bike a part of her daily routine. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

While the functions of the e-bike are similar to a traditional one when it comes to the pedals, its settings can be adjusted to add more power when riding uphill or carrying groceries. 

“We’re running out of room for cars, we can’t widen the roads anymore and even if we do they just fill up with cars so it’s a never ending problem. This can actually solve for it,” McClenaghan said 

McClenaghan decided to gift the e-bikes to his team as a way to share his new-found passion with them, and also as a ‘thank you’ gesture for the staffers who stuck around in 2020 when the company merged with his former business, Digital Echidna. 

E-bikes combating climate change

Brad Lickman drives a truck, and he says his new e-bike gives him the chance to reduce his impact on the environment.

“I think seeing more of these on the road will raise awareness that they exist,” he said. “Climate change is a very serious issue and we need to do everything we can to minimize our own impact on the environment.

Lickman also says he hopes e-bikes can also draw more action around improving bike lanes throughout the city.

Brad Lickman says he will use his new e-bike to limit the impact his truck has on the environment. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

McClenaghan says he believes the e-bikes can be a game changer in helping to combat climate change. He says the bikes serve as a multi-functional tool and a second-car replacement. 

“It can really replace all those short car trips. Most car trips are within eight to 10 minutes and this e-bike, with the cargo capability it has, can help people change their habits,” he said. 

The cargo bikes, manufactured by U.S. based company Tern, have a heavier frame which enables them to carry more weight, plus spaces to add more attachments, McClenaghan said

“I’ve seen that the more bikes that are out there, the more people are asking questions about them,” he said. “Once you try them, people instantly fall in love with them and see the possibilities that come out of them.” 

A snowball effect

The e-bikes also come in cargo mode which allows for more space and carrying heavier items. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

Matt Thompson and his family were thrilled to ride an e-bike for the first time ever. He says he believes the bikes can add some convenience to commuters challenged by construction in the city. 

“It comes at a great time,” he said. “I can’t go anywhere in this city without running into construction. I think the more people who are focused on not being on the roads is a great thing.”

Northern Commerce is also working on building cages for the bikes in their parking lot to ensure a safe storage space. 

“Our philosophy is that the more bikes that are out on the streets, it’s going to have a snowball effect and we’ll see more and more of these in our city,” McClenaghan said. 

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