The sun is rising on a new innovation in micromobility

The sun is rising on a new innovation in micromobility

The sun is rising on a new innovation in micromobility: WE-cycle and Skyhook Solar, in collaboration with PBSC Urban Solutions, have launched a pilot program to beta test off-the-grid, solar-powered e-charging stations for e-bikes, a first in the state of Colorado. The Aspen Valley Hospital and Basalt Upvalley BRT WE-cycle stations are now charging stations for the 25 blue WE-cycle e-bikes and the power is generated from  Skyhook Solar’s distinct winglike, bifacial solar panels.

WE-cycle e-bike charging station powered by skyhook solar

Photo Credit: Craig Turpin, @risingsunphotog

For WE-cyclers, the station interface and riding experience will be unchanged: unlock a bike, ride, return, repeat. Like all of WE-cycle’s fleet, the e-bikes are free for unlimited 30-minute rides. As a reminder, each additional minute for the blue e-bikes is $5/min. E-bikes can be docked at any of WE-cycle’s 49 stations but they will only recharge when docked at either of these two e-stations. As part of the system’s bike re-balancing, the WE-cycle Operations Team will redistribute e-bikes to the e-stations for charging. 

Solar-powered bikeshare is not new to WE-cycle. Since its founding in 2013, WE-cycle has aligned its operations with its mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and all of its 49 bikeshare stations are powered by the Colorado sun, thanks to grants from CORE, a WE-cycle Founding Partner and grantor of this year’s pilot. What is pioneering as of today is solar-powered e-bikeshare. 

Our 2020 e-bike pilot revealed great enthusiasm for integrating more e-bikes into the WE-cycle system. It also proved to be operationally demanding to pick up the e-bikes and recharge them in the shop. We identified the need for an e-bikeshare station that could charge the e-bikes and remain consistent with our organizational goals of 100% solar-powered stations and stations that could be easily removed in the winter. While no such bikeshare product existed on the market, a creative, practical, and replicable idea did: adapt the PBSC Smart Station, which charges the WE-cycle e-bikes, with a Skyhook Solar Station. And thus, as COVID was closing borders, forcing a shift to work from home, and dramatically reducing world-wide transit ridership, an international collaboration coalesced around solutions-based design and sustainable missions among industry leaders, PBSC based in Montreal, Skyhook Solar in Carbondale, and WE-cycle. In less than a year, this adaptation is now the first deployment of solar-charging e-bikeshare in Colorado and the only such model operational in the US in 2021. “This combination of innovative products is a huge step in advancing renewable and flexible charging infrastructure in the e-bikeshare movement,” says Daniel Delano, Skyhook Solar CEO. 

This pioneering technology came to fruition thanks to a shared vision that electric bikeshare can be powered with renewable energy and that just as WE-cyclers reduce greenhouse emissions by choosing to ride a bike rather than drive a car for in and around town trips, WE-cycle’s operations can also reduce our collective carbon footprint. This summer, we invite our riders to use the blue e-bikes frequently, for short trips of course. If you are heading to the Aspen Valley Hospital or Basalt Upvalley BRT station and there is an e-bike available, please ride it to the e-station so it can be charged up for the next rider. Thanks for joining us in following e-bike safety tips and etiquette and for being bikeshare pioneers!

This pilot, a public/private partnership, is generously funded by the City of Aspen, the Town of Basalt, the Aspen Business Center Foundation, and CORE (Community Office for Resource Efficiency).

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