Upper Dublin Township in Pennsylvania is initiating a pilot project to gauge the advantages of using electric bicycles. The e-bike, as they are more commonly known, will be used for police work and for the Township’s Sitewatch program, which patrols and monitors parkland and playing fields. The people behind the program believe the electric bike could prove to be a useful tool, giving police officers and parks personnel a clean, “green,” more healthful alternative to automobile patrols. The program is also expected to save the Township in fuel and maintenance expenses.
With a fleet of 20 bikes, the Upper Dublin police department has always had a strong commitment to the use of conventional bicycles for patrolling the township. Electric bicycles are identical to conventional bikes with the addition of a small, but powerful, electric motor and battery pack. The people behind the initiative say the electric bike is not intended to replace the township’s conventional bikes. Instead they suggest the e-bike is intended to increase the township’s use of bicycles overall. They say the electric bike will provide increased speed and range for certain situations where a regular bike would not be ideal. The goal is to replace gas vehicles and cars for jobs where the electric bike makes more sense. The particular e-bike the township is using is silent, can reach speeds of up to 30MPH, has a range of 20-35 miles per charge, and costs just 20 cents to recharge using a standard wall outlet.
“We’ve researched other communities using electric vehicles and the advantages we see for patrolling are obvious”, says Township manager Paul Leonard. Leonard says the intention is to save the township money, increase the effectiveness of patrol personnel, and that the program is part of a larger “Green” initiative for the township.
New electric bikes, especially those with the performance necessary for police work, can cost thousands of dollars; the township’s investment for the bike was just $1,300. Most of that cost was covered by support from The Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO) and Electric Bike Technologies of Newportville, PA
To save money, the township opted to convert one of their existing bikes rather than buy a new complete e-bike. With a little online research, the people behind the program found a local company, Electric Bike Technologies of Newportville, PA, to help with the project.
Jason Kraft, CEO of Electric Bike Technologies said, “It was great opportunity for us to be able to work with the Upper Dublin Township and Police. As a native of Cheltenham, it was special for me to be able to contribute locally, and I could tell from our first meeting that the people involved understood how an
electric bike would benefit the township”.
Kraft’s company supported the project by installing their E-BikeKit™ conversion system on the bike at a
discount. Additional funding for the bike was provided by a grant from PECO.
“After researching our options and looking at what other police departments had done with electric
bikes, converting one of our existing bikes with a high-performance retrofit system made the most sense
to us. I’m looking forward getting the bike in use and getting feedback from our officers”, said Deputy
Chief Lee Benson, a longtime proponent of incorporating bicycles into the departments operations.
Upper Dublin residents can look forward to seeing the new electric bike in action this spring. Police
officers and Sitewatch personnel will be evaluating the bike for the next 6-9 months.