Alternative Transportation Discussed at Recent GAINS Meeting – 2013-08-21

By: Devin Conner

Alternative transportation was recently discussed at the latest Greater Akron Innovation Network for Sustainability (GAINS) meeting held at Musica in downtown Akron and one of those alternatives were electric bicycles.

As gas prices continue to occupy the forefront of community discussions and the effect of our nation’s energy consumption we are led to the reality that finding new ways to get around is a necessity.

Unfortunately, many people do not know much about the different options at their disposal, according to GAINS who met to discuss ways to curb our reliance on fossil fuels for transportation.

Multiple guest speakers, including government officials and entrepreneurs, spoke on a variety of different issues including public transportation and the increased use of bicycles.

Jason Segedy, director of the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study, was the first speaker of the event. He addressed issues that Akronites and, on a broader scale, Northeast Ohioans, face from an urban planning perspective: whether it is the problems encountered in the Fairlawn area that have an overabundance of parking needs – as if every day were Black Friday – or the limited area for people who would like to walk or ride bicycles safely away from the car traffic of the area, or just the lack of waiting areas along the bus route.

 

Segedy also discussed the difficulties created by the fact that much of the population in the Akron area is dispersing away from cities and spreading out over a larger area, some moving away altogether.

He then described some of the ideas and steps being taken to remedy some of these situations, along with the change in mindset away from simple road expansions to accommodate more traffic. Instead, they will look to be more inclusive to multiple forms of transportation.

One of the most prevalent forms of transportation covered during the night’s discussion was the use of bicycles and the need for more bike accessible roads, and making bike paths lead into cities and other places more to encourage it as a regular way of going to work or to the store.

Another part of the bicycle discussion centered around different groups and community riding events.

The use of technology to enhance the traditional bike was also discussed, as the meeting included electric bicycle demonstrations. These bikes run on battery power and make long or short rides easier on the rider and make them faster, as well.

The electric bike assists you while you ride after you begin pedaling automatically but also has a throttle for added help or just a speed boost for the sake of going faster. The bikes run on two different types of battery that vary in cost and the number of charges you will get out of each battery. One type is significantly cheaper and can last about two years; the more expensive battery can last up to seven years.

Other discussion points of the GAINS meeting included features which exist within the bus system that many people do not know about, and the facilities they service, many of which have environmentally friendly aspects that function to reduce the cost of running the facilities.

There was also a video presentation dealing with a rail system which would carry passenger cars around town. What was different about this system from a trolley or others is that it would run above street level and operate solely on solar power.

The meeting concluded after a question and answer period and an electric bicycle demonstration. Attendees took turns riding the bikes to test them and experience the ease of climbing a hill with little effort or strain, which usually accompanies a hilly bike ride.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/GAIN4Sustainability.

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