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Montreal starts electric bike pilot project

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WATCH: Have you ever considered taking an electric bike to and-from work? As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, a pilot project in Montreal is hoping to give people the chance – Jul 27, 2017

There’s no dispute that biking to work can be a fun, healthy thing to do.  But how do you do that and not arrive all sweaty?

There just might be a solution — electric bikes.

The city of Montreal and Velo-Transit are launching a pilot project where people, through their employers, can use electric bicycles to ride to work. The project, which starts this fall, runs until next spring and has 500 employees sharing 50 bikes, two weeks at a time.

READ MORE: More than 1 million Montreal cyclists on the road: Vélo Québec report

Marc-André Gadoury of the city of Montreal explains that there are employees who would love to bike to work — but the distance might be too much with a normal bicycle.

“These ones can go all the way to 160 km on the largest batteries,” he explains.  “If you put a smaller battery it’s down to 80 km.”

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As part of the service there will be charging facilities built at the workplace so that employees can charge the bikes. Each participant in the pilot project pays $25 to cover insurance and uses the bike for two weeks. But Velo-Transit says once the full service starts — participants will have to buy their own bikes — that will cost between $3,000 and $4,000. Secure parking, a charging station and road-side assistance are all included in the price.

Some purists may scoff at the idea of using an electric bike, but Stephanie Thompson, owner of Ma Bicyclette, a Montreal company that services and rents bikes, including electric ones, says that while she understands why some people might not like them, there are some advantages.

WATCH BELOW: Electric bikes trending in Saskatoon

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Electric bikes trending in Saskatoon – Jul 5, 2017

“I do think that it accesses a part of the population that otherwise might be a little intimidated,” she points out.  “Not everyone is able to bike up to Mont Royal, and using an electric bike can help you run errands that might take you much longer with a regular bike.

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The popularity of electric bikes is increasing and she sees more and more people using electric bikes for many reasons, and she thinks it’s a good thing.

“In terms of ease of movement through a city, it’s a phenomenal solution,” she says.

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