Electric bike tours and rentals come to Washington

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Associated Press

Posted on August 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a nod to the (usually) insufferable heat of summer in Washington, a local e-bike firm has begun offering electric-bike tours of the National Mall and memorials.

No need to search for parking. No walking. Not even any pedaling, if you don't want.

For $40, a new startup is offering three-hour tours of the National Mall, the memorials and monuments, beginning daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Diamond Teague Park south of Nationals Park. The path goes up to and around the U.S. Capitol, down the mall to the White House, past the Lincoln Memorial to the Kennedy Center and back again along the southern side of the mall.

"If you want to not pedal at all, you don't have to even turn once," said Ray Carrier, manager of EZ Bike Rides, the company behind the tours. "That's the beauty of it — when you're on a flat surface, people actually end up (pedaling) even more than they even realize. But the moment you are confronted with a steep hill or you're tired, you don't need to. You never need to get sweaty or worked up or anything."

Carrier launched the company as an outgrowth of Arlington-based Hybrid Pedals, which is pitching e-bikes to governments, security firms and police forces. He said he has been involved in electric bikes since 2007 and had an electric bike and scooter store in Baltimore, called Green Rider, which he started just as the economy was collapsing and which closed in 2010. "The demographics for e-bikes in the D.C. area are a lot more favorable here than they are in Baltimore," he said.

The e-bikes Carrier uses for the tours are from Pedago, which uses lithium ion batteries similar to what is used in electric cars, so no gas fumes. Carrier said that without any pedaling at all the bikes can transport a rider of up to 175 pounds about 20 miles on a flat surface. They cannot travel more than 20 miles per hour, one of the reasons — at least in the District of Columbia — that riders are not required to wear heavy, motorcycle-style helmets.

Carrier stresses that many riders like to pedal, even if they couldn't hack one of the non-electric bike options like Capital Bikeshare. It's somewhere between a Segway tour and a traditional bike tour, exercise-wise.

"If you want to use them for a workout ... they are health exercise tools more than anything else," he said.

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Information from: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com

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