Electrifying the Operations Fleet

Written by Megan Anevich (Operations Manager)

This season you may have noticed the bike share field team zipping around the city on the pedicab trikes or bright blue e-Bullitt. 

Thanks to the generous support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), Hamilton Bike Share has upgraded our fleet of bikes used for servicing the system. With funding from OTF, we electrified our two pedicab trikes that can transport 4 bikes at a time on the flatbed. We also purchased a brand-new e-Bullitt with a front cargo space to carry tools for in-field bike maintenance. 

With every bike weighing 50 lbs, you can imagine the challenge our trikers faced before the pedicabs were electrified! It was difficult to travel long distances and they were limited to routes that avoided any hills. 

A bike share employee sits on a pedicab trike loaded with several blue bike share bikes, smiling and giving a thumbs up

Electrifying the pedicabs has made a world of difference. Our trikers can now zip around the city and travel to the farthest ends of our operating area. E-bikes in Ontario are allowed maximum assisted speeds of up to (and not exceeding) 32 km/hr. While our trikers are usually only going half this speed, the extra power has made it so they can now make it up the hill at Bayfront Park, and get up the Bay Street bike lanes no problem. Traveling from downtown to McMaster and back in the morning is now an easy feat. This greatly increased the efficiency of the team, allowing us to service more bikes and fill more hubs every day.

What’s been most exciting about this project is how much it has increased the resiliency of our operations. With COVID we faced limitations around staffing (two people couldn’t be in vehicles) and struggled with increasing costs of fuel, car maintenance, and supply chain issues.

Left: a close up of several bike share bikes on a pedicab trike. Right: a close up of the trike's motor, near the pedals.

By integrating 3 electrified bikes in our fleet, this has eliminated these challenges. In the summer we found that three electric bikes essentially replaced the need for one of the trucks. This meant we could reduce our reliance on vehicles, schedule multiple staff at once, and overall reduce our carbon emissions. A win-win-win!

Bike based work can also be more nimble. It eliminates the challenges of trying to find parking in the busy downtown,  and the bikes can easily access parks and navigate the bustling McMaster campus. The Bullitt is equipped with a full mobile maintenance toolkit, meaning we were also able to increase the number of bike fixes directly in the field. Quick fixes in the field means less bikes needing to be picked up and taken into the shop, again reducing the number of kms the vehicles have to drive. 

A bright blue cargo e-Bullitt bike

Thanks to this project, we’ve been inspired by just how much bike-based work we’re able to do. It’s changed how we run our operations, and has us thinking about more ways we can introduce bike-based work into our operations plan to further reduce reliance on vehicles and increase our sustainability as an organization.

A pedicab e-trike beside a bike share hub

In September 2022, the bike share operations team hosted a drop-in “Try a Bike Day” in collaboration with the Everyone Rides Initiative. We brought the new fleet to the Gage Park shipping container to provide an opportunity for community members to test out the e-bikes, and ask our team of mechanics any questions they had regarding bikes. A huge thanks to everyone who stopped by! 

Left: adaptive bikes lined up beside the ERI tent. Right: A table with ERI stickers, bike maps, and other resources.

Do you have any questions about our e-bike fleet? We’re happy to answer! Feel free to connect with the Hamilton Bike Share Team on Instagram or Twitter.