Wi­dener prof puts pedal to the met­tle

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS - By Colin Ainsworth cainsworth@del­co­times.com

CH­ESTER » The Greater Philadel­phia area is mark­ing Bike to Work Day to­day, May 18, but for Wi­dener Univer­sity Pro­fes­sor of Bi­ol­ogy and En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence Bruce Grant, Ph.D., it’s a daily com­mute like any other.

Af­ter a life­time bik­ing, Grant de­cided to fully com­mit on June 15, 2017, and re­tired his Subaru af­ter 250,000 miles in fa­vor an elec­tric bi­cy­cle.

“My wife has a handme-down Toy­ota Ma­trix for any­thing fur­ther than 10 miles, but we’re work­ing on that,” said Grant. Track­ing his mileage on a spread­sheet, Grant has now logged over 2,500 miles on his iZip E3 Vibe elec­tric bi­cy­cle, in­clud­ing close to 1,800 miles from his 9.5 mile daily com­mute to Wi­dener from his Walling­ford home.

Grant charges the bike at his home pow­ered 100 per­cent by wind through the Philadel­phia-based En­ergy Co-op, which whole­sales al­ter­na­tive en­ergy for dis­tri­bu­tion by PECO.

“When I first got to Wi­dener (24 years ago), I used to use a reg­u­lar bike a lot, but I’m to­tally sold on the ebike,” he said. “I’ve got some big sad­dle bags on it and can carry 20 to 30 pounds of gro­ceries with­out any dif­fi­culty.”

Grant sees the con­stant tech­ni­cal im­prove­ments and re­duced costs of elec­tric bi­cy­cles as one mar­ket­based way the gen­eral pub­lic can per­son­ally com­mit to re­duced pol­lu­tion in the face of cli­mate change.

“I have tremen­dous faith in the mar­ket,” he said. “Coal and fos­sil fuel-emit­ting tech­nolo­gies are on their way out. The real bat­tle ground is crit­i­cal think­ing. If we can see sys­tems of time frame and de­ci­sions … the mar­ket will take care of it­self.”

“This bike paid for it­self in nine months from mileage and car in­sur­ance costs,” said Grant, re­fer­ring to spread­sheets on the IRS mileage rate and monthly ex­pense es­ti­mates from his Subaru. “The bike is one-tenth the ex­pense for ma­jor re­pair.”

While the mar­ket is pre­sent­ing con­sumers with more practical and af­ford­able au­to­mo­bile al­ter­na­tives, in­fra­struc­ture in ar­eas like Delaware County still pre­sents a chal­lenge.

“It’s kind of a hard sell,” he said. “I wish that’s some­thing that the town­ships would unify around – we need safer bike lanes. I sus­pect a lot of folks don’t do it be­cause they’re scared.”

“You need a 3-foot bike lane, the math is that sim­ple,” he said. Grant es­ti­mates it will take a gen­er­a­tion to ex­pand bi­cy­clist­friendly in­fra­struc­ture. He cited Philadel­phia’s Schuylkill River Trail and the ex­pan­sion of the East Coast Green­way – which will in­clude Ch­ester – as be­gin­nings of the move­ment.

While the bike in­fra­struc­ture in Delaware County may not be as de­vel­oped as Philadel­phia, Grant did point to ex­ten­sive SEPTA bus routes as an al­ter­na­tive to daily per­sonal driv­ing, us­ing his two chil­dren as ex­am­ples. At 23 and 26, they have never got­ten driver’s li­censes, choos­ing to use pub­lic trans­porta­tion.

“We have to think about our fu­ture; we’re go­ing to need to make some changes and it be­gins at home,” said Grant. “’Ecol­ogy is the study of the home – the Greek is ‘eco,’ home, and ‘-ol­ogy,’ the study of. With this bike, I’m bring­ing the study home.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Wi­dener Univer­sity Pro­fes­sor Bruce Grant on cam­pus with his elec­tric bi­cy­cle.

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