CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — The owner of a new electric-bike shop in Charlottetown says the public is buzzing with excitement for his product.
The Rising Tides Electrical Bicycle shop, which opened on lower Queen Street in the PEI capital on July 22, offers brand-new electric bikes, known as e-bikes, to rent or buy.
One of the reasons for starting the business was to create a space in Charlottetown where people could choose a fast yet eco-friendly means of transportation, owner Frank MacEachern said during a recent interview with Saltwire Network.
“Climate change had a significant effect on the business model,” he said.
“I wasn’t ready to retire, and I wanted to start a business that could make a little bit of a difference in people’s lives and the climate,” he said.
‘I was hooked’
MacEachern has been an avid cyclist for over 50 years.
He began doing research on e-bikes over the past several years and thinking of ways to start a business that would be sustainable in the long-run.
“The more I delve into it, the better the idea seemed. I couldn’t say no after a while, I was hooked.”
For MacEachern, it was important to purchase bikes the average person could afford. Choosing a brand that offered a wide range of bikes at varying prices was critical.
“The most expensive bike we have is 3,500 dollars,” said MacEachern.
Although that price may seem high, many high-end e-bikes in Canada can cost over $10,000.
Renting is currently an option, with costs ranging from $40 per hour to $80 per day. Payment plans are also something the business plans to implement soon.
Every bike in the shop is fitted with both-pedal-assist and safety lights– both legal requirements in PEI
Most of the bikes at the shop can travel up to 80 km before needing to be charged.
“They can go a long way. If you got a big hill you want to tackle, you can just hit the throttle and it will take you up the hill,” MacEachern said.
Kyle Gormley, an employee at the shop, got into e-biking recently as a result of the increasing rise of inflation across the province.
“As someone who has been suffering through (rising) gas prices and all the increases, it’s nice to have an alternative that is more affordable outright,” said Gormley.
There is nothing to hold back people from buying or renting an e-bike, he added.
“We’ve got probably the best prices as far as e-bikes are concerned, and there is really a bike for everybody. I can’t think of a reason for people not to get on one.”
McEachern says Rising Tides has one of the largest e-bike selections in Atlantic Canada, with more than 200 bikes available in the store.
Rules of the road
• E-bikes are not permitted in public parks but can be authorized with special permission from any provincial municipality.
• E-bikes are allowed on the highway, but only if a bike lane is available or on the shoulder of the highway if no lane is provided.
• E-bikes are only permitted on the Confederation Trail if the driver is operating a power-assisted bicycle between April 1 and Nov. 30.
It’s a great feeling to own a business you know is trying to make a difference, MacEachern said.
“Getting out of our cars is one of those things everyday Canadians and Islanders can do to help fight (climate change). What better way to do it than on an e-bike?”
Rafe Wright is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, a position covered by the federal government. He writes about climate change issues for the SaltWire Network in Prince Edward Island and can be reached by email at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @wright542.