Ready For Fitness: Getting Oakland Doctors To Prescribe Electric Bikeshare Memberships

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Oakland Spokes Bike Lounge owner Brian Drayton demonstrates how much he can do with a GenZe e-bike and a cargo trailer.

Since last week, commercial residents at Jack London Square were able to zip around on e-bikes. The bikeshare pilot program that will see eight solar powered e-bikes based at the waterfront attraction was launched early Jan at Oakland City Hall.

The e-bikes are provided by Fremont-based electric bicycle and scooter company, Mahindra Genze, and will be housed in a custom-built solar powered charging station provided by Concord-based DC Solar, making it the first solar bikeshare program in the country. What this small step in the direction to get Oaklanders out and about indicates is that perhaps we can soon expect Oakland doctors to prescribe bikeshare memberships like doctors in Boston are doing.

The electric bikeshare program is a creation of Bike Solar Oakland, a community partnership that aims to bring sustainable urban transportation via solar powered electric bicycles and scooters to Oakland, CA. The companies working together include California Clean Energy Fund, Oakland-based solar service company Sungevity and IRFTS Shadow Solar.

At the event, passers-by were allowed to test ride the bikes around the Oakland City Hall area. Those who missed the opportunity can still do so by dropping in at Oakland Spokes Bike Lounge on Grand Ave in Oakland. The community bike shop is GenZe’s sole dealer in the Bay Area and sole proprietor Brian Drayton is the man behind the effort to get doctors here to write e-bike prescriptions that will partially or fully cover their leased cost for the time patients need to be pedalling.

“Rather than get a pack of pills, I hope to see more people out riding bikes,” said Brian. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s obesity, anxiety or mental issues, riding a bike can help it because it’s a social activity that will get you out and about and working your body.”

According to the 2010 US Census, there were almost 42,000 seniors aged 65 and above living in Oakland. This number is undoubtedly higher today, and when approached at farmers markets and on the streets, many said that they used to ride bicycles but no longer did so due to health issues like leg, knee and hip pains.

So how can an e-bike help? Not only will the e-bike make it easier for seniors with disabilities to continue pedaling and working those leg muscles to stay healthy, active, alert and in the community, riding is likely to boost their confidence by empowering them with independent mobility.

The GenZe e-bikes are also environmentally considerate as their batteries will be connected to a mobile solar charging station. No fossil fuels burnt, no earth destroyed, while getting more people on bikes that fit their needs.

The e-bikes cost $1,499, and can go up to 18 mph. With detachable batteries that can be brought indoors to charge at home or at the workplace, each two hour charge can carry a rider and his load 35 miles.

“Many people think e-bikes make people lazy, but this is a pedal-assist bike, which means you’ll still have to pedal,” said Brian. “So far, I’ve carried more than 300 lbs of furniture and bicycles on my cargo trailer attached to the GenZe.”

Those interested in finding out more about GenZe e-bikes can visit Oakland Spokes at 366A Grand Ave, Oakland. For store hours, visit http://www.oaklandspokes.com

Next Article: Spin classes? Why should I?

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