Philip Schwartz, a housing inspector who lives in south Minneapolis, swapped his SUV for a pilot e-bike last June.
He pedaled all through the winter, and this year the city equipped his division at work with a fleet of e-bikes to take on their daily rounds through the city’s dense neighborhoods. There are five of the bikes so far.
“I feel like I’m on vacation when I’m working,” Schwartz said Wednesday morning during a vacant-home inspection in Bancroft, one of about 30 he planned to conduct by midday. “I can take the creeks, I can take the parkways, the Greenway. There’s all these beautiful bike trails in the city, so it really does make the job enjoyable.”
Regulatory Services’ five Rad Power e-bikes cost approximately $12,000 in total. They can reach any property in the city and go as fast as 20 miles per hour, the limit for residential streets and parkways.
The e-bikes don’t replace the city’s fleet cars, but do provide another option for inspectors such as Schwartz, who want to work out as they work. Some find it easier to take an e-bike home instead of having to commute downtown first to sign one out, he said. They then get to zip around traffic and find parking almost wherever they like.
“When I’m on a bike, you have these really small interactions with people, just like a little nod or a little smile or people complimenting the bike,” Schwartz said. “When you’re in a car, you’re experiencing the city 30 miles an hour behind the windshield. … This, I feel like I’m really immersed in the neighborhoods and the people that live in them.”
None has been stolen, confirmed city spokesman Casper Hill. It would be hard. The bikes are really heavy.
“This has reduced gasoline consumption and wear and tear on fleet motor vehicles,” Hill said. “It has also reduced the volume of carbon emissions produced by the city.”
Since the start of the year, inspectors have traveled more than 1,200 miles on e-bikes. Schwartz said he’s talked to the city’s IT and Public Works departments, as well as the Park Board, about getting some for their staff.