Students got the chance to test an alternative form of transportation on Tuesday — in the form of an ELF.
UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Net Impact Club hosted a test drive with Organic Transit, an electric bicycle company, to promote sustainability on campus.
Majid Majzoubi, a business graduate student, was one of many students who test drove the ELF, the standard one-person electric bicycle, in the parking lot of Kenan-Flagler.
“It’s pretty agile and fast,” Majzoubi said. “It surprises you. I mean, it’s cooler than a normal bicycle, I would say.”
Majzoubi said he didn’t know how safe the ELF was, but it looked cool.
“I didn’t use the pedals — just the electric part, but it was really nice,” Majzoubi said. “It goes so fast that you’d probably be scared to take it to the maximum speed. And it looks very good.”
Leslie McDow, sales and marketing manager at Organic Transit, said the company focuses on three components — environment, health and safety.
“We have had a person get into a crash,” McDow said. “They got rear-ended and she was totally safe. She was completely fine. The shell was intact, her tire and frame bent, so we had to fix that.”
McDow said the ELF driver was sitting at a stop sign when she was rear-ended.
“The great thing is that they’re very visible,” McDow said.
McDow said Organic Transit vehicles have zero carbon emissions, encourage a physically active lifestyle and provide a safer option for cyclists. The Elf gets its charge from solar panels on the roof of the vehicle.
Senior business student Patrick White said he invited Organic Transit to UNC to increase student interest in sustainability.
White said he wants to see these bicycle cars on campus.
“I don’t know that students could afford it on their own, so I think the headway would definitely have to be made by clubs, such as the Net Impact Club or the sustainability office even, to actually get them,” White said.
White said Organic Transit vehicles would be useful for more people on campus than just students.
“The police department at Duke actually uses them and they’re actually the first ones on the scene at Duke when there’s like crimes or whatever. The ELF gets there before cars, it gets there before bikes,” White said.
White said he worked with the Center for Sustainable Enterprise to plan and get permission to bring the Durham startup to campus.
Nathan Jeffay, the quality assurance manager for Organic Transit, said ELF stands for electric, light and fun because of the nature of its uses.
“As far as hauling gear and people, they have another entirely different vehicle that’s in prototyping right now, called an Ox that’s a more utility vehicle designed version of (the ELF),” Jeffay said.
Jeffay said there is a $4 student fee from the Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee per semester that could be used to pay for these Organic Transit vehicles.
“It’s managed by students and it’s meant to be spent on renewable energy projects,” Jeffay said. “So if a student wants to take action, it’s the best way to do it.”
Jeffay said students would need to formulate a proposal and submit it to the committee at the beginning of the year.
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