Q COSTA RICA – The electric bicycle may be the solution for many to the ever-growing traffic congestion that has gridlocked the greater metropolitan area of San Jose (GAM).
travelling to up three hours a day to and from work on bus can easily be done in less than an hour on a bicycle. Such was the case of Willy Salazar, who decided for an other option for his daily travel from Guadalupe to La Uruca.
But, for the 38-year-old Salazar, who is not an athlete, the 11 kilometres would have been complicated on a standard bike.
What to do? An online search on electric bicycles brought some answers. But isn’t cheap. At least not for the moment.
Salazar found that prices for an electric bike range from ¢495,000 to ¢750,000 colones (US$885 to US$1,350 dollars at the current exchange rate), depending on the type of motor (250 watts and 350 watts) and battery (36 volts, the most common in the market). And if imported or local.
According to Mario Monge of Green Bike Costa Rica, who distributes the Italian made Longwise electric bikes in Costa Rica since 2013, “It’s not a scooter, it’s not that you’re going get on and you’re not going to pedal, but it’s a very smooth and comfortable pedaling, without having to work up a sweat.”
Monge says that in the last four years he’s sold some 60 of the Longwise bikes that can travel up to 50 kilometres on a single six-hour charge.
Although the initial cost is pretty high, at least for the moments, the savings can be tremendous. And it is friendly to the environment.
Ivannia Barrantes, a 37-year-old manicurist told La Nacion that, after purchasing her electric bike, she stopped spending the ¢60,000 a month she usually did on taxis.
The woman, living in San Joaquin de Flores, in Heredia says she uses her bike to visit her clients.
“I preferred to invest in the electric bike, I was used to riding a bike for recreational, but the electric bike gives me the possibility for home visits and not arrive sweaty,” said Barrantes, who purchased the bike one month ago.
Finding that the all the imported electric bikes were not suited for Costa Rica’s weather and topography – the many steep hills of San Jose – two months ago Wild Bikes launched the first line of electric bikes made for the country.
According to the company, their product responds to meet the needs of the Costa Rican urban cyclist.
Jeffrey Segura, marketing manager for Wild Bikes, said that since January 2016 the company began manufacturing bikes designed for the GAM. Of the first lot of 200 units, they have already sold 25.