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Pedal Power Helps Reduce Campus Emissions

Three new additions to the fleet of University Campus vehicles have boosted the UMass Chan Medical School’s drive toward lower greenhouse gas emissions. Purchased in June, two Pietzo electric bicycles and one 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid car will allow the parking and campus police departments to do their work more sustainably. 

“Using bikes and hybrids on campus, instead of conventional gas-burning cars and trucks, is one way we can lower our carbon footprint,” said Bill Tsaknopoulos, director of auxiliary services, whose department is responsible for purchasing the vehicles. 

Kevin McFarland, UMass Chan parking enforcement officer, rides one of the electric bikes up to six hours a day through the campus parking lots and garages. Before getting the Pietzo, McFarland did his daily rounds in the department’s pick-up truck. “It’s easier getting around on the bike,” he said. “I’m able to get to areas a little quicker, and I can see more.” 

McFarland also makes fewer trips to the gas pump. The truck used to burn “at least one and a half tanks of gas a week just driving around campus,” he said. Now, driven mostly during inclement weather and for off-site trips, the truck goes nearly two and a half weeks on a tank of gas. 

According to Tsaknopoulos, the second electric bicycle is used by campus police for patrolling the Lake Avenue property, while the new Ford Fusion hybrid is being used by the police department as a non-patrol car. The hybrid, which replaced one of department’s seven gasoline vehicles, gets an average of 41 miles per gallon in city driving and 36 in highway driving. 

A battery-powered motor on the Pietzo bicycles gives either a pedal assist when riding up hills or full electric power (similar to a moped). The 54-pound bike can also be pedaled conventionally, without any power assist, which McFarland said is his preferred mode. Battery recharging takes about six hours, and each charge allows 20 miles of riding in full-power or 40 miles with power-assist. 

The electric bicycles and hybrid car join two electric GEM (global electric motorcars) vehicles that the Medical School has had for several years. “As we look at purchasing new vehicles, we’re going to be looking more and more at the hybrids as a way to reduce our carbon emissions.” Tsaknopoulos said. “We want to do everything we can to be more sustainable.” 

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