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It's electric !

Some rode on two wheels, others on four, while many just looked on, kicked the tires and asked questions of the experts on hand to learn more about electric vehicles at the “Ride and Drive” event on campus last month.

“I had just seen a PBS story about electric bikes and then I got the [Growing Green] email about the test drive event on campus. It was an amazing coincidence,” said Ivy Khevali, a clinical research coordinator in the Emergency Medicine Department. “I was excited to go, I wanted to see what all the hype was about.”

The October 18 event was hosted by UMass Chan Medical School and co-organized by Recharge Massachusetts, a nonprofit public/private partnership sponsored by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

More than 200 people attended, taking a total of 57 test rides in electric vehicles while 18 people, including Khevali, opted to ride an electric bicycle.

“Maybe it was just a perception, but I felt safer on the e-bike than my regular bike,” Khevali said. “It felt very stable. Pedaling is the same, but the motor gives you that extra ‘umph,’ which was great going up hills.”

Available for test drives that day were a Toyota BZ4Xm, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Solterra, Volkswagen ID.4 and a Lucid Air Grand Touring. The EVs were provided by Herb Chambers Toyota, Midstate Mitsubishi, Patrick Subaru & Volkswagen and Lucid Motors. Landry’s Bicycles brough an array of e-bikes for people to ride.

In addition, seven people from the community brought their personal EVs to the event to “showcase” their features and discuss their own experiences as EV owners.

“It was a great day,” said Kortni Wroten, sustainability and energy manager at UMass Chan. “There was a steady stream of people throughout the event, asking lots of great questions.”

Wroten notes that greenhouse gas emissions from campus commuters is a major part of UMass Chan’s carbon footprint, which is why the Office of Sustainability is encouraging alternatives, like increased use of public transportation and electric vehicles.

Read more about the campus EV charging program here.

Other groups participating in the event included AAA, Worcester County Women's Cycling, 2 Gether We Eat, the UMass Chan Office of Well-Being, Green Energy Consumer Alliance, National Grid Sustainability Hub, Walkbike, MassBike, Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, Mass Clean Energy Center, CLEAResult/Mass Save, Fix Hybrid, City of Worcester Department of Transportation & Mobility, and the Worcester Regional Transit Authority

“I was delighted with the success of the event, between the great turnout and the very high number of test drives taken,” said Madeleine Blum, state program and events manager at Recharge America, the parent company of Recharge Massachusetts. “There was a wide variety of showcase vehicles, test drive vehicles, e-bikes, and exhibitors and my favorite part was seeing all the thoughtful conversations between attendees and exhibitors and EV owners.”