Julie Edwards was working in the remote village of Bella Bella when she first fell in love with electric bicycles.
“I needed to get my groceries and I couldn’t afford to take my car over on the ferry every time I went up, so I spontaneously bought an electric bike,” she said. “And I loved it, it was just fantastic.”
Not only did the bike easily take her up the hill to get her groceries but it saved a huge amount in gas and insurance costs. And it was enormously fun.
Edwards now co-owns Pedego Electric Bikes in Qualicum Beach with Ruby Berry. The store opened last month and will be having a grand opening on May 10.
Hailing from Ucluelet, Edwards worked in the fishing industry for 40 years, and for the last 35 she managed fish plants and traveled around setting them up.
After leaving Bella Bella, she remained intrigued with electric bikes and worked at a shop that sold them in Courtenay. Her favourite brand of bike, and the one she sold the most of, was a brand called Pedego based out of California.
She did some research and headed south to see about the possibility of opening up a Pedego shop in Canada. It turns out the company was eager to open a shop north of the border.
Next came the tough decision of choosing a location for the shop. After looking into Qualicum Beach, she couldn’t get the idea out of her mind. And soon, it seemed like a no-brainer.
“I see Qualicum as a potential hub for the whole West and North Island,” she said.
This is because of the bike-friendly attitude of the town’s people and the way the village is set up, making it a beautiful destination for bike tours (which the store offers, along with rentals).
“You can totally imagine riding along the ocean or out to the hatchery or out to the farms,” she said.
Edwards initially fell in love with electric bikes because of their functional purpose. Because when she traveled 50 km a day, instead of spending $20 on gas it would only cost her .70 cents. And that includes the charging battery plus a replacement after five to eight years, and the hydro.
But she became hooked on the idea because she loves bike riding.
“I could go do it anytime, anywhere,” she said. “Some days I’d use the throttle (electric motor) more than others, and I could still bicycle and get all the beauty and joy of bicycling, which is getting outdoors, the wind in your hair kind of feeling, especially after being inside in the fish plant all day.”
Edwards is also excited about the benefits the bikes offer to the environment as well as a host of health benefits to the body and mind.
Now she attaches a trailer, made in Canada, to her bike to carry groceries and other items around town. And some of her bikes can tow up to 400 pounds.
The store in Qualicum Beach also sells rain gear, helmets, trailers and panniers.
Visit the store at 744A memorial Avenue in Qualicum Beach. Check out the website at www.pedegoqb.ca or call 250-738-9333.
The store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and that will switch to seven days a week at the end of May.