Back-pedalling on energy

Greens MP Ian Cohen gives Jan Barnham a ride on his tandem electric bicycle.
Greens MP Ian Cohen gives Jan Barnham a ride on his tandem electric bicycle. Northern Star

GREENS MP Ian Cohen can pick up hitchhikers on his pushbike - and still make it up the hills around Byron Bay without puffing.

That's thanks to the 200-watt electric motor he had installed on his custom-made tandem bicycle which allows him to glide around town without raising a sweat.

So far the MP, who divides his time between NSW Parliament in Sydney and his home at Broken Head, has clocked up about 400km on the bike, mainly between his local home and the shops of Byron Bay.

When he gets home, he simply plugs in the battery to get ready for the next trip.

“It runs around on rechargeable battery power,” Mr Cohen said as he showed off his new wheels with Byron Shire Mayor Jan Barham on the back seat.

“It gets me to town and back and I can pick up hitchhikers, even the mayor occasionally,” he joked.

Mr Cohen's tandem cruiser was built for him by Byron-based Thunderbird Electric Bicycles.

Owner Tim Seckold said it was the only tandem electric bike he had made in his five years in the business.

“The majority of electric bikes out there are do-it-yourself,” he said.

“And the majority of sales come from people who've had a go of someone else's.”

Mr Seckold said he had sold a few electric tricycles recently.

“Probably most of them have gone to elderly people. For them it's a little car,” he said.

Inspired by the electric bike, Cr Barham said she would propose Byron Shire Council add an electric scooter to the council's vehicle fleet, with a view to reducing greenhouse emissions.

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