Who’s the Man on the Red Electric Scooter?

Read more about Jimmy Karlan’s experience with electric transportation, in the April 2013 Green Energy Times.

You may have seen a red electric scooter parked under AUNE’s front portico. That belongs to Jimmy Karlan, MST ’82, director of the Science Teacher Certification Concentration and core faculty in the Department of Environmental Studies, who is doing his part to grapple with climate change.

By riding the all-electric scooter on his 60-mile round-trip commute from Vermont, Karlan has kept a lot of carbon emissions out of the air since he bought it in September 2011.I’ve reduced my carbon footprint some 1.56 metric tons over the 7,000 miles I drove my electric bike rather than drive my 2008 Prius to commute to Antioch, he said.

Karlan’s 2009 VX-1 gets 35 to 55 miles per charge with its current battery. The cost: just 75 cents to charge it up completely, or a couple of pennies per mile. With an upgrade to a lithium ion battery ; coming soon ; the bike will have a range of 55 to 85 miles before it must be plugged in again, curing Karlan’s range anxiety.

The beautiful thing is I’ll always be leaving home with a full tank, he said.

Karlan had never ridden a motorcycle before when he saw an advertisement in the Brattleboro Reformer for electric scooters being sold by local car dealer Stacey Subaru. He test-drove a VX-1 in the parking lot, got his motorcycle license and came back to Stacey to give one a road-test. Then he bought it.

The climate may be warming; nevertheless, a New Hampshire winter is still chilly. But Karlan reports he’s very comfortable commuting in temperatures as low as 20 degrees F. and possibly colder. What’s the secret? Rechargeable electric gloves that Karlan plugs in when he gets to the office. He also wears several layers, including snowboarder pants over his jeans, and Sorel boots with a couple of pairs of socks. So everything is cozy. I don’t feel any discomfort and there’s no reason not to ride if the roads are dry, he said. Last winter, I road my bike until mid-January.

He’s happy that the bike is zero-emission, but he is well aware that electricity production to fuel it is not. What I’m banking on is, as the electric vehicle becomes more affordable and we have more options, our policy makers will be plugging into cleaner sources of energy. And he hopes that someday in the near future, AUNE will have a charging station set up in its parking lot to make it easy and convenient for commuters to turn to electric vehicles.