Site icon BikePortland

A local e-bike rider has found a way to juice-up at EV charging stations built for cars


Shawne Martinez purchased a $170 adapter that allows him to charge at stations like this one at Bridgeport Village. (Photo: Shawne Martinez)

If you aren’t following the electric cargo bike adventures of Tigard resident and ubiquitous Portland rider Shawne Martinez yet, you are missing out. Shawne logs serious miles and is always pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with an e-bike as he regularly pedals from his home on the Portland-Tigard border to destinations citywide.

On Tuesday he shared a short video on Twitter that showed his bike hooked-up to a Volta charging station at Bridgeport Village shopping center in Tigard. This is notable because this charging station, like many of the other snazzy ones being installed throughout the state, was only meant to charge cars.

Shawne reached out to us to share how he did it…

It’s been two years and 10,000 miles since we purchased our e-bike. I’ve had some level of range anxiety the whole time, although it’s been much less since investing in a second battery. Even during the cold winter months we can enjoy a 35 mile day that includes 2,200′ of elevation gain traveling through the southwest Portland hills. This includes hauling a 6 year old, their bike and all their stuff in our electric bucket bike. On these longer trips I still carry my charger and stop at a few spots that have reliable public power outlets to get a few extra miles of free power.

Advertisement

(Photos: Shawne Martinez)

One of our usual stops is the solar charging station at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). This solar array provides four bike racks that have built-in 110VAC outlets as well as two EV chargers. A few weeks ago we stopped at OMSI (we are members) to grab lunch at their deli/snack bar. We took our sandwiches outside to the solar charger and plugged in. To my surprise, the outlets were dead! A couple of people were standing nearby and explained that the outlets weren’t working, possibly due to the cloudy day.

Charging station at OMSI only has standard outlets for bikes. But unlike the facilities provided for cars, there’s no charging cord and the outlets don’t always work.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

I noticed they both had electric unicycles (EUC) with them. “Can I look at your charger?” one of them asked. They flipped it over to read the label. “That will work. You want to plug in?” I looked down and traced the wires coming from their EUCs. They were plugged in to the electric car charger! They had a special adapter (photos above) to use the J1772 car charger plug that allowed use of our stock charging brick. And it could charge three devices at once!

We plugged in our e-bike and chatted with these two EUC riders while we ate lunch. We learned all about a EUC shop in Vancouver, WA (REV Rides) and talked about the difficulty finding public power outlets in Portland. I shared some tips about power outlets in Washington County, including the Tigard and Beaverton libraries. We unplugged after gaining 7 miles of range and I thanked them for the help. Before we parted ways, they shared the source of their awesome EV charger adapter which they purchased from a site called Alien Rides for $170. (If you decide to buy one of these adapters, be sure that your charging brick can handle both 110 and 220VAC as shown on the label.)

It was so awesome to talk to these people on EUCs and share e-micromobility knowledge. Check out Kelly Chameleons on Instagram for EUC inspiration! This may be my next e-micromobility purchase!

Thanks for sharing this with us Shawne!

Given the transformative potential of e-bikes, people should not have to figure out expensive, DIY solutions like this — especially when people who drive e-cars can do it free and easy. To me, this illustrates a massive blind spot in the EV industrial complex where most policymakers are so enamored with cars they cannot envision a future where the EV landscape is dominated by bikes and other — much smaller and much smarter! — types of vehicles like EUCs, e-boards, scooters, and more.

We saw this play out last year when the Oregon Department of Transportation embarked on a “Transportation Electrification Infrastructure and Needs Assessment” project that completely marginalized e-bikes. (Thankfully ODOT has heard this criticism and is now looking to learn more about e-bike charging needs.)

As Oregon decides how to spend federal EV infrastructure dollars, organizations like ODOT and statewide EV nonprofit Forth must connect with people like Shawne to better understand how to make charging stations accessible to as many types of EV users as possible.