A local e-bike rider has found a way to recharge his batteries at EV charging stations designed for cars

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

If you haven’t yet followed the electric cargo bike adventures of Tigard resident and Portland ubiquitous Shawne Martinez, you’re missing something. Shawne puts in many 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 across the city.

On Tuesday he shared a short video on Twitter who showed off his bike plugged into a Volta charging station at the Bridgeport Village shopping center in Tigard. This is notable because this charging station, like many others that are installed throughout the state, was only intended 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 bought our e-bike. I’ve had some level of range anxiety the whole time, although it’s been a lot less since I invested in a second battery. Even in the cold winter months, we can enjoy a 35 mile day that includes 2,200′ of elevation gain as we hike through the rolling hills of southwest Portland. This includes transporting a 6 year old child, his bike and all his belongings in our electric bucket bike. On these long trips, I always carry my charger and stop at a few places with reliable public power outlets to get a few extra miles of free electricity.

(Pictures: Shawne Martinez)

One of our regular stops is the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) Solar Charging Station. This solar panel provides four bike racks with built-in 110VAC outlets as well as two EV chargers. A few weeks ago we stopped at OMSI (we are members) for lunch at their deli/snack bar. We took our sandwiches outside to the solar charger and plugged in. To my surprise, the sockets were dead! A few people stood nearby and explained that the outlets weren’t working, possibly due to the cloudy weather.

The OMSI charging station only has standard sockets for bicycles. But unlike the installations intended for cars, there is no charging cord and the sockets do not always work.
(Pictures: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

I noticed they both had electric unicycles (EUC) with them. “Can I look at your charger? one of them asked. They turned it over to read the label. “It’ll work. Want to plug in? I looked down and traced the wires coming from their EUCs. They were plugged into the electric car charger! They had a special adapter (pictures above) to use the J1772 car charger socket which used our original 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 had lunch. We learned all about an EUC store in Vancouver, WA (REV Rides) and talked about how hard it is to find public power outlets in Portland. I’ve shared some tips for power outlets in Washington County, including the Tigard and Beaverton libraries. We unplugged after gaining 7 miles of range and I thanked them for their help. Before we part ways, they shared the source for their awesome EV charger adapter that they bought from a site called Alien Rides for $170. (If you decide to buy one of these adapters, make sure your charging brick can handle both 110 and 220 VAC, as indicated on the label.)

It was so great talking to these people about EUCs and sharing their knowledge about e-micromobility. Check out Kelly Chameleons on Instagram for inspiration from EUC! This may be my next e-micromobility purchase!

Thanks for sharing this with us Shawne!

Given the transformative potential of electric bikes, people shouldn’t have to find expensive DIY solutions like this, especially when people who drive electric cars can do so for free and easily. To me, this illustrates a huge blind spot in the electric vehicle industrial complex where most policy makers are so enamored with cars that they cannot envision a future where the electric vehicle landscape is dominated by bicycles and the like – much smaller and much smarter! — vehicle types like EUCs, e-boards, scooters, etc.

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 sidelined e-bikes. (Luckily, ODOT heard this criticism and is now looking to learn more about e-bike charging needs.)

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