CCHD Adds ELF to Fleet of Vehicles

The average cost of a new gas powered vehicle is $25,000, and, according to AAA Mountain West, owning and operating that vehicle will cost approximately $9,122 per year.  With this in mind, it makes sense that public agencies might look to see how they can cut costs and be the most responsible stewards of the public’s tax dollar.  After researching and realizing that about 67% of the business-related trips Health Department staff make are within 2 miles of the building, Alicia M. Thompson, the Cascade City-County Health Department (CCHD) Health Officer, felt that the agency should look into other options when replacing the aging gas powered vehicles in the fleet.  In her research, Ms. Thompson discovered the company Organic Transit and their innovative solar/pedal hybrid vehicle, the ELF.  This velomobile is a recumbent three-wheeled cycle with different options for power: peddling, electric, and solar.  Ideally, it operates on a combination of the three, which makes it eco friendly.  In fact, Organic Transit estimates that an ELF could get the equivalent of 1,800 miles per gallon.  The ELF has a comfortable sitting position, large wheels, easy steering and shifting mechanisms, a tall frame for visibility, and other practical attributes which make it a great choice for an agency like CCHD.  The cost of an ELF is $5,000, which is an impressive savings when compared to the $25,000 price tag on an average vehicle.

One of the first steps Ms. Thompson took was to talk with the staff to see if they would support the idea of alternative transportation.  The response from CCHD employees was very positive, and they indicated they would fully support this addition to the fleet.  Ms. Thompson and staff recognized that this is a great opportunity for the agency to show their commitment towards healthy, active living.  It has been shown that short bursts of exercise help people maintain a healthy weight, and the ELF builds those bursts into the employees’ normal commutes throughout the day.  Ms. Thompson shares her excitement over the ELF when she says, “The purchase and use of the ELF is a good investment for CCHD and has great potential for producing excellent outcomes – in both human health and the efficient use of resources.”

The ELF recently arrived at CCHD, and interested staff were trained in its safe operation, Montana bike and pedestrian laws, and other pertinent information.  All employees who use the ELF must go through this training prior to use.  They are also required to wear a helmet and adhere to strict safety standards when operating this new and exciting addition to the fleet.