Diablo Valley College has announced that later this month it will host Electric Vehicles for Equity, the first electric vehicle test-driving event to be held on the campus. The Oct. 25 event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in DVC’s Parking Lot 8, near the staircase, and will be open to the Pleasant Hill community as well as to students and staff.
“We have a test drive route around [the DVC campus],” said Maureen Blanc, executive director of the non-profit Charge Across Town (CAT), during a Sept. 23 DVC Sustainability Committee meeting held via Zoom.
Blanc’s organization focuses on promoting electric transportation to help reduce harmful carbon emissions. According to CAT’s website, nearly 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the San Francisco Bay Area come from cars and trucks.
CAT has spent ten years promoting what it calls a “fun, user-friendly, non-sales environment” for electric vehicles (EV), hosting events like this one to provide information about the cars and offer test drives to those interested in switching to a zero emission vehicle.
People interested in taking a new or used electric car, or bike, for a test drive during the event are encouraged to make reservations on the Electric Vehicles for Equity Eventbrite page. The vehicle test drives are one driver per car; participants must be 21 years or older and sign a waiver that confirms they are covered by insurance and are not under the influence of any impairing substances.
Local EV owners and e-bike riders will be available on-site for discussion about electric-based transportation, and there will be information about the credits, grants, rebates and loans available to those who choose to make the switch to zero emission transportation.
The idea to hold the event at DVC arose after Kirsten Riker, from 511 Contra Costa, mentioned the opportunity to the college’s sustainability committee. 511, a county-wide program that works to reduce traffic and improve air quality by helping to promote mobility options beyond driving alone, participates in an e-bike rebate program that offers cash rebates for residents who buy an e-bike or e-moped, or who convert their bike to electric. The group plans to offer the rebate program during the Oct. 25 event. Participants testing out e-bikes are required to fill out a waiver.
Other partners helping host Electric Vehicles for Equity include RidePanda, a platform for buying e-bikes, e-mopeds and e-scooters, and Drive Clean Bay Area, a collaboration of nonprofit organizations, schools, agencies, cities, and businesses with a common goal of reducing carbon emissions by advancing the adoption of EVs. DVC’s Culinary School is also offering a lunch coupon to the first 100 participants in the event.
“I would guess that a small percent of DVC employees and students now drive EVs,” David Hagerty, the chair of DVC’s Sustainability Committee and manager of Disability Support Services, wrote in a Sept. 23 email to The Inquirer.
But, “I believe that will change over the next several years, as there are more choices available and people come to understand the benefits.”
Hagerty said the presence of 20 electric vehicle charging stations at the Pleasant Hill campus, as well as 10 stations at the San Ramon campus, could encourage this trend. “I bought my first [EV] this year and was surprised at how quiet, affordable, and convenient they are, as well as being eco-friendly,” he added.
Eco-friendly habits are becoming more commonplace at DVC. Last year, Hagerty said, the sustainability committee studied ways to reduce waste production on campus. Reduction methods such as auditing the segregation of landfill waste from recycling and compost, as well as the use of email, social media, and a website to announce and promote sustainability, are now being implemented. Water-bottle filling stations exist at the college, and all-compost garbage bin liners are in use.
“I hope to see many students and staff at the [electric vehicle] event. Even if you don’t want to take a test drive, come down to look at the vehicles and learn more about them,” Hagerty said.
CAT’s Maureen Blanc emphasized the central educational goal of Electric Vehicles for Equity: to show the community just how easy it is to go electric.
“We’re super excited to be hosting this [event] on the DVC campus,” she said.