The story of a man, his dog, and the awesome commute they share each day

WWU Web Developer Brent Carey was tired of the hour-and-a-half commute by bus to get to campus from his home in Birch Bay.

Carey experiences seizures, and because of their frequency is no longer able to drive. Being an avid cyclist, he decided it was time to look into alternative forms of transportation, which led him to purchasing an ELF, a solar and pedal hybrid electric vehicle made in Durham, North Carolina by Organic Transit.

The ELF is a good compromise that gives him freedom without being too risky, he said. After researching alternative transportation, he found the ELF, which fit his idea. Carey found a dealer in Portland, Oregon that had exactly the model he wanted.

Carey called up the dealer and to his pleasant surprise, they had just ordered three of them from the manufacturer.

On July 28, Carey picked up his new ride and has taken the hybrid vehicle with his co-pilot service dog, an English shepherd named Kelby, to campus every day since.

The ride takes about the same amount of time to commute by bus, but Carey enjoys his trip in the ELF much better than sitting on the bus.

“I get here without working up a sweat,” Carey said. “It's about 22 miles each way and it feels like I went about half that distance on a regular bike.”

After some trial and error, Carey thinks he found the quickest and smoothest route. The hybrid vehicle averages about 17-18 mph on his trips to campus and rides right on the road; just as nice is the fact that according to the manufacturer, the ELF gets the equivalent of 1,800 miles per gallon, a figure arrived at by calculating the cost of the electricity needed to charge it.

Carey said he loves the alternative-transportation perks of having a solar and pedal powered vehicle.

“It doesn't make me feel bad to drive by the gas stations,” Carey said jokingly.

The hybrid vehicle attracts a lot of attention and Carey wants to see more of this type of alternative transportation around the community.

“People ask me about it all the time. I hope it creates a little bit of momentum,” Carey said.

Brent and Kelby in the ELF; photo by Kit Hipple
Heading down the road; photo by Kit Hipple
Co-pilot Kelby; photo by Kit Hipple