Easier Rider: Invention designed to end E-ZPass inconveniences for bikers

Motorcycle riders who’ve had to hang their E-ZPass tags from their helmets, duct-tape them to their bikes’ windshields or desperately search for them in the final seconds before pulling into the tollbooth might love to have Jesus Rivera Jr.’s new invention, but they’ll have to wait.

Rivera, a Montclair resident for the past eight years, has come up with a novel accessory that enables the tags to be mounted on cyclists’ apparel in a location where they can be easily detected by E-ZPass sensors at the tolls.

The 32-year-old inventor has enlisted the help of Invent-Tech, a Coral Gables, Fla. publicity and marketing company, to pitch the gadget to manufacturers.

Jorge Puertas, a spokesman for Invent-Tech, said the effort is in its early stages. Rivera is hoping to strike a licensing deal under which he will retain ownership of the idea while collecting a fee from the licenser, which will mass-produce the product, stamp it with a brand name and sell it to consumers.

Neither Puertas nor Rivera could disclose the specific structural or functional details of the invention, since a contract has not been signed and the concept has not obtained patent protection yet.

Rivera, a motorcyclist since he was 18, said bikers prefer using E-ZPass rather than taking the change lane, where they need to fumble for coins, a process complicated by their riding gloves, and to make a complete stop in order to pay.

But E-ZPass presents motorcyclists with issues not faced by the drivers of other vehicles, such as how to mount the tag and where to situate it so it registers at the tollbooth.

Some riders affix it to a random spot on their bikes and hope for the best. Others hold the tag up as they sail through the tolls, but Rivera said he’s tried that and gotten a summons, since apparently he was holding it out of the reader’s range.

Sometimes more creative methods are employed. Rivera strapped the E-ZPass tag to his helmet “in an unconventional manner” using his goggles during a long road trip in summer 2005, but all the jostling and vibration from riding caused it to fall off when he was down in Cape May.

“When you’re going 80 mph, you’re not going to pull over to find it,” he said, so he ended up paying the $30 deactivation fee and got a replacement tag.

That experience was the inspiration for Rivera’s invention, the Moto Pass. He experimented with a homemade prototype on rides starting in summer 2006, and so far, so good.

“I haven’t gotten a ticket,” he said.

Rivera said he rides on the weekends and on nice days, as well as in charities’ fundraisers.

He said he finds the benefit rides, which usually raise money for sick children or for fallen firefighters or police officers, on the Internet. They’re generally 60-mile scenic drives, some extending into neighboring states. The longest took him from Montclair to Ocean City, Md., a route that involves a number of tolls.

As the popularity of electronic toll payment expands, Puertas said there is a strong market for Rivera’s Moto Pass. He’s never seen anything like it, Puertas added.

Right now Rivera’s just hopeful the Moto Pass will bring in some supplemental income.

Rivera doubted that the proceeds from any future licensing agreement would allow him to quit his day job as a lab office manager at Kuwata Pan Dent Corp., a Cedar Knolls company that makes dentures, crowns and veneers based on doctors’ specifications.

“Any inventor would love for that to happen,” he said. “But I’m not banking on it.”

Contact Dan Prochilo at prochilo@montclairtimes.com


Article published by the Montclair Times