Friday, September 16, 2016

National Drive Electric Week: 2 Skinny Wheels - Thinking Smaller

So, what's National Drive Electric Week all about? Is it to get everyone into an electric car? Or is it to get people out of gas-burning cars? For me, it's the latter. It is an opportunity to make a concerted effort to promote ways to help us all stop extracting, buying, and burning fossil fuels so that we can do less damage to the environment in which we live.

To celebrate National Drive Electric Week, I took Electric Bridget out for a ride on Saturday. And, no, Bridget is not an electric car -  she is an electric bicycle. Electric Bridget came to me as an old Bridgestone mountain bike that sat out in the weather for a while and was generally just neglected over the years. When I decided to build a low-dollar e-bike workhorse, EB got a new lease on life.

To be honest, I have ridden EB very little. Since EB does not (yet) have a pedelec controller, miles ridden on EB do not qualify for the National Bike Challenge. (But there are only 15 more days of that.)

So, I had kind of forgotten what it's like to ride an e-bike. It's awesome! I did a quick 8 miles. It was windy. I went up all of the slight inclines that feel like big hills on a non-electric bike. I still arrived home breathing hard and sweating, but I did eight miles in about the same time (and exertion) as I normally do four. I did not check, but I doubt that I ever exceeded 17 mph.

But it sure keeps me thinking...

One of my favorite blogs to read is Bike 5. The premise of that blog (Go read it already!) is pretty simple, For trips of 5 miles or less, a bicycle is best. (Health, budget, breathing, saving the planet, etc.) (Ironically, my office is 4.9 miles from my home.)

With the electric bike, it seems you could easily go to a bigger radius. (With apologies to Bob, who writes and lives Bike5.) One could easily create a blog for e-bikes called E-Bike15. For trips of 15 miles or less, the e-bike is best. From all of my DIY days, I have learned that having the right tool for the job makes almost everything better. I have lots of days where the bike (with me powering it) is not up to the job, but the 4,000 pound Dodge in my driveway is definitely overkill. At those times, the e-bike is the best tool for the job. It's hyper-efficient, fairly low-cost, and amazingly inexpensive to maintain and operate.

And then there's that whole commute with a smile idea. Some people refer to it as the "EV Grin". When I ride a bike I smile a lot more than when I drive a car. (E-Bikes are funner than cars, y'all!)

Honestly, not everyone needs an electric car in order to make a positive impact. With that in mind, consider the advantages of an electric bike: they are easier to park - you can even park one in your tiny house. Try that with a Nissan Leaf! You don't have to buy a big fancy charger or have your house rewired. And there are lots of different options for different needs, different budgets, and different physical abilities.

From this... this,
there's an e-bike for everyone.

In case you are wondering, this is not a Don't buy an electric car post. I love electric cars and see them as one great tool for cutting our dependence on carbon, but not everyone is in a place to own one. (I'm not.) If you're like me, the e-bike might be the next best thing. You might even come to realize that an e-bike is the best thing for you.

May you find the best thing for you and may it be a better thing for us all!