I love bikes.
In fact I have a bit of a collection for a variety of terrains (Mountain, Gravel, Road, Commute). I use my bikes for leisure and for transportation, and – until this year – my bike was powered exclusively by me.
But a recent switch in schools for my youngest child required a commute through Vancouver that required some thoughtful reconsideration...
How long would the route take in a car on Vancouver’s roadways?
How far can she ride a bike before she’s done?
And would she have the peddle-power to make it home after a long day? And would the accompanying adult want to do four of those trips a day – there and back for a drop; there and back for the pick-up?
Was the best option to move to the other side of the city?
(The resounding “NOOOO” from the pack still rings in my ears).
And then it came to us. The only sustainable way to make sure that our commute was consistently low impact was an electric cargo bike where our child is the cargo. In fact, we have found that we don’t just use it to transport our little one to school and back but also to all her sporting ventures and well as trips to the grocery store and such. It’s great, you just bike right up and drop off.
We have done over 2000 kms in less than 6 months. This is now our preferred local mode of transportation and here are the reasons why.
The bike we purchased is – hands-down – one of the best investments we’ve made. It was a bit spendy but I believe that, when it comes to electric bikes, you get what you pay for. The good news is it will pay for itself in saved parking, insurance and fuel costs.
We move faster than the cars that are clogging the streets. It’s a great ride, and my daughter feels comfortable and secure. Vancouver is relatively bike friendly so we take bike routes almost all the time. It’s easier than a car and there’s never an issue finding a place to park. You don’t need special athletic gear – this bike is just as happy with your work clothes, play clothes, or school clothes.
You get some exercise – at the level you want
I get as much exercise as I choose and and never more than I want. You can adjust the amount of “assist” but you always have to pedal. And, as we are much more likely to take this bike than our standard bikes, we are clocking far more “pedalling” hours now. The low-impact of pedalling will accommodate this type of exercise well into our advancing years. I sometimes am challenged to build exercise into my day (lack of time, reduced options during lock-downs, or injuries) but I can always get it on my commute to and from the office or the elementary school.
Vancouver is a rainy place with one of the most temperate climates in Canada. We rarely see snow, so we don’t really have to do anything to prepare for wintery road conditions. Hello friends in Calgary (where they saw the white stuff well into the month of May this year)... you may be interested in the balloon tires that hug a snowy road. Here on the Wet Coast, I will likely invest in the new attachments they have to provide some rain coverage.
It has environmental benefits
So much better for the environment than cars, electric bikes have virtually zero emissions, and are not dependent on fossil fuels (at least not in British Columbia where hydro is the primary energy source) and they do not pollute the air. Added bonus - they’re quiet so they don’t contribute to noise pollution, save for the bell you may have to use once in a while.
Supply chain issues
COVID has increased the demand for anything related to outdoor activities and, of course, that includes all types of bikes. At the same time, COVID has disrupted supply chains causing a real lag in meeting demand. For the sake of the planet, let’s hope that the demand keeps growing for all the reasons mentioned and, as we come out of COVID, the supply issues get smoothed out. However, in the short and even medium terms, continue to expect delays in delivery of the bikes and their parts. (You knew I’d bring it back here, right?)
In an article in Car and Driver “The Ride into Our Electric Future Will Be Led by Bikes, 2019”, it was predicted that 300 million electric bikes will be out on the world's roads by 2023. I get it. It’s the way to roll.