A tweet by RTE news journalist, Colman O Sullivan, earlier this week has prompted me to publish something I wrote some time back on the numerous advantages of e-bikes. Colman's tweet, which really resonated with me was as follows:
"Recently went over 10,000km on the e-bike in about 2 years use. E-bikes are a game changer- it is a significant investment but the cost per km is lower than almost any other way of getting around and the benefits are too many to list in just 240 characters" (www.twitter.com/colamnos)
While the environmental footprint of an e-bike is tiny and hence contributing to lowering carbon emissions it is important to state that this is only the beginning of the story. The list below, which is by no means definitive, outline some of the advantages that have become apparent to me. I'm sure there are many more, please feel free to add these in the comment section.
1. With an e-bike commuting to work is now an option for a significant proportion of workers, round trips of 30Km plus are very attainable. In my previous life I would occasionally take my road bike to work from my home in Coolbawn in Tipperary to Portumna in Galway, a distance of 22km. Without panniers on the bike the trip took a bit of planning as I needed to make sure I had everything I needed in work from the previous day. With panniers on the e-bike I would be more than happy to bring all I needed for the day ahead.
2. Cycling to work on a road bike usually requires having a change of clothes at the ready and having a shower on arrival. With the e-bike however there would be no need for this or to even wear special cycling gear due to less effort required for the commute.
3. Using the bike for shopping is now very much possible as the extra weight from the addition of panniers is not a major issue. It is suprising how much these panniers can carry.
4. The e-bike is an ideal means of allowing people who have perhaps given up cycling get back into the activity. Hills will not be an issue, lack of fitness need not be a deterrent as you can begin with a higher level of assist. Gradually decreasing the assist level will eventually increase your fitness levels. This, in my opinion, is a much underrated advantage of a pedal assist bike.
6. It is ideal for a couple to cycle together where one is a club cyclist and the other has not been on much in recent times. My wife and I would be a typical example and because of this we rarely cycle together. This year however we hope to do some trips where I use my road bike and my cycling partner will use the e-bike!
7. The e-bike is an ideal rehabilitation aid - someone returning from an injury or surgery can still enjoy the joys of cycling and remain in control of their own level of effort.
As someone with osteoarthritis and hip issues my physio has advised that cycling is the ideal activity in my case as there is no load on the affected joints. I now vary my cycling between the road bike - typically one spin per week while using the e-bike most days for more leisurely cycling.
8. As an avid nature/landscape photographer I can easily carry a decent amount of photographic equipment on my spins. Cycling along a country road tends to disturb wildlife less, hence providing more photo opportunities.
9. The social aspect of this type of cycling cannot be underestimated. When I go for a spin on my road bike, (full lycra, cycling shoes etc) I tend not to stop for a chat with a neighbour or to observe something of interest. On the e-bike I find it is a totally different mindset and I am more in tune with my surroundings and just "taking it all in".
10. Finally, and perhaps most important of all, the sheer fun, enjoyment and freedom from cycling at ease in the great outdoors.