As a cyclist, what are your thoughts about e bikes

Short version:

I used to hate bicycling, but now I understand that if we can get more people out of their cars and onto bicycles, that would be a great thing. And if it gives older cyclists more freedom, that’s an added bonus.

Long version:

My first thought was that it was cheating. I don’t race, so I don’t know what I’m cheating about, but I definitely resented the whole concept.

This initial skepticism was reinforced when I went out riding and as I struggled to pass some rather “covered” riders on sit-up-and-veg style bikes, I noticed that they were using electronic assistance.

I was in my 40s and trying to stay fit, and I was struggling to pass a small fat couple in their 50s who looked like they had barely pedaled. How dare those people ……!

I felt cheated out of my rewards for my efforts.

But, to be fair, someone said, “Wow, you’re good at that,” as I walked by.

That may have been the catalyst for my conversion.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of buying an e bike. I plan to pedal as long as I have breath. But it got me thinking.

They weren’t feeling superior because a guy 10 years younger and 20 pounds lighter was struggling to match their pace. They should have known full well that they were not “proper” cyclists, yet they were riding 10 miles out of town on a beautiful countryside slope without a car.

The wheels began to turn a little bit, not only on the bike, but also in my heart.

The next step in my change was with my wife. My wife used to love to ride her bike for transportation and fun, but with child-rearing, work, and moving to a house on a big hill, she no longer had the pleasure of running behind me. I felt like I was barely running and didn’t really enjoy running with her.

Then one morning, on her way to work, she got hit by a car (fortunately, it was only a small bruise) and, having lost confidence, she stopped riding altogether for a few years.

So when she said, “I think I’ll get an e bike,” I started thinking more about it. If it gives her the confidence to ride a bike again, is that a bad thing or a good thing? If it would allow us to ride together and we could both enjoy it, would that be a bad thing or a good thing?

It got me thinking further. I commute to work through a small but crowded city. Many people I know would like to ride more, but say, “There are too many hills around here. I wonder how many of the cars I pass in the morning and evening are drivers who would ride bicycles if they didn’t have to deal with hills?

And how much healthier would they be if they rode bicycles, even with e-assist?

How much nicer would our cities be with fewer cars and more bicycles? We have public health promotions, high parking fees, higher fuel taxes, and London imposing fees on car use of certain parts of the city. Yet we are still drowning in cars and pollution.

So now I’m all for it. Ditch the car and buy an e bike.

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