New Viewpoint on Electric Bikes

May 10, 2016

Posted in: Uncategorized

Yesterday I was given the opportunity to obtain a new viewpoint on electric bikes. On Wednesday I was mountain biking on my favorite metro area trail, Elm Creek, and while riding one of the log skinnies it crumbled under my front tire. As happens when your front tire falls out from you and stops immediately I was summarily catapulted into the ground. After a few moments of deciding if I was alive or not I discovered that I was battered and bruised but whole. Yesterday I felt even more beat up and was trying to decide how to get to work since riding did not look to be a feasible option. I was contemplating the bus which seemed sad on such a beautiful day or driving which always is the wrong way to get from Uptown to Dinkytown when I realized I could use an electric bike. I had a speedy, fun 7 mile ride to the store in a light rain shower on the Midtown Greenway.

That day at work I sold a BionX electric bike system to a gentleman named Bill. The electric kit was for his wife who has a health problem that makes her energy level lower than normal and thus easily fatigued. She really enjoys biking and has always done it for recreation and errands but her health has eliminated biking from her life. By putting an electric kit on her bike she would be able to continue biking, get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors. A common misconception is that you do not get any exercise on an electric bike. You certainly wont get quite as much as you might on a standard bike, but most still require pedaling and the balance to stay on two wheels demands agility and some strength. We have sold many electric bikes to people who have health issues but yesterday’s personal experience really drove home the benefits for me.

On my ride home I was enjoying a perfect spring evening and feeling rather positive about owning a business which can sometimes actually help people. I was on the greenway and for the first time not worried about the persistent west headwind passing some people and getting passed by others on their road bikes, when another biker passing by called me a “cheater”. This has happened to me before and I have heard tell of it from others who ride electric bikes. Usually, I just ignore those comments and continue enjoying myself despite others need to criticize. This time however, it really made me think, because if I had not been riding an electric bike I could have been just another person alone in a car adding to the congestion, pollution and general downfall of nature as we know it. Why does my riding an electric bike have to interfere with others enjoyment of their ride? Most importantly, I will get better and start riding my traditional bike in a matter of days but what about Bill’s wife. She will have to deal with that ridiculous attitude quite possibly every time she rides her electric bike.

I have always thought of biking as a very equal and stress releasing activity. I would be a travesty for everyone not to get the same benefits from it. We have been down this road before with other conflicts, cars vs horses in the early 1900’s, horses vs mountain bikes and snowboards vs skiers to name a couple. Change is a constant, and necessary aspect of how we deal with integrating the benefits of new technology and mitigating the negative impacts of health and age. Innovation is one of the most important means of keeping our society defined as modern. I would hope that people can take a moment to consider other people’s circumstances before passing judgement.