Enabling change in our Society, Environment and Economy (SEE)

Other car is electric bike

‘My other car is an electric bike’

Our experiences on electric bikes by Michael Conlin

I remember my first bike, growing up as a kid. It introduced the concepts of freedom and independence. I loved my bike, and my respect for it continued well into my teen years — it got me to where I needed to go, and on my own terms. Inevitably, as boys do, I grew up, and before long I was the proud young owner of a driver’s licence, which sadly was also the last day I rode my bike, for almost 10 years.

From time to time, I would consider dusting off the old pushy and re-acquaint myself with it, but before I could locate where I had stored my helmet, the whole thought reeked of effort and I would swiftly abandon the idea. Getting back on the bike after so long seemed just too hard.

Then one day last year I found myself browsing the exhibitors at a local community fair, when I saw a vendor advertising a range of electric pushbikes. I was overwhelmed with curiosity and I just had to have a go! After zipping up and down the bike path I was hooked. Wow, this was fun! I signed my wife (Mel) and I up for a free weekend trial, and once our turn came around after a few weeks we picked up our loan bikes and set off home.

melbikeMel was a little sceptical about the idea, but a twist of the throttle later and she needed no more convincing! We hadn’t ridden more than 10 metres when between screams of laughter she was shouting ‘Mikey I want one!’

We spent nearly the whole weekend on the bikes. We cycled to the farmers’ markets, to the shops, to the city, around the lake, and did a ‘dry run’ of the 25 km round trip to work. That sold me; this was not just fun, but extremely practical. The commute took less time than I would normally spend driving in peak traffic, I could have easily repeated the trip as I was far from exhausted, and not a bead of sweat had formed on my brow.

I proceeded to rationalise my thoughts. This really was a practical alternative to the car, which also offered a chance to get some moderate exercise, fresh air, and lower my carbon footprint.

Shortly after our trial we were the proud owners of two new electric bikes and nearly nine months later we still use them all the time. I easily achieve over 40 kms a trip between charging with only some moderate peddling assistance, which helps me get a little exercise at the same time.

As we subscribe to Greenpower through our electricity supplier, my commute is powered by 100% renewable wind energy and costs less than 5 cents for a return trip to work. No rego, no parking, no emissions, no sweat.

bikeportraitOnce again my bike represents freedom and independence. How amazed I am to have come full circle and feel this same way as an adult. In contradiction to the promises of the automobile, the very last thoughts on my mind were of freedom and independence as I stood by the petrol bowser when last filling up the car.

Our bikes were purchased through Switched on Cycles, a Canberra based importer of E-bikes which I can happily recommend after experiencing first hand their helpfulness, advice and commitment to after-sales service.

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