Electric bike instead of drive

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An electric bike is a game changer for bike commuting. The motor assist makes it easy to travel fast, climb hills, and haul heavy loads (including children!) without breaking a sweat (literally). You do not have to be in amazing shape to get around on an electric bike. They are also fun to ride! Studies show that people ride their bike more when it is electric since the motor assistance makes riding easier.

At the end of the day, just plug your electric bike into a normal wall socket, and you will be good to go with a full charge for the next day. For local trips, it is possible for an electric bike to entirely replace a car, especially if it is a cargo bike that can carry passengers, groceries, and other loads.

Surprisingly, for many people, adding an electric motor to a bike makes biking less carbon intensive. The conversion of energy consumed by humans as food into powering a bike is ~25% (the efficiency of human metabolism), while that of an electric motor is ~80%. This motor assistance is meaningful since our food system is currently very energy intensive. The typical person will reduce their per-mile emissions by ~45% on an electric bike relative to a regular bike. Both types of biking, of course, emit much less carbon than driving a gas car.

E-biking is also better than driving an electric car. A meat eater will reduce per-mile emissions by ~40% on an electric bike compared to an electric car, while the reduction increases to ~70% for a vegetarian. If electricity comes from a renewable source, then emissions reductions from riding an electric bike are even greater.

An electric bike can be a big money saver as well. There is an upfront cost associated with buying an electric bike, but this is paid back quickly (often in months) by replacing or reducing car use (e.g., parking, gas, operation and maintenance costs).


• Before buying a bike, decide what your needs are and focus on the bikes that address those needs. There are bikes for single riders, bikes for single riders with the occasional passenger or load, cargo bikes that can carry up to 250 pounds of additional people or cargo, and more. There are motors that are best for hills and batteries with different capacities. Be sure to test ride lots of bikes before committing.

• If you are a parent that needs to transport children, electric cargo bikes are an outstanding option. Many can haul up to 250 pounds of cargo (i.e. kids) beyond the weight of the rider. The kids love the experience.

• If you live somewhere with bad weather, be sure to pack appropriate weather gear (i.e., rain gear, winter coats, gloves, etc.) for yourself and the kids. Everyone will be more happy during the journey!

• Transitioning to riding a bike can feel overwhelming at first. Try replacing a few regular car trips with the bike at first.

• Spend time researching routes that will minimize exposure to traffic. Map apps suggests bike routes, but it is good to confirm the suggested route with other sources of information, such as local bike maps, if possible. After a while, the best bike routes through your city or town will become ingrained knowledge.

• Get a bike mounts for your smart phone, which helps with navigation in new areas.

• Take safety precautions. Wear a helmet and insist that your passengers wear helmets. Make sure you have lights (front and back) for biking as it gets dark. Many electric bikes have built in lights, which is a plus.

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