Suburban Chronicles: Avid cyclist does his part with electric bike purchase Leave a comment

So you know those people who have bumper stickers that say “my other car is a bike” and act all self-righteous about the fact that they are being environmentally conscious, even though they are giant hypocrites in several other aspects of their lives?  

Oh yeah, I am definitely one of those people.

Last summer, we went from a two-car household to a one-car family courtesy of my daughter’s penchant for destroying vehicles (it was her second.) Everyone was fine but the automobile — a small, reliable Japanese-made hatchback — was a writeoff. I was sad to see it go.

It left our family of four (plus a permanent house guest) with just one car, a situation that has been completely manageable during the pandemic when we aren’t going anywhere beyond a weekly grocery pickup and frequent trips to the LCBO. Working from home, my daily commute is the 12 steps from my kitchen to my office off the living room.

But maybe, just maybe, this whole pandemic thing isn’t going to last forever and I will, one day, return to a semblance of my old life. But there are some elements about The Before Times that I’m not all that keen to return to.

Driving everywhere is one of them. I commuted 45 minutes each way for almost 15 years in my last job and felt increasingly guilty about the environmental impacts of that decision (not to mention the cost and time wasted listening to terrible AM radio.) Surely, there was another way to do it.

One career change and a car crash later and the answer revealed itself: a fancy new electric bike.

As an avid cyclist, I was aware of the e-bike trend but had dismissed it as an expensive replacement for actually being in shape and riding a real bike. But I also know that I’m sometimes (OK, often) lazy and wouldn’t want to ride everywhere, every day and a little help would go a long way.

My new e-bike has a 500w motor that tops out at 32 km/h, plenty of storage and rack space as well as the ability to pull a trailer big enough for a small grocery run (or a big LCBO one, more importantly.) It still feels like cycling, sort of, but without all the sweating and cursing while trying to go up big hills. It was pricey by bike standards but far cheaper than any car I’ve ever purchased.

Will it replace a second auto for good? Hard to say. So far, it’s been great but this is the easy time and while I ride my bike through the winter for fun, that’s different than facing a succession of dark, windy and cold commutes.

And my environmental consciousness only extends so far. I’m still ordering way too much disposable garbage from online retailers, I’m eating more beef than is sustainable and I’ve yet to install solar panels on the roof of my house. And sometimes I still drive when I could walk or take the bike. Still, replacing our second car with an e-bike feels like a good first step and I’m determined to make it work.

Now I just need the bumper sticker.



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