Why Electric Matters – Go By Bike Episode 51

When I read comments on articles and such that are published about electric bikes, there are almost always one or two people who are extremely negative on the idea. They are often defensive of their road or bike path “turf” and seem personally offended that people would choose an electric bike. I even saw a post recently on a road bike forum, where the apparent roadie personally attacked some poor guy who happened to be riding an ebike slowly in the bike lane, apparently blocking said roadie’s progress and forcing him to go around.

Really – are these kinds of things necessary? We’re all riding bikes people, and that should be a good thing whether the bike is a road bike, mountain bike, cruiser, ancient falling apart bike, electric bike or whatever. If you’re a biker and offended by someone else riding a bike, doesn’t that strike you as a bit hypocritical?

I think that in many cases, these people are actually offended because they view biking as a physical challenge and take pride in being able to be up to the challenge. I think it’s awesome that people ride bikes for physical exercise, I mean, we could obviously use more physical exercise in our culture. And many of those people are in far better physical shape than I am – an accomplishment for sure.

But there are more uses for the bike than just a physical workout, and can we please get over that attitude?

Today, when I was riding my electric cargo bike, bucket full of kids, over my 6 mile hilly commute, my battery gave out (apparently because I forgot to charge it fully – oops). After finishing the commute sans batttery, here were my comments:

It’s not that this kind of bike ridding cannot be done without assistance (many, many people do it), it’s just that having a little help makes it easy, so I don’t have to be up for a huge workout every morning when I just want to get the kids to school and get myself to work. That’s when most people take the car – and if you drive, you get zero exercise (not to mention, you burn a bunch of fossil fuels and create a bunch of pollution).

If I had to do the huge workout every morning, I would think twice about it every morning, and many of those times I’d decide I was too tired, in too much of a hurry, or just plain feeling lazy that day. Adding the assist makes riding a no-brainer and easy to make into a habit. I really think of this bike more akin to a highly efficient, lightweight electric vehicle, which technically it is. It’s just an EV that you can also pedal.

So, if you’re one of those people that is somehow offended by ebikes, please reconsider the bigger picture here. Would you rather have that slow person in the bike lane be driving a car that’s passing you and polluting the air you are breathing? Or is there room for another biker on the road, even if they aren’t in it for the exercise?

In pursuit of a more congenial world…..


Go By Bike is a daily video series that talks about how to be green by riding more and using your car less, including electric bikes, electric kits, cargo bikes, bike safety, and getting motivated to bike

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5 thoughts

  1. Hi Elise,
    I get that attitude from people often. Instead of seeing the eYuba as a car replacement, I think it’s seen as laziness or just the easy way out. But, I don’t get this attitude from people if I drive my car. People really don’t get it. I was able to do a 14+ round trip commute to pick up a bulk food order in the rain with the eYuba. Some of the people at the pick up were quite threatened by the bike. I had the comment “that’s a lot of pedaling, or motoring”. As if… I don’t understand that attitude.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Because of school districts, my family had to live further into the burbs than I would have liked to for my bike commute. Until I converted my bike to electric, it really wasn’t feasible…over an hour each way and fairly hilly and trafficky to boot.

    The electric assist solves all three problems. The trip takes 45 minutes instead of an hour, the hills aren’t gruesome, and I can keep up with traffic in congested situations instead of having cars pass me at a dangerously close margin. Plus I am refreshed from the exercise and not wasted. I pedal the whole way, at a reasonable cadence, just not grunting. The bike cruises effortlessly at 25 mph, which is legal in my state of Missouri.

    Just as an experiment, yesterday I did the commute on a non-motorized bike. I certainly could “do it” but it wasn’t nearly as much fun. It felt far less safe, I got home ravishingly hungry and was sort of out of sorts the rest of the day. In short, a stressful experience. Not something I can do four times a week!

    I also use the eBike to pull a sidecar or a trailerbike. For those uses it’s practically a necessity, unless you live in a totally flat area. My seven year old loves it…we no longer grind to a halt on the hills. I can take her to school in the morning on the bike. That always gets some cheers!

    Electric bikes rock, and I hope more people start to realize it. Spread the word! Thanks for your work and your store and website.

  3. I remember the movie, Conan the Barbarian were he literally grew up pushing that heavy wooden wheel around in a circle. This was replicated in Sparticus, where men chained to the oars powered the ships through all those speeds like battle speed and ramming speed. Was that drummer guy the first shifter? I think it was in the Good, Bad and the Ugly where the evil Mexican boss man had peasants chained to a generator to power his lights and he shot at them when the lights dimmed because they slacked off. As a Mechanical Engineer, I exist to prevent humankind from enduring those conditions, and I don’t want to endure those conditions myself. My ebike motto is: Ride the Machine, Don’t Be the Machine.
    All that being said, I absolutely respect and admire fast road bikers with the spandex and all, and if they want to make fun of me then so be it. My option is to drive my car. But the e-bike is just great. I get to be outside, I get enjoyable non-painful exercise that is not painful, and I just love the endless tinkering.

  4. The best thing that ever happened was the tecnology to give us lightweight, efficient, very useable electric bikes of all types!! I have 2 very comfortable electric recumbent bikes that I use for 95% of all my trips. My car gets great gas mileage sitting in the driveway (and 42 MPG when I do)!! A tank of gas lasts over 2 months. I am part of the Conscious Living Expo in Norman OK. next week, and I am doing a display of the bicycles (electric & cargo) as an alternative to cars.

  5. One thing I forgot to mention in the above post is that as far as energy is concerned, electric drive is a lot more efficient than the human body. This is because the human body is about 25% efficient, and for every calorie of food that we eat, it takes about 7 calories of energy to produce and transport it!(eat local produced food anyone). Talk about inefficiency!!! Also when you are going somewhere where you don’t want to be all sweaty and stinky, but still want to use the bike, you can’t beat electric drive!

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