Commuting By Ebike: What I Learned
For the past three months, I have been commuting to work on my ebike every day. With my trusty RadMini, I conquer Seattle's notorious hills and ride confidently through its urban landscape.
Going from driving every day, and parking blocks away, to becoming a first-time bike commuter, was cause for a crash course in, well, not crashing ... amongst other things. In celebration of National Bike Month this May, I wanted to share what I learned to show that you too can make the shift to biking to work.
It's as fast as driving.
For me, anyway. If you live 20 highway miles from work, then yes, a car will be faster. But it takes me the same amount of time to commute by ebike (24 minutes to get to work on my ebike and no time to park) as it does by car (22 minutes and another 1-10 to park, depending on how lucky I get). On an ebike, I can utilize bike paths and skip traffic. When I arrive to work, I don't have to search for parking. Win-win.
It's less expensive than driving.
Servicing a bicycle is typically much cheaper than servicing a car. In my first 90 days of bike commuting, I put 650 miles on my ebike and tuned my brakes twice, for a total of $34. This is almost exactly what I would spend on gas each week, or more than $400 in three months (plus a $60 oil change). My colleague did a cost comparison of ebiking versus driving, and has since saved thousands of dollars.
Lunch hour = happy hour.
I have so much freedom during my lunch break! I can zip a few blocks away to a variety of restaurants, or grab food and get back to the office with plenty of time to eat. Sometimes I pick up group lunches, and I'm my coworkers' biggest fan. I am not limited by distance or time, and the fresh air gives me a boost for the rest of the day.
Layers, for the win.
It can be surprisingly cold in the mornings, and the weather can change quickly in the evenings. I have learned to keep a few different pieces of gear with me so that what should be a fun 5-mile ride doesn't turn into a daunting escapade with no end in sight. I keep a warm pair of gloves, a light pair of gloves, a hat, and rain pants with me at all times. This keeps every ride comfortable and achievable, so you don't have to abort mission and hop a bus to get where you need to be.
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
I have gotten to know the neighborhoods in Seattle better than I ever would have in a car. Having the ability to turn around easily and quickly on any street, park virtually anywhere, and get lost at will has made every ride an adventure. Since starting my ebike journey, I have discovered new restaurants, parks, and other great neighborhood finds. Even though I grew up in Seattle and think I know the place, there are still so many hidden gems to uncover, and they're all the more accessible via ebike.
Since starting bike commuting, I find that I ride more, in general. On my weekend rides, I take 10-15 mile trips to just explore. If you're thinking about biking to work, give it a test go on the weekend first. Try different routes to find the best way to get to work without having to worry about being late. When you feel like you have your route, gear, and timing dialed, sit back, enjoy the views, and think about how great it feels to be on the other side of the glass.