Driving Less and Enjoying It More
Car versus Bike: What constitutes 'realistic' and 'practical'?
When it comes to transportation in the U.S. the bicycle is rarely considered a serious option while in the highly developed countries of Europe, Japan et al (as well as in a small number of U.S. communities of course) the bicycle is used to get around by a fair percentage of 'mainstream' individuals. When factual information about such widespread, actual use is brought in to the U.S. 'debate' it is usually impatiently dismissed.
Those who bring up such facts are often chastised for not being 'realistic and 'practical'. There may be some 900 million cars and light trucks (of which the U.S., with about 4% of the world's population, may own a staggering about one third) in the world today. Ought not the glaring concern rather be whether all these vehicles (with more being rapidly added) constitute a 'realistic' and 'practical' manner in which to transport ourselves, taking care of the planet with its dwindling resources, and being considerate of future generations?
Even those dismissive of the bicycle's role in transportation may concede that the lowly bicycle is affordable, uniquely efficient, needing only minimal maintenance and space, is benign to the environment, promotes health and fitness, does not require foreign wars to fuel it—although these days, who can be sure?—etc. Those of us who ride bikes regularly would add: above all profoundly enjoyable to ride.
Yeah but, I still just won't ride
If a person is convinced that wearing a bike helmet flattens hairdos beyond What Fashion Dictates, that bicycling suggests Financial Failure, that all travel must be undertaken in a Glass & Metal Bubble (preferably of 25+ times the weight and 1,000+ times the power of the driver), and moving around must be done at an unsustainable expense to individual and public health and energy use—then presumably the matter shall rest (although not too comfortably one should hope) there. The same bicycle that remains treasured by numerous Americans for recreation shall thus remain jilted for errands and transportation—even for short distances, on easy terrain, in good weather and with light loads.
I'll be glad to ride—if only
But what if, on the other hand, we are reluctant to bicycle simply because we find hills too taxing, that perspiration is not acceptable for arriving to certain appointments, that we cannot seem to stick to biking or we assume that with age biking cannot possibly be as joyous as it was when we were children or young adults?
In such events, here's great news:
unrelenting din of powered metal pushing through air
filling our nostrils with what tail pipes are spewing
rubber on pavement, muffled combustion, horns blare
distraction ever mounting, impatience ever brewing
The electric bike lets us decide instantaneously whether we want to pedal hard or lightly—or anywhere on a continuum in between—or not at all, i.e. whether to get a workout or arrive at our destination rested, crisp and presentable—or both. The lightness of youth and childhood are put back into biking when we partner with a small, quiet, strong, loyal and interactive electric motor.
Wind in face
A cyclist among ‘metal boxes on rubber’
predatorily sleek or overreach blubber:
As so in love head over heels
with their crisply gleaming
well appointed ‘caves on wheels’
why aren’t drivers beaming?
On cushy seat behind windshield
might driving perhaps be,
in climate control congealed,
akin to watching tv:
Like sealed off, stale behind chromed grill
No wind in face, crisp morning chill
Copyright © 2013 Eric Sundin
Even in today's automobile society there are actually millions of us who are recreational cyclists. The advent of the electric bike has made it even more enjoyable to go riding, to do so regularly and on expanded routes.
We treasure the elation and practicality that 'human power augmentation', i.e. the unique blending of human and electric power bestows. "A deeply satisfying experience awaits you," (or variations hereof) say our numerous customers. Find out for yourself. Come in for a test ride!