This summer, I enthusiastically joined the ranks of parents who transport their children to daycare and elsewhere via electric bicycle.
Why is this important: The e-bike is exploding in popularity – with notable adoption in urban areas like Washington, DC, where I live.
- It’s an attractive option for those who like to ride a bike but don’t want to constantly sweat in the hills, or for people who need an alternate mode of transportation but can’t afford or don’t want to. another vehicle.
- For me, a 20 minute walk to daycare turned into a 5 minute bike ride. I am less in the car, parking is a breeze and it gives me joy to navigate with my child.
- Plus, maybe I’m doing my bit for the environment and saving money on gas.
The backstory: My conversion to an electric bike has begun right after my daughter was 1 and big enough to sit on the back of a bike. I’ve always loved using rental e-bikes to get around DC, and I was starting to resent having to get in my car to go somewhere with Clara that was too far to walk.
- We bought the 2020 Tern HSD from a friend – a mid-size cargo bike – when he upgraded to a larger model to hold his two daughters.
- We added a Yepp child seat and a front rack for storage.
- And we learned how to change gears, navigate between power assist levels and charge the battery.
Technically, our bike is an e-bike, or electrically assisted pedaling cycle (EAPC). It has an electric motor that only engages when the cyclist pedals.
- Although this is the type you see most often on the street, other e-bikes are throttle controlled and do not require pedalling.
The big picture: US cities are testing different e-bike incentives and programs, and bike advocates are urging municipalities to add bike lanes. As Jennifer A. Kingson of Axios reported, e-bike sales increased 240% in the 12 months ending July 2021, compared to 2019.
My husband, Eli Glazier, who is a transportation planner in Montgomery County, Maryland, said he and his colleagues are implementing plans to help make cycling a viable way to get around for people of all ages and abilities: “E-bikes are a fantastic tool for doing that. We’re seeing them more and more all over the county.”
Road test: For me, using the eBike feels like riding a bike that is slightly heavier than average, but with a boost to climb without too much effort – and extra speed on flat roads.
- The speed assist kicks in at 20mph, so it’s hard to feel out of control.
- I am aware that riding a bike for public transit can be dangerous, and I am very careful of cars and use hand signals to turn.
Ask the expert: Clara hates having her helmet put on, but once we get started, she claps and smiles, taking in the scenery. (She declined to comment on her experience.)
- We took Clara to daycare, a doctor’s appointment, a cafe and a restaurant via e-bike, with smooth experiences every time. And parking is free!