The golden hour of cycling and e-biking for Eugene, Oregon

If this isn’t the golden age of biking in Eugene, we’re doing something very wrong.

Gasoline rose this summer at prices never seen before. Experts expect these prices to remain high for at least the next few years, as so much drilling has been halted during the COVID-19 downturns.

Ongoing pandemic concerns have caused many of us to seek exercise alternatives that don’t take us too far from home, but further than just walking around the block we could probably now do the eyes blinded. Inactivity related to COVID-19 sends a message to us: “Either exercise more or buy a new wardrobe. You can’t wear sweatpants every day.

Exercising outdoors is easier than ever, which is good news for us and bad news for the planet. Historic droughts caused by global warming leave us with fewer rainy days, while biking requires at least a little extra gear.

You’ve probably noticed that Eugene has been building infrastructure for cyclists at a breakneck pace. Protected Bike Lanes are the city’s newest additions, running along Amazon Parkway from the south and 13th Avenue from the west. Others are planned. As the city densifies, more of the population’s basic needs can be met in close proximity.

Add to all of this another potentially game-changing factor for many homes: electrification. Bicycles with electric pedal-assist motors have begun to outsell traditional bicycles in many areas. Eugene now owns several bike shops specializing in the sale and service of e-bikes.

Our local electricity company is currently encouraging its customers to consider this alternative. The Eugene Water and Power Board will pay you $300 to buy a new e-bike.

Natural gas companies and nuclear power plants have recently touted their services as “bridge technologies” that can get us to a sustainable power grid with fewer disruptions and delays. Adding e-bikes to your household’s transportation options is like personal bridge technology – a way to meet your immediate needs until electric vehicles become more affordable and available.

It is becoming clear that our best future will be more electrified. This future has already arrived on the cycle paths all around the region.

Whenever there is a sudden influx of new users, frustrations grow around a lack of decorum or respect. It’s a real concern, but it’s likely to be temporary. New users will learn the rules. Older users will adapt to a wider range of variables.

Don’t wait for government regulations to catch up with you. As long as a bike has usable pedals and no putt-putts from a gas engine, a rider can always insist that he wasn’t using his motor where a motor isn’t allowed.

Each cyclist removes an automobile from the street or a video controller from the seat. Whether they’re racing bikes or having fun, they’re helping to build, however awkwardly, a healthier future for all.

Photographers talk about the Golden Hour. It starts a little before sunset, when the light outside is about the same as inside a building. With each passing minute, the glow from within seems more inviting as the sky darkens. It’s the golden hour of cycling.

Don Kahle ([email protected]) writes a column every Wednesday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at www.dksez.com.

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