Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep; but we shall all be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51)
When e-bikes started showing up on the streets of Vancouver, I was aghast. I believed @colvilleandersn when he said that e-bike users were cheating. I had been a proud traditional cyclist ever since selling my last car in 1996.
But as I got older, and my knees started to ache, and I moved to an apartment above the longest hill in town, I found myself declining social invitations. I dreaded the climb home on hot summer afternoons. I started skipping the gym because it was too much of a hassle to get there. My carshare and transit bills shot through the roof. I stayed home a lot.
Then, one evening this summer, my precious commuter bike was stolen from outside the YMCA. Despondent, I searched for it over several weeks. A friend tried to cheer me up by sending me links to a big sale at a local e-bike store. I scoffed at her. I was a real cyclist! But when it looked like my insurance claim was coming through, I buckled and took an electric bike for a test ride. The RadCity 4 was a heavy beast, but when I steered it up the hill that had long been making me miserable and I pulled the throttle, well, we flew. Ten blocks later I was sold.
My e-bike has changed my life, by which I mean it has altered the composition of most of my days, and the colour of my mood. It has given me the keys to my city again, because everything feels closer. Take my weekly 8 km journey to see my son and his moms. What was once a sweaty, half-hour slog, or an irritating hour on transit, or an expensive car-share jaunt, is now a fun, 18-minute cruise.
My journeys now cost a few cents each, and they are drenched in joy. I accept social invitations from across town again. I shop for groceries by bike again. I ride for pleasure again. I’m getting more exercise than I did when I had my old commuter bike, because I cycle more often and farther. I feel freer than I have in years. Freedom, that’s the best part. I get to choose if I want a mad workout or a cushy cruise or something in between.
Every single e-bike owner I know tells me they feel the same way. The hipsters, the super jocks and the bike purists may deride us. But we are changed. We are free. We are happy.