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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Replacing your second car with an electric bike

Five reasons why you should ditch and switch

By Tara Gould

You’ve got two cars in your drive way and you’re starting to feel uncomfortable about it.  You are a green minded kind of person, you recycle,  you turn off the lights,  you shop with an eye on fair trading, green credentials and sustainability. You are more than aware of what cars are doing to the environment…but still, those two cars are there on your drive way.  Is it really necessary? One car you use for work, for long journeys, for family holidays. The other is simply a run-a-round.  You use it to get the shopping, to pick up the kids, for local journeys.  It’s nippy, convenient and cheap to run and tax.  Well, here are five very good reasons why it’s time to consider cashing in the second motor and spending the money on a quality, energy efficient e-bike:

1.     It’s the greenest non-human powered machine on our streets.  Even factoring in CO2 emissions produced to generate the electricity needed to charge an e-bike you’re looking at 2.6 grams of CO2 per mile.  Compared to 150 grams for an electric car and 136 grams a scooter (conventional cars are so off the scale and not remotely green I’m not even going to bother to compare them), this is bound to make you look, and feel most virtuous.  

2.     Then there’s how cheap they are to run. A two hour charge with a range of around 40 miles will cost you a paltry 2p – if you do the maths the yearly savings are substantial, in both petrol and public transport costs.  You don’t need to pay for tax, or insurance and you don’t need a license. Even your 14 year old can use, that will give him something to think about if he starts complaining about not getting lifts here, there and everywhere from you!

3.     You’ll find yourself getting fit without even noticing.  With the option to access electric assistance up hills or when you’re tired,  there’ll be no need for over exertion.  E-bikes have the handling and balance and feel of a conventional bike when you do want to pedal and exercise your heart, lungs and legs.  You can do as little or as much exercise as you choose, without being forced to pant, red faced up the hill on the way home with heavy bags of shopping. Both smaller kids and shopping bags can be loaded onto the bike, without compromising the power of the motor, so you can glide home with dignity and ease.

4.     You never know, you might actually enjoy it.  Cycling is a lot of fun; fresh air, exercise, the sense of freedom and movement. The new electric bikes are no longer clunky, lumbering things which are near impossible to ride without the motor, but stream lined and deluxe and really very cool.  There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as speeding downhill with the wind in your face, especially knowing you won’t have to struggle up the other side.

5.     And not just for Christmas.  A decent electric bike is very versatile and should last you a very long time. Plus there’s always the option to upgrade and install a newer motor as the technology develops.  You can use your e-bike for cycling holidays, and day trips, and take it on the train, and with the light weight, foldable options available, you could even take it on buses and planes.

Tara Gould is a freelance writer who supports green technology, green energy and all things eco and ethical

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Energy & Environment Dates 2012