Electric bikes generate both personal and global benefits. And the benefits are multiplied when other household members use your electric bike.
Riding a bike, even an electric one, is about waving to your neighbors, talking to people at crosswalks, enjoying your own power, coasting down the hill with a bit of wind in your hair, paying attention to the cracks in the road, sticking your tongue out to taste the spring rain, always being able to find a parking place, feeling like a kid. It's a part of what the new culture is about -- enjoying the moments of life, the getting there as much as the being there, the effort as much as the reward, wholeness as much as efficiency, muscle power as much as turbo power, your community as much as your solace.
The economic benefits of electric bicycles are better, in terms of quick payback, than insulating your home. Substituting e-bike trips for car trips saves on purchase price, insurance, and registration fees. Beyond the purchase price, cars cost about $0.10 per mile in fuel and parts. Some families will use an electric bike to augment their car use, while others will find tremendous savings by living with one less car. For some folks, there's no comparison because they don't have a license to drive - and don't need one for an electric bike.
The environmental benefits include reduced pollution (CO2, NOX, tire and brake lining fragments) and reduced resource consumption (less material, fuel, and infrastructure). Reduced CO2 emissions is most important because scientific opinion is close to unanimous that global warming is already happening. The average car emits one pound of CO2 for every mile driven.
Electric bicycles also allow you to reduce your risk of living in a technology-dependent culture. Automobiles and buses may be stalled by oil embargoes, fallen bridges, and mega-traffic jams. An electric bike, a vehicle light enough to carry short distances over or around obstacles, is nearly immune. At the personal level, an e-bike owner is free of license, registration, and insurance requirements. We also provide a reality check on the "bicycling around cars is dangerous" myth.
E-bikes support a simple lifestyle. They're easy to use; just flip a switch to get a gentle, but firm, push. They save time in two ways: 1) For errands up to a mile and on some congested commutes, e-bikes are quicker than the car; 2) Their low cost means you work fewer hours supporting them. The pace of life slows a bit while riding an electric bike. Stress goes down, enjoyment of life goes up. Fun happens!
Your health and fitness will likely improve. How can that be with a motor on your bike? Because you will actually be riding that bike more often. It's more fun! Traffic snarls aren't frustrating and stressful. In fact, the worse the jam, the more gratifying the ride. It doesn't just feel like you're "beating the system". In many ways, you are! Despite our culture's belief that bicycling is dangerous, remember that heart disease is almost 1,000 times more dangerous.
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