We were honoured last weekend to be one of the numerous speakers at the Greater Nanaimo Cycling Coalition Annual General Meeting, also known as the Nanaimo Bike Summit. We learned a lot. What amazing work this organization is doing! Check out their website to learn about the many ways they are supporting cycling in the Nanaimo area and how you can take part in the fun and the work! I was so impressed I joined the board, so you’ll be hearing lots more about them in the future.
This is essentially what I spoke about in support of ebike riders as an important part of the cycling community:
Thank you to the Coalition and Leo Boon for inviting me here. One of the great joys in my life is riding my bike. After a long time of pestering my parents for a bike, my beautiful blue CCM came for my ninth birthday. What joy, what freedom! I could go anywhere, as fast as I possibly could. On my 59th birthday, I consciously celebrated 50 years of bicycling, realizing that no other one thing had provided such consistent, long lasting pleasure in my whole life. Jumping on my bike still gives me that rush – of freedom and joy. However, I mourned that I didn’t do that as often as I’d like. The spectre of hills and distance looming larger and more intimidating than they had. Now I have a confession here. I’ve never liked riding up hills. I’ve managed and been proud of the accomplishment, but fun, not so much. More recently, thoughts of the longer, steeper ones cause me to jump in the car rather than my bike. My electric bike has brought back that sense of freedom, movement and joy.
You all know that thrill of getting on a bike and riding away. They say that the most efficient transportation ever is a human on a bike.
So how do electric bikes enhance the cycling culture? By increasing the number of people who ride. The more people on bicycles, the fewer in cars and the more car drivers who understand what it is to be on a bicycle sharing the road with cars. The more cyclists there are, the more pressure will be brought to bear for money and political will for bike infrastructure, which will, in turn support more cyclists. It’s a winning cycle!
Riding an electric bike will extend the range of everyone no matter how far they ride right now. People who used to ride and don’t for a variety of reasons, such as old injuries, sore backs and knees, just too far and don’t know if I can get there and back, heart, lung stress that requires more regulated exercise than regular cycling allows.
We hear from lots of folks that have lovely bikes stored in the garage, because of the gigantic hill between here and there. A couple of people who had recently moved from Saskatchewan came in with tears in their eyes because they had ridden their bikes everywhere back home and couldn’t believe the terrain here. Electric bikes to the rescue!
We find that our major competitors are the couch and the car, rather than standard bikes.
Many people we see are either not riding very much or at all any more and are losing hope that they’ll ever ride happily again.
We all have a good idea of the health of benefits of cycling, but we’ve noticed that the use of an electric bike can support people in illness and injury recovery and management. We don’t want to make medical claims, but the ability to determine sweet spot of the level of exertion at every moment allows healing to happen while gradually increasing exercise levels. We’ve heard reports of weight loss, reduction of blood sugar levels, increased breath, improved joint flexibility and strength, among others.
Electric bikes level the playing field so that friends can ride with friends, partners can keep up and families can ride together, without compromising the fun of anyone.
The same rules apply to electric bikes as standard bikes, so they can go anywhere that bicycles can. They are regulated to not exceed 32 km per hour on motor alone, and we know that lots of roadies can beat that with no problem, so their speed isn’t a concern in sharing the path.
The biggest green benefit of an electric bike is the extent it replaces a car in people’s everyday lives. We have customers that have reported not getting in their cars for months, and a few have even gotten rid of their cars in favour of their electric bikes.
No insurance or licensing, or fuel costs, compared to cars, make them an affordable transportation alternative for most short trips.
Congratulations to the Nanaimo bike coalition for collaborating with other groups and local governments in the development of bicycle infrastructure in and around Nanaimo. Mayor Bill McKay was inspirational in describing the virtues of bicycles enhancing livable cities. We’re excited to see how the future of cycling on eastern Vancouver Island develops.