E-bikes and hybrids — a personal journey

As part of our resolution this year to park the car more often, my wife and I are shopping locally more often. Walking has been a key part of our regimen.   The exercise hasn’t hurt my waistline either.

At Christmas I bought my wife one of those newfangled license free E-bikes expecting exclamations of joy, but was faced instead with a puzzled look.  This gift was not as altruistic as it seemed, as my partial goal was to get my wife out cycling with me again.   Many years ago she refused to cycle with me as I tended to be a bit of a speed demon leaving her far behind.  Hardly the social event our rides were meant to be. I looked at the E-bike as an equalizer of sorts to allow Gabriella to keep up with me.  But Gabriella already walks to work and after test driving the E-bike declared it was too easy to pedal so would result in less – not more – exercise

So we returned the E-bike and decided an electric assist bike would be the solution. Another stumbling block! All the models we looked at were either cheaply made (large lead acid batteries) or came in models to large for a petite woman.

Then EUREKA or should I say BION-X!!!. Gabriella test drove a bike at Cyclepath on the Danforth and it was love at first ride. The BION-X is Canadian made and is easily installed on any bicycle (www.bionx.ca). You can therefore pedal the bike with no assist or with 4 levels of assist. Now Gabriella is leaving me in the dust as I pedal up our many local hills and is out happily riding anywhere in our riding. For range issues, different batteries are available and the local President of the Beaches Green Party Riding Association rides his BION-X assisted bike all the way to Markham and back each day on a single charge. Much like my Hybrid Camry these bikes recharge their own batteries as you brake going downhill to help extend their range. Isn’t Canadian Technology so cool!

Far too many of us have 2 or more cars per family with one sitting unused or used mostly for local trips to the store for milk or videos or ???? An excellent option here is to ditch the second car and buy an E-bike or Electric Assist bicycle for local trips and for those rare occasions you do need 2 cars at once, sign up for CarShare or ZipCar. These options save you tons of money (gas, insurance, maintenance, parking etc.) and for local trips they may even be faster (but slow down and meet the neighbors and enjoy the local gardens!).

Now what to do with all those savings? Well now with gas prices forecast to hit $1.50 buy August ($2.00 by January) a hybrid car is making more sense than ever before. A word of caution here! Do not believe a word of the tripe you read from the auto journalists. I bought one of the first Camry Hybrids and I can personally verify that even at gasoline at $0.70/L I was saving money. Now all I can say to those that argued I paid too much, is look at who is laughing now. Quite simply automotive journalists do not know how to drive a Hybrid. Their idea of a test drive is to relatively drive the *&%# out of a car instead of driving it as we all should, and this does not mean driving like Granny (sorry Grandma?). Even better news is there are new hybrids coming out in almost every car model on the market within the next 2 years. But why wait when you can trade in the gas guzzler now and start saving for those ultra cool solar panels so you can save money on your electricity bill. As you can see it actually pays to be Green! And best of all you get to feel good and reduce your carbon footprint.

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