Hamilton Electric Bikes

Thinking of Commuting to Work or School on Your Bike?

Are you noticing more people commuting to work, school or running errands on bicycles and ebikes these days? I’m seeing it both on a personal level when out in my community but also as on a professional level by the increasing amount of people coming into our shop telling us that they need an abike for their commute or that they need their ebike serviced ASAP because it’s their only set of wheels. You may be wondering if you can also park your car (if you can still afford one) or limit your use of public transportation and join the movement? Your lifestyle, level of fitness, budget, age, health or disability issues, proximity to work, school, local shops, amenities and services will all play a part. We will try to break this down for you.

Let’s start but asking and answering a few important questions such as:

  1. What are the benefits and practicalities of cycling full time, especially for people in the northern hemisphere like in Canada, where we have four distinct seasons that all have their benefits and challenges?
  2. What are some of those challenges and how can they be overcome?
  3. How can e-bikes help with these challenges?
  4. How can schools, businesses and institutions help make my commute practical, easier, safer and more fun?

Benefits of Cycling:

  • Health Benefits: Cycling is a great form of exercise. It improves cardiovascular fitness, increases muscle strength and flexibility, and reduces stress levels.
  • Environmental Impact: Cycling reduces carbon emissions, as it is a non-polluting mode of transport. This contributes to improved air quality, especially in urban areas.
  • Cost-Effective: Bicycling is more cost-effective than driving or using public transportation, as it eliminates fuel costs and parking fees.
  • Reduces Traffic Congestion: More cyclists and fewer cars on the road can help to reduce traffic congestion in busy city centers. Also, more cyclists free up more parking spaces on streets, at malls and other businesses making it safer, less congested and aggravating for motorists on our streets.

Challenges of Cycling:

  • Weather Conditions: In the northern hemisphere, winter months can be particularly challenging due to snow and icy conditions.
  • Safety Concerns: There can be a risk of accidents, particularly in areas without well-designed bike lanes or paths.
  • Theft: Bike theft, car theft and other personal property theft has become a big issue in many parts of the county.
  • Distance: Longer commutes may not be feasible for cycling.
  • Physical: Fitness level or a disability may limit ability to cycle.
  • Financial: Quality bicycles and ebikes can be expensive.

Overcoming the Challenges:

  • Weather Conditions: Many bike lanes now have winter maintenance and with the milder winters in most parts of the country snow has become less of an issue. Appropriate clothing like bar mitts, skull caps, foot covers, layering etc and equipment such as winter tires can also help cyclists overcome harsh weather conditions. In the wetter seasons, fenders and rain gear help keep you dry and in the summer using more pedal assist or a throttle can help you to overexert yourself and become sweaty or dehydrated.
  • Safety Concerns: Strong and growing advocacy for more and better bike lanes, increased visibility through modern reflective clothing or lights, and better awareness of traffic rules are continuously improving safety.
  • Theft: It’s no secret that expensive ebikes and bikes are a target for thugs and increasing for organized crime rings. That can create anxiety for anyone wishing to make the shift to community via an expensive ebike. There are ways to stop or at least slow down a criminal’s ability to steal your ebike. First use a good quality lock, motion alarm, GPS tracker and try not to park in unsafe areas. Not that may sound easy but it’s not always feasible. We also need government at all levels, institutions, and business to help by installing secure bike lock-ups like seen in many European countries and that thankfully is starting to happen in many more places around the country. We also need bike manufacturers to preinstall alarms, remote motor disabling software and GPS trackers. This is happening as I write these words and ebikes coming out in the near future will have many of these extra theft deterrent features.
  • Distance: Combining cycling with public transport can make longer commutes more feasible and of course the introduction of electric bicycles is a game changer for tackling most round trip commutes under 100 km’s.
  • Physical: For most city commutes a rider can build up the strength and stamina over time to tackle most trips. If there are challenging parts or the commute is further than one’s ability they can use public transportation in many cities coupled with their bike to help. For larger cargo loads on a commute there are many different configurations of cargo bikes that can help one carry what they need. There are many types of tricycles that can help carry heavy  or bulky loads and also help people with disabilities or balance issues get where they need to go much easier. Ebikes can solve the physical issues for many riders. From city ebikes with smaller motors and batteries for shorter distances to e-cruisers, e-MTB’s, e-cargo, e-folding, e-family or e-trikes with various sizes of batteries for distance and more powerful motors to help you move your loads, there are ready made ebike solutions.
  • Financial: There certainly are a number of cheap bikes and ebikes on the market these days but that comes at a cost down the road. To make a very inexpensive bike or ebike the manufacturer needs to cut corners and costs. That means using lower quality parts and components, little to no warranty or after sale service. Which translates into a bike that will break down more and be unreliable and unsafe. Literally, the last things you need or want on your daily commute! Purchasing a quality ebike is an investment and we have the tools to help you out like financing through our partners at Financeit.ca and a wide range of ebikes at various costs. But rest assured we do the hard work and look for the best brands at the best possible prices that only come with quality parts and great warranties. Maybe one of the most important things to remember is that every ebike we sell also comes with the guarantee that you have a real bricks and mortar shop there for you when and if you need help, advice or service.

Role of E-Bikes:

E-bikes can be a great solution to many of the challenges of cycling. They can help cover longer distances and climb hills with less effort, making cycling more accessible to a wider range of people. They can also be particularly useful in overcoming the challenge of harsh winter conditions, as they require less physical exertion, reducing the risk of overheating and then getting chilled from sweat. Alternatively, they can help in the hotter summer months by allowing you to not overexert yourself and show up at work or school  looking like you just stepped out of the shower.

Promotion by Government, Schools, Businesses, and Institutions:

Coming full circle, none of this is going to work to its fullest extent without strong leadership and a clear vision from all levels of government, schools, businesses and institutions. Here is a our wish list to help get things moving in some instances and to keep the ball rolling in other situations:

  • Infrastructure: Providing bike racks, showers, and lockers can make cycling more convenient.
  • Incentives: Offering incentives such as subsidies for bike purchases, rewards for regular cyclists, or discounts at local businesses can encourage more people to cycle.
  • Education: Promoting the benefits of cycling and offering safety training can help to alleviate concerns and motivate people to start cycling.
  • Policies: Implementing policies that favor cycling, such as allowing bikes on public transport during rush hour or creating car-free zones, can make cycling more attractive.
  • Events: Organizing events like bike-to-work days or charity bike rides can raise the profile of cycling and encourage participation.

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