Here’s what we submitted for our Hayling Herald November 2022 column, with online links and more pictures ….
- Could you swap a car for a bike?
- Cargo Bikes
- The e-bike giggle
Could you swap a car for a bike?
With the price of fuel, more and more people are using e-bikes to replace some car journeys, or even their car. They save a fortune, and keep fit into the bargain. As part of Car-Free Day, Sustrans reported on ten people who successfully went car-free for three weeks, and ended up shedding three cars between them.
But it does beg the question “how do you carry stuff on a bike?”, whether it’s shopping, children, sports gear, even wheelchairs? Unless you live in Asia, where people use bikes to move house, there are four main options, in ascending order of cost :
- On your body – eg a rucksack
- On your bike – a basket or a rack and panniers
- In a trailer behind you
- In a cargo bike
A rucksack puts the weight on you, and quite high, which some people find uncomfortable. Panniers keep the centre of gravity much lower, and they can hold a huge amount, whether shopping, or even camping gear.
For occasional carrying capacity, trailers are a good bet, as you have a normal bike the rest of the time. There are all sorts, from £100 up, to carry children, dogs, shopping, or anything. Solent Cycle Project’s Dr Bike team turn up by bike and trailer with their bike stands and bike tools. As does local naturalist and gardner Martin Hampton, with a mower, a complete set of garden tools and often plants too. And with an e-bike, you’d barely notice the extra load.
But if you’re often carrying heavy loads, perhaps ferrying young kids around, you can’t beat …..
I became an instant cargo bike expert a few weeks ago, at Havant Climate Alliance’s Eco-Fair. We had tee’d up Southsea Cycles to give trial rides on e-bikes and cargo bikes, but Covid forced them to cancel at the last minute. So I persuaded them to let me run it. Having only ridden a few hundred metres on e-bikes, and even less on cargo bikes, it was certainly a baptism of fire.
But once I’d worked out how to release the parking brake, it was easy. We had dozens of people riding, which proved that anyone who can ride a bike can ride an e-bike, and probably a cargo bike too. And they loved it!
We even had a seven year old riding the Babboe cargo trike, without being able to reach the saddle, and carrying two big kids as passengers. Only one person in the whole day didn’t think she could manage it. Trikes are self-balancing, which makes it easier to get started, but you have to be a bit more careful on bumps and corners. Southsea Cycles hires out the local crowd-funded trikes by the hour, so you could give it a good test.
But they’re not all trikes – they come in many different styles, depending on what you want to carry. How about a sofa? Or a fridge? And if you come to Cycle Hayling’s 3rd Wednesday of the month starter rides, you’ll see Roger Knight’s specially adapted trike carrying passengers in a wheelchair. And that’s not even an e-bike.
The e-bike giggle
If you’ve never ridden an e-bike before, I defy you not to do ‘the e-bike giggle’. Nearly everyone does it. That sudden pulling forward is so unexpected. It’s like riding downhill, or with the wind behind you, but better.
For people that say an e-bike is cheating, is it any more cheating than using a lift or an escalator instead of the stairs? Or using a ski-lift instead of walking up to the top of the mountain? Or jumping in the car for a journey you could have cycled?
E-bikes can still get you very fit by reducing or switching off the power.
If you’re happy using a normal bike, and it gets you everywhere you could reasonably expect to cycle, then carry on. But if an e-bike could take a car off the road, even better.
An e-bike isn’t instead of a normal bike, it’s instead of NOT cycling, and perhaps instead of a car!