Jenny Boylan: “Riding grew harder as I grew older. Then I got an electric bicycle.”

Longtime cyclist Jenny Boylan rode less as she got older. She tells a riveting story of the ways an e-bike changed her riding and that of many others in her NY Times opinion piece. Read it here. Boylan’s story humanizes several trends that are propelling e-bike growth in the US and worldwide. Perhaps most important, she conveys the emotion and great feelings we experience from e-bike riding.

Five years ago I demo’d an e-bike from one of my client’s bike partners at the Oregon Handmade Bike Show. Everyone trying that Klaxon Hartmann 29er returned with a smile or said something really nice. Here’re a few examples from that time:

  1. The late Larry Baggett, a builder and owner of Competitive Instincts (Bend OR).
  2. Father of special needs child interested in e-bike to take his kid around.
  3. Interest peaks in e-bike after a test ride.
  4. Better Bicycle Company founder talks about serving the needs of people who “want to get around” but “not buy into the culture.”

These clips anticipate the points Boylan eloquently makes, but she brings them out from under the enthusiast’s tent into the cycling sunshine for the broader public. My hunch is that many of her readers will start musing about e-bikes, a wonderful thing.

Commuting again

Now that temps are over 40 in the morning, restarted commuting. Decided this year to use a different station, about twice as far, at about 3 miles. Takes an extra 7-8 minutes each way, but doubling the distance and time on the bike is good and doesn’t require an extra level of commitment.

The Need to Support Utility Cycling

Very glad to see growing coverage of nearly all aspects of cycle commuting in newspapers and on TV. My local shop, Smart Cycles, was featured on Cablevision’s News 12 last week. We need to augment commuting with using the bike for local trips. Bikes can’t substitute for all errand runs, but taking out one or more car trips a week can be beneficial. Just the other day, ironically, I cycled over to the local auto parts store for some things, and on another day I went over to Walgreen’s for sundries. Timewise, it took about as long as a car trip, but it was far more pleasant.   

For utility cycling to take hold, though, businesses need to support and accommodate cyclists and to see their visits as economically beneficial. Neither AutoZone or Walgreen’s had a rack. At the former I locked up to a fence, and at the latter to a young tree narrow enough to accommodate my U-lock. Looks like it’s time for a letter to the paper.