Electric Bikes Can Make for a Happier, Healthier Commute
For years, millions Americans have piled themselves into a car every morning to fight ever increasing traffic on their way into work. For others, the overcrowding isn’t on the road but on the bus or train, where more and more commuters seem to be crammed into a stretched and stressed public transit infrastructure.
Often, this seems like an unfortunate and unavoidable after effect of the suburbanization that swept the country decades ago. But the truth of the matter is, more than half of the U.S. population lives within five miles of work. And that makes them prime candidates for a healthier, happier (and even older) way of commuting: the good ol’ bicycle.
In fact, many more American’s than you might realize are already paving a two-wheeled path to work every day. The League of American Bicyclists says that commuting in Bike Friendly Cities doubled between 2000-2013. And the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the number of Americans nationwide who travel to work by bike increased an incredible 60 percent over the last decade, making it the largest percentage increase of all commuting modes.
There are a number of factors leading to this boom in bike commuting, which provides health benefits that are both physical and mental. Those include:
Better Biking Infrastructure
For the past several years, cities across the country have been investing in protected bike lanes and other civic improvements that have had a huge impact on the safety – and practicality – of commuting by bike.
In fact, Pew Charitable Trust’s research noted that across the country, there’s been a 31 percent decline in serious injuries over the last 20 years, even though there are more people riding on bikes. Fatalities for bike commuters fell from 21 per 10,000 trips in 1980 to only nine in 2008.
The Rise of Electric Bikes
Electric Bikes have been popular in Europe and Asia for years now, where bicycling is viewed more as transportation and less as recreation. Over the past few years – through a combination of innovative design and improved technology – bike builders here in the US have started to change that and riders have started to embrace electric bikes.
That’s partially because electric bikes not only extend the range of a rider, they help you get to work without working up a sweat. So there’s no need to shower or change clothes when you get to the office. It’s also because a new generation of bikes are doing something almost counterintuitive – making electric bikes feel as much like a non-electric bike as possible.
One bike that’s exemplary of this change, the Faraday Porteur, got its start by winning the Oregon Manifest design contest – where it was dubbed the Ultimate Utility Vehicle. With 20 miles of electric power assist, multiple options for racks to carry bags, and a near-maintenance-free, greaseless drive train that includes an internal hub and carbon fiber belt drive, the Porteur provides a balance of power, ease and comfort that is perfect for commuting
It’s not only the people on the bikes who will be healthier when they get out of their cars and on to two wheels. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that if one out of 10 car commuters would switch to biking, we’d reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25.4 million tons a year. In addition, it’s estimated that that same change would lead to a savings of 2 billion gallons of gas a year.