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eBike blog – personal experience with sustainable transport for the new millenium

Archive for March, 2007

OoooOoooooooooooo BIKES!

Just got told which bikes we will be using for the Suitable Transport ride [my pic and bio is up on the riders page now btw]. They are going to be these: the “eZee Torq”. I think they could have come up with a less cheesy brand name, but the bike specs are sweet!

30Klm/hr
36V 10 Ah Lithium Ion or 36V 9Ah NiMH battery
35 klm Li Ion, 30 klm NiMH
23kg including battery
Brushless Servo motor nominal rating 200 watts with planetary gears
Automatic Smart charger, maximum charge time 5.5 hours
Road bike, Al alloy 6061
Kenda 700 C x 45
Tektro V-brakes front Shimano Roller brakes rear
Shimano Sora 8 speed
~ 80%
< 60 dB
@ 5N-m 120 watts, 4 amps, 36V, 200 rpm

AWESOME! These look a fair bit like the zbike I was keen on a few months ago – but these only weigh 23kg – including the battery[the zbike was 50kg, eeek]! Stephen has tested them and says they do pretty well up the hills, and he’s been riding longer than me, and is an electronics engineer, so I would say has a pretty good eye for such things. I’m super excited, if just a little bit trepidous for my bum, which will I expect get a little sore from that much time on a saddle seat.

Still: WHEEEE!

And now… here’s an interesting tidbit about bikes and helmets:

It’s safer to wear a wig

KAMALA HAYMAN – 14 September 2006

Cyclists may be safer wearing a long-haired wig than a helmet, new research suggests.

In England, a Bath University study found drivers gave a wider berth to cyclists with long hair than those wearing helmets. The study, by psychologist Dr Ian Walker, also found bare-headed cyclists were given more room than those wearing helmets. Walker used a bicycle fitted with a computer and an ultrasonic distance sensor to record data from more than 2500 overtaking motorists. He wore a helmet half the time. During his research, he was struck by a bus and a truck – both times while wearing a helmet.

In research to be published in the Accident Analysis and Prevention journal, Walker found drivers, on average, passed 1.33m from his bicycle. However, when he wore a long-haired wig – to give the impression he was female – overtaking drivers gave him an extra 14cm. By contrast, when he was wearing a helmet, they passed 8.5cm closer. Larger vehicles also narrowed the gap, with trucks passing 19cm closer than cars and buses, 23cm closer.

He wanted to do more research to understand why drivers appeared to give female cyclists such a wide berth. It was possible they were seen as less predictable than male riders because they were not seen on the road as often as male cyclists.

He suggested drivers saw cyclists with helmets as more serious, experienced and predictable than those without, and therefore needing less space when overtaking.

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Oh and errr…

You’re probably sick to death of hearing about ebikes today, but, qamar just linked from her radio show lj, aclimateaffair about a really exciting awareness-raising ebike ride coming up in April! It’s from Melbourne to Sydney, with about 20 riders riding on ebikes for about 8 days, in their work gear, to prove you can do this without breaking a sweat, and that anyone can do it, not just super-athletes! It’s just everything I’ve just spent hours ranting about, and I’m bouncing around like an excited bunny at the thought of being involved!!

EEP! This would be the most awesome thing to do!!!!!

And one of the coolest things, I’d get to see in person the Schwinn World GSE electric bike pre-release model which Stephen will be riding – one of the 2007 Schwinn ebikes I have been salivating over since I saw them announced a few days ago. They don’t provide those for everybody though, damnit. Still, I was planning on getting another ebike anyways…

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Dun Dun DAAAAA…. in CARS? [part II]

Thankyou everyone who responded to my little poll so far. I would like to make a few comments regarding responses. I have been gathering some very interesting information overnight, and this evening too.

So. It seems there are very few cyclists in our midst, with the majority of folks either driving or taking public transport for most of their commute.

It is great to see people using public transport instead of cars [though in some cases, because there doesn’t appear to be any other choice ie no license, no money for a car. But there IS another choice, in some cases] But I don’t use PT more than once every few months, and haven’t for a long time: too expensive & too slow. My scooter is much cheaper than public transport, and about 1/5 cost of a car to maintain. But it still spews pollution [nasty nasty pollution at that] – so I will sell it very soon. But it’s been a good transition! My ebike is about 1/5 of the cost of my scooter, probably less: and is faster for most of my daily trips. It will be faster than PT for most bus trips I’d be comparing it to, and if you add walking time, will win all out in nearly all cases. The only time I’d consider PT now is to go to the end of a line, or take my ebike and extend range from those points. So for most points I refute for cars, consider the ebike advantages over PT too.

So.

One of the major reasons for using a car for commuting is that it is faster than other forms of transport:

Over half of you travel less than 10km each way. Did you know than an ebike will get you a full 10km of distance, in about 20-30 minutes even on busy roads? This would be comparable, and in many cases, faster, than a car for the same distance. Even for longer distances, depending on traffic conditions, congestion and speed limits, an ebike would very likely put you in front.

And this is before we even begin to get into the area of “effective speed” – which examines how fast you are really going, when you take into account how much time you need to work to earn the money to pay for your transport, as well as your own personal maintenance time, if any. Here [pdf] is an excellent analysis of the effective speed of various vehicles for commuting purposes. Cars: between 12 – 23 kph, depending on model. Bus: approx 21 kph. Cycling: approx 18 kph. Ebike??? … not on that report, but taking the data I know of from my own use, I calculate it to come out at about 25 kph.

The other main reason for people using cars, is that people are just plain lazy.

Did you know you don’t even break a sweat using an ebike if you don’t want to? You can go up to 30kph easily using no pedalling at all. It’s hilarious doing no work and passing all these sweating hardcore cyclists with ease. Seriously – it’s so much fun.

Also, I have been reminded that safety is a really important issue too, and a big reason why people aren’t using public transport, and just have to use their cars. Sure, I would agree about public transport late at night, and I myself don’t recommend using PT at late hours, if I can avoid it. So…. supposedly cars are the only option for late night travel, or indeed safe travel at any other time? Wrong. Bikes are probably not as dangerous as you have been told. You are significantly less likely to die cycling than in a car for the amount of time spent doing either, and the more people who ride, the safer it gets. You are also, surprisingly, safer cycling at night, as long as you are using lights and following road rules [the reason statistics show night cycling is more dangerous is because many accidents happen at night due to lack of lights or bad cycling]. Why are we constantly told cycling is more dangerous? Because the car has ruled the road and anything that requires extra attention on the part of the motorist is removed if possible. But we are now aware of the very serious risks we run by continuing current practise, and continuing to use fossil fuels even when there are better alternatives. Plus ebikes improve safety over bicycles as they reduce the speed differential, and give you extra acceleration capacity to get out of potential trouble.

Of course, other people responded the reason they use their car is because of health issues. Do you realise that the sedentary lifestyle encouraged by car use is responsible for about half of the life-ending health issues in typical “top 10 cause of death” statistics, including heart disease, lung disease, strokes, diabetes and suicide – all causes of death which may have been prevented by exercise. Do you know that, despite it being possible and at times desirable to be lazy on an ebike, because of the likelihood of owners using them far more often than regular bikes, they end up exercising more, without really trying, and thus get fitter? If your health reason for driving is because of your inability to sit on a bicycle seat – there are recumbents which have seats similar to car seats. If you have balance issues, there are etrikes. If your health reason for driving is because you can’t pedal – as stated before, on an ebike – you don’t have to.

Just another wee note. Carrying stuff. It’s a great excuse for taking the car instead of a bike. But did you know you can get great trailers, kid-seats as well as panniers, bike racks, baskets… there’s a huge range of options for tranporting things, and people, on an ebike.

So. If you want to get there safer AND faster AND be lazy AND be healthy AND carry stuff, an ebike is the answer! *nod*

nb. I know there are situations in which an ebike is not practical. But think carefully about your situation. There is probably a greater than 50% chance it would be a better choice for you for commuting, and you would be healthier, happier and have more time and money to spare, if you were using one.

[Goodie Goodie Yum Yum]

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