I'm in a bikey kind of mood today, probably because the delivery man just dropped off the electric assist bike that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. The Izip Trekking Enlightened comes with a battery powered motor that adds a little oomph to your peddle power. The batteries and motor are hidden away in the bike and offer a really smooth boost to your legs. I literally just unpacked it from the box and took a short ride around the neighborhood. I'm going to get some lunch and write another story or two and then take it on a longer shakedown cruise.
Electric assist bikes are great for anyone living with hills (Portland, Maine is basically one giant hill set on a peninsula) and anyone needing to carry around a lot of weight. Since I moved from the country and sold my car to pursue the greener city life, I've had to find new ways of getting old things done- like grocery shopping and taking the kids to the park. Portland is a supremely walkable city with a good public transportation system, but there are times when taking the bus isn't optimal and a good bike makes things easier. I did a big grocery shopping last week at a store less than a mile away from my house and had to sit through an hour long meandering bus ride to get within a block of my house (and even then, that was a LONG block to walk with 100+ lbs. of groceries).
It's funny- I mostly abandoned riding my bike once I hit 16 and got my license. Now that I'm back without a car and depending on my two legs to get around, I've swung back into being really excited about the power of the pedal. More people need to get out of their cars and onto two wheels. It's greener, healthier, and you end up seeing more the world at the slower pace of travel.
There's a lot that we could be doing to encourage more people to get around on bicycles. It should be no surprise that European countries are far and ahead of us in helping their citizens commute and travel by bike. One of my new dreams is to see a bike lift or three installed around Portland. Have you seen them? It's like a ski lift (a rope tow is probably a better analogy) for bikes. Here's a video of one in action in Norway.
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