Over the past four years, I’ve drastically reduced the amount of car journeys needed due to owning an electric bike. I will offer some tips and perspectives to help you tease out whether a similar lifestyle shift is possible for you! We will look at common scenarios where you may have doubts about completely shifting to using an electric bike.
Yes, it’s possible to replace your car in many instances. The important factors are to consider your commute, your shopping trips, good communication & planning with your spouse if you have a single car, and investigating local car rentals.
Replace a Car with an E-Bike for Commuting to Work
According to ABC News, the average American drives 16 miles to work each day, taking on average 30 minutes each way. That’s an average speed of 32 mph. Bear in mind this is an average number, so many commutes are quite a bit less than this amount.
Why is this important? Well, it means that many commutes are feasible for e-bike commuting! Many electric bike batteries have enough range to make this trip, and by following some simple tips, like charging at work, you effectively double the range of your e-bike! That is certainly not possible with your car.
Think of the time you will save, since you’re not trapped in gridlock, cursing the guy in front who sped through the red light at the last second delaying you once again. Not to mention the exercise and mental health benefits by getting fresh air, combining a previously stressful commute with a mild workout.
If you usually work from home (WFH) as a result of the pandemic, and normally let your car sit idle, you’ve even more of a reason to ditch the car. It’s a hassle all round to have a large, expensive item slowly burning cash, when instead you could consider selling the car and putting the funds towards buying an e-bike! You may even be eligible for a tax break!
Depending on where you live, it may be possible to combine public transport with an e-bike, so that a longer, more stressful part of your commute is done via bus or train, and the enjoyable parts with a good bike path are done on the e-bike. This is a great way to get around hilly terrain – but in any case, e-bikes are great at ‘flattening’ hills, even for relatively inexperienced or unfit bike commuters.
Further reading on e-bike commuting:
- Are electric bikes good for commuting?
- 17 Tips to Know Before Commuting via E-Bike
- Essential Tips for E-Bike Commuting in Winter
- Is an E-Bike Actually Worth It?
- E-bike vs E-Scooter for Commuting – Which is Better?
Shopping Trips with an E-Bike
E-bikes open up all kinds of possibilities apart from just commuting a single person, and light exercise on the weekend. Combined with a bike trailer, they are the ideal urban or suburban transport vehicle. Nimble, quiet, maneuverable, ‘parkable’ almost anywhere, and can haul a surprising amount of cargo in a suitable trailer – you definitely should consider this an option, especially if there are stores within a couple of miles of your home.
I’ve written in the past about Thule e-bike trailers, check out the cute doggie pics too! You can combine shopping, dog walking and bringing a child along on a single trip! These trailers can seat one or two small to medium children, or even babies with the addition of a suitable baby seat. You can also use them as a baby stroller (or doggie stroller) as pictured, so it’s incredibly versatile.
School Runs on an E-Bike
Depending on the availability of a local school bus service, the terrain and distance to school, you may be able to combine e-bikes with school runs. Again by using a trailer, or a ‘tag along bike’ (a cut down kids bike that attaches to your e-bike, kind of like an ad-hoc tandem bike) you may be able to replace the school run in a car completely with your electric bike. It’s also great for your kids mind to be out in the fresh air before school instead of a stuffy vehicle in gridlock.
Communication and Planning with Spouse regarding Car Usage
If you’ve gone from two cars to a single car household, good communication with your spouse in advance is vital to ensure the transition runs smoothly!
To completely eliminate using a car, consider the typical distance for school runs, both of your commutes and distance for the weekly grocery shopping. The ideal scenario is one or both partners mostly working from home, so that the occasional trip on public transport or e-bike eliminates commuting by car. If the kids travel by school bus, even better! And having shops within walking distance will make life easier, even though it’s not essential.
For the weekly grocery shopping, it’s advisable to use a trailer unless you’re living in a single person household. If you’re shopping without a trailer, you will need a good rear basket and bags for hauling cargo.
Investigating Car Sharing, Ride Sharing, Rentals, Commuter Pools and Uber
So if you’ve committed to getting rid of your car, it’s a very good idea to check out the local car rental and sharing options in your area in case there are journeys you will be making where an e-bike isn’t an option. Perhaps you live in an area with freezing conditions during winter. Perhaps the distance to work is simply too long. That’s ok! Getting rid of the car and mostly using your e-bike is still feasible, with a little advance preparation and creative thinking.
Check the Uber app to see if there are good availability of cars in case you need one in a pinch. Discover where the local Hertz or car rental companies are located. If there’s an airport anywhere nearby, this will be straightforward.
What if you need to move house or move furniture? It’s time to get creative. Perhaps you have a neighbor or friend who owns a car trailer or SUV that you could borrow for several hours? Pay them back with a crate or beer or invite them to a BBQ, and you’ll save a huge amount over driving an oversized SUV that is only occasionally utilized throughout the year. You save the planet, your wallet, improve your fitness and develop great relationships in your local community all at the same time! I’ve moved several items of furniture by borrowing a car trailer, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Owning an SUV would be a huge headache due to parking, not to mention a giant waste of money.
But what if you don’t know anyone who can lend you a trailer or SUV? Check out your local car rental company. You should be able to rent a large van or truck for a few hours, enough to cover your needs. No need to own such a large vehicle when it’s only used a handful of times per year. Some hardware and furniture stores even offer truck or van rentals for a reasonable fee, so be sure to ask in advance! I know from experience that Ikea offers this service in my area for instance- perhaps it’s the same for you.
For commuting, there may even be an option in your workplace to commute together with co-workers in a commuter pool. Enterprise offers a clever commuter pool service to allow several people commute together to save money. This is a great idea if your daily commute is too far for an e-bike ride. The government of Pennsylvania has some additional information related to car pooling, which could be of interest to you.
Advantages of Electric Bikes vs Cars
So what kind of advantages can you expect from giving up your car? Some are obvious, but there’s more subtle benefits too.
You’ll start saving money immediately by switching to an e-bike instead of a car. One of the biggest is the fuel cost, which is almost free for an e-bike, particularly if you can charge up the battery at work. You double your batteries range by doing this also!
The maintenance for an e-bike is minimal compared to a car. Obviously an e-bike is a much simpler, smaller machine than a car, and parts will cost much less. If you are a DIY type person, many basic maintenance tasks like replacing light bulbs, oiling the chain or replacing break pads can be done yourself, saving even more money.
Even if you have a cheap, reliable car, and replace it with a relatively expensive e-bike, you’ll still save money due to the high ongoing costs of actually owning a car- parking, fuel, tax, insurance (you can optionally avail of e-bike insurance), driver’s licence costs, sudden mechanics visits, winter tire changes, and more. In most countries, you don’t need any kind of tax, registration or insurance for an e-bike, simply don your helmet and off you go!
Contrary to popular belief, using an e-bike isn’t cheating, in fact it’s a great form of exercise with significant potential for burning calories and improving your cardiovascular fitness. Of course this applies to pedal-assist e-bikes, rather than throttle e-bikes. The exercise benefits of e-bikes have been confirmed by multiple studies. E-bike riders tend to go for longer, therefore getting a great cardio workout. Combine this with the fact that e-bikes are an non-intimidating way for those who feel unfit to get back into regular exercise, and you have a great way for almost anyone to improve their general fitness levels. In fact, the heavier you are, the quicker you’ll burn calories on an e-bike according to MyFitnessPal, a popular calorie tracking app. A 30 minute commute will burn 100s of calories for most people – and the heavier you are, the more calories burned.
This one isn’t as obvious, but it certainty is a clear benefit. When traveling to work in a car, it’s normal to get quite stressed out about making it to the office on time and having your blood pressure being raised at the daily craziness on gridlocked roads. Contrast this to using an e-bike. You’re getting the blood flowing in a healthy way, which increases mental alertness and reduces stress. Since there is no traffic usually on bike routes, you never have to stress about being late, so long as you left in good time. You’ll arrive to work de-stressed, alert and in a perfect mindset to be productive.
No Wasted Time in Gridlock
Beat the rush, get mentally refreshed and arrive early – what’s not to like?
Let’s not forget the fun factor! Being stuck in heavy traffic sucks, but being on an e-bike usually brings a smile to my face, even after years of using e-bikes! The feeling of having a gentle push effect at your back never gets old. Whizzing along on a quiet country lane is always fun, you almost fee like you’re flying with no effort, particularly in hilly areas. E-bikes are cool 🙂
An e-bike is a very environmentally friendly transport option, even compared to electric cars. It takes drastically less material to build and maintain, and obviously takes less batteries to power it forward compared to a heavy EV. This is important as batteries can have negative environmental impacts if disposed of incorrectly. The good news is that more an more lithium ion recycling facitilites are coming online in many countries, so as more batteries reach the end of life, they can be recycled into brand new batteries instead of the materials being mined from the earth.
Further reading on e-bike advantages:
There;s never been a better time to replace your car with an electric bike. Work from home has drastically altered our lifestyles and priorities for good. It’s quite wasteful and a bad use of your money to leave a car parked used, most of the time, all the while piling up expenses. Instead you could simply treat yourself to a nice e-bike and enjoy the multitude of benefits that comes with it.