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A new year brings new beginnings with an electric-assist bike

Can’t deny it. For most of us, there are many beautiful places where we seldom or never bike because hills, wind, lack of time, or other conditions mean bicycling isn’t feasible for our stamina and schedule.
There’s a fix for that. And it will make a big difference in where and how far I ride in 2018. Here’s what led me to embracing an alternate mode of sustainable transportation, the e-assist bicycle.

“Oh, the places you’ll go!”

In Monterey County, those places may include…
Highway 1, along the Big Sur Coast

 

The bicycle is a Superbe iE Step Thru made by Raleigh Electric Bikes.

Carmel Highlands

 

Yes, in Monterey County, biking along the Big Sur Coast will be right for some people. (First, check out Big Sur tips.) Or biking the Carmel Highlands or Carmel Valley, or Carmel-by-the-Sea and other Monterey Peninsula communities, such as MontereyPebble Beach, and Seaside. Urban riders enjoy John Steinbeck’s hometown—Monterey County’s largest city and its county seat, Salinas, including the Alisal. Other people are drawn to the county’s second-oldest town and the “Artichoke Capital of the World,” Castroville, along with other North County communities. In the Salinas Valley, “Salad Bowl of America,” make new discoveries by biking Greenfield, Gonzales, and other South County communities.

How I came to embrace an e-assist bike

Nearly ten years ago (and leading, eight weeks later, to my creating the first edition of the Tips guide, the first of many Bicycling Monterey projects), the Monterey County Weekly’s annual readers’ poll proclaimed cloth grocery bags as the best green/eco trend. Cloth bags? I was surprised; family and friends had been using them for over thirty years.

But that year’s “best green/eco trend” also reminded me that I hadn’t been taking many new actions to care for the planet. And I hadn’t kept up one of my former eco-wise habits: bicycling as my primary mode of transportation.

When I lived in the city of Santa Cruz, I biked a hundred miles weekly—to work, for errands, for fun. Then I moved to rural Monterey County, where I abandoned my bike as everyday transportation.

Eventually the many benefits of biking—including environmental benefits—conspired to get me back in the saddle regularly. Helping renew my commitment to biking was the dedicated earth stewardship of a new friend met in 2007, Matthew Sleeth, MD. With his wife, Nancy Sleeth, he co-founded Blessed Earth. Their son, Clark, was inspiring too; he biked and walked nearly everywhere, using just a half tank of gas in five months.

I knew that:

  • Fossil fuels used for transportation are a heavy contributor to carbon emissions. Biking is a meaningful way to act on climate change. Biking is part of the mix in climate hope.
  • Biking helps reduce noise pollution. I recall when it was quiet outdoors at night, without the steady drone of motor vehicles on Highway 68 and Highway 1 in the distance. It feels good to help reduce traffic noise.
  • Bicycling helps reduce oil runoff, brake dust, and other contaminants that flow from streets into the Monterey Bay or other waterways.

If environmental benefits aren’t inspiring enough, there are so many other benefits to biking, from improved personal and public health to strengthened communities. For me, not least of all is the joy factor—the thrill of speeding downhill, the refreshing feel of fog misting my face, hearing bird songs, pausing to chat with folks, and knowing the power of my own legs. Maybe best is seeing the world anew. Each sunset seems more vivid. It’s a beautiful planet. Staying closer to it, as you are on a bicycle, inspires safeguarding it.

Nevertheless, despite these and other reasons to bike, stamina and schedule often simply don’t allow pedaling a traditional bicycle to your destination. That’s where e-assist can make a big difference! The Raleigh Electric Superbe iE Step Thru grants the freedom to bike, instead of driving, far more often. And since an e-assist bike provides electric assistance only when the rider is pedaling, it still benefits the personal health of the rider, as well as the health of the planet.

For thousands of Californians, electric bicycles are quickly becoming “the vehicle of choice.” That was pointed out by the California Bicycle Coalition when CalBike advocated for clarified definitions and updated regulations. Of course, the increasing popularity of e-bikes isn’t just a California phenomenon. Throughout the United States, more people are discovering why so many Europeans and others have already embraced e-bikes with enthusiasm.

Each new year offers a new beginning, and new opportunities to live out our values, from self-care to caring for our families and communities to caring for our planet. I’m grateful to have the e-assist boost of the Superbe iE as I aim to better live out mine.

For more about my experiences on the Raleigh Electric bicycle, the Superbe iE—and how and why I became an e-assist aficionada—see “From E-Bike Snob to ‘Won Me Over’: Pedaling Monterey County with a Boost-on-Demand from E-Assist.”

Carmel Beach

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