A Step-by-step Guide To Diving In Pedals First
By John Tribbia, Guest blogger, Spicy Curry rider and Boulder Bike Dad
During my graduate school days while living in Boulder, Colorado (my hometown), I studied the social, economic, and psychological determinants of environmentally responsible behavior. I specifically wanted to know why people opt to drive personal automobiles as opposed to riding a bike or taking alternative transportation, especially in situations where infrastructure and attitudes are seemingly well aligned to a car-free lifestyle.
Here, in Boulder, were a group of people who are notorious for being athletic, educated, and affluent, they lived in a city and county with a large network of paths that make biking very accessible, and the Colorado Front Range weather boasts 300-plus days of sunshine. Yet, I saw lines of cars and trucks sitting idly in traffic while I leisurely passed them in my cross-town commute by bike each day.
Much to my disappointment, eleven years later, traffic is still at a standstill in an even longer queue and the air quality has increasingly worsened. What I discovered was that that the key social-psychological barriers preventing people from getting out of their cars and joining me on the bike paths are their self-perceived inability and lack of skill, as well as, an inadequate external support system that nurtures their sense of community.
Step 1: Fall in love with Cargo Bikes
Let’s be honest, the Colorado Front Range and Boulder Area is undoubtedly an intimidating place to ride a bike. On any given day, you might see a lycra-clad Olympian Mountain Biker, Professional Cyclist preparing for the Tour de France, or World Champion Ironman Triathlete effortlessly whizzing past you on the roadways or bike path. As a commuter or recreational cyclist who shuns lycra clothing and other pleasantries of cycling culture, biking alongside this elite crowd can leave a person feeling inferior, unknowledgeable, and, even worse, demoralized to the point that they don’t enjoy spinning around on two wheels.
It wasn’t until I saw a middle-aged woman wearing a sun dress and riding a cruiser bike, equipped with an electric pedal assist, easily keeping pace behind two very fast elite cyclists that it dawned upon me: e-bikes are the answer and will be the catalyst to automobile traffic reduction and air quality improvements!
So, first things first, what is an e-bike?
Simply put, an e-bike is an electric bicycle that looks, fits, and rides like a conventional bike but is equipped with a small electric motor to either assist pedaling or replace pedaling entirely. That is, most e-bikes have an electronic control system that allows riders to select an option to pedal unassisted, pedal with some electronic assistance, or not pedal at all with full electronic motorization.
Yuba Bicycles is a rapidly growing brand that has been at the forefront of cargo bike development, especially with their Yuba Spicy Curry cargo bike that has electric assist. The company is one of the premier cargo bike manufacturers on earth by creating bikes that are high quality and motivate its riders to lead, inspire, educate, and share the power of a healthy, sustainable way of life, via two wheels.
Moreover, the Spicy Curry has enabled even the non-rider types to replace their vehicles with an assisted biking option. The batteries used by these bikes are designed so they can be brought inside for recharging using a normal electrical outlet when the ride is done or when the rider is inside at work. With full electronic motorization, these bikes have a range of around 25 to 45+ miles depending on the terrain and weight of the rider and cargo. By U.S. law, e-bikes can only reach a top speed of between 15 – 20 mph and Yuba e-bikes are no exception with many of the bike options topping out at 20 mph.
Intrigued? Well, here are 5 reasons why you should get a Yuba e-bike for your daily commute
(1) Your boss won’t give you a bar of soap for your going away gift
When I was in college during my summer breaks, I interned at a research laboratory located at the top of a 2km long hill that climbed several hundred feet in elevation. As long as there wasn’t snow on the ground or gale force winds, I rode my bike up that hill to work everyday. Without fail, the ride up was always challenging and it left me sweaty by the end. Oftentimes I was too naive to consider bringing a change of clothes (not even a t-shirt to change into!), so I would rely on the air conditioning in my basement office space to cool off the first 20-30 minutes of my workday. In hindsight, I should have brought that change of clothes. I look back and realize my disregard was seemingly problematic since my boss gifted me a bar of soap on my last day prior to going back to my fall semester of classes. Hint, hint…
Commuting with an e-bike helps assist when the going gets tough, like on long steep hills, and can make commuting to work less arduous and less sweaty and thus more enjoyable for you and your coworkers when you get to your office. In fact, the Yuba Spicy Curry with electric assist can carry upwards of 300 lbs. of payload while still performing well at relatively high speeds for bike commuting. Commuters no longer need to worry about bringing an extra change of clothes because the Bosch Cargo Line Motor system makes riding far more easier and “wet shirt” issues things of the past.
(2) You can make that stop to the grocery store…and you won’t have to look for a parking space
Regarding that huge cargo payload capacity, the rear rack on the Spicy Curry can easily hold 120 lbs., while maintaining a high level of stability on the 20-inch rear wheel, without issue. That means the bike handles just like a standard sized bike yet can easily accommodate large cargo loads, hauls from the grocery store, and our most valuable cargo (children!).
Let’s say an average gallon of milk weighs about 8.5 lbs. and my 5-year-old son weighs about 40 lbs. With the 2-Go Cargo Bags, Bamboo SideBoards, Adjustable Monkey Bars, and a Soft Spot Padded Seat, I could carry my 5 lb. laptop, pick up my son from school after work, and make a stop at the grocery store on the way home to get four gallons of milk (I eat a lot of cereal). With the stability and power of the Spicy Curry e-bike, the ride home on a full load with the pedal assist is no more challenging than a leisurely cruise around the block. And, it should go without mentioning, finding a parking spot close to the store entrance for a bike is much easier than a car, especially if you do your shopping at a national chain natural foods store that is notorious for having crazier than normal parking lots.
(3) You will dominate Commuter Olympics
“On your left!” “Bike passing” (ring, ring)
Get ready to use all of those methods to warn encroaching cyclists and pedestrians while riding a Spicy Curry with electric assist. E-bike riders will have the ability to ride at speeds some riders would never attain on a conventional bike and, as a result, there will be a lot of passing slower riders, runners, and/or pedestrians. What’s more, having electric assist on your cargo bike that can attain speeds up to 20 mph actually helps commuters stay with the flow of automobile traffic at a lower strain, making it safer for everyone (MacArthur, 2017). In addition, e-bikes have good acceleration and it is not strenuous to start from standstill, so riders are actually less inclined to speed through very yellow or red lights.
(4) Save Money and Clean the Air
The many advantages of commuting by e-bike include enjoying free parking, less roadway and path congestion, and the cost to charge the battery is much less than gasoline to fill up a car (and it is worth mentioning that there are major savings like no insurance, registration, more expensive maintenance costs of an automobile). While not totally emission free, since e-bikes require some form of electricity to charge, the batteries on a Yuba e-bike set up still gets an equivalent of about 1,000 miles per gallon of gasoline (Thompson and Kennan, 2017). So, growth in e-bike ridership will most certainly put a dent in the emissions volume and simultaneously clean the air and reduce noise pollution.
(5) You’ll want to ride your Spicy Curry even more!
Research on e-bike ridership has begun showing that these bikes are effective at getting new riders on a bike who otherwise might be intimidated about riding a bike. This also includes newer or returning riders with physical challenges – like Parkinson’s, Arthritis, or autoimmune disorders – who may not have the physical ability to go any distance by conventional bike. E-bikes also encourage current riders to ride more often, because of the cost effectiveness, convenience, and sheer enjoyment of being on a bike. With research showing that all types of e-bike riders feel more independent and free to explore, it goes to show that the middle-aged woman in a dress on an e-bike cruiser who was keeping pace with elite cyclists in Boulder is an excellent example demonstrating that e-bikes are here to stay and will soon functionally replace cars for a wide variety of trips, offer transportation options to people who can’t drive, expand the number of people using bicycles, get more people biking more often, and make family bicycling more accessible (McLeod, K., 2015).
If you are already shopping for a Yuba Spicy Curry cargo e-bike or are now in the market for one, there are a few things to keep in mind when you finally get your bike.
- Get comfortable riding and operating your bike before making long trips. There are numerous videos on YouTube providing excellent instruction and tips on how to operate your bike. Not to mention, the employees at University Bicycles in Boulder and the customer service representatives at Yuba are an excellent and knowledgeable resource.
- Wear a helmet. This is a no brainer.
- Know your local laws. Make sure you are aware of what roads and bike path routes are safe and allow e-bikes. Know what laws cyclists must obey and stay safe.
Heather Thompson and Hallie Kennan. 2017. As Transportation Costs, Emissions Grow, Electric Bikes Offer An Efficient Alternative. Forbes Magazine. https://www.forbes.com/sites/energyinnovation/2017/07/06/as-transportation- costs-emissions-grow-electric-bikes-offer-an-efficient-alternative/
Evaluation of an Electric Bike Pilot Project at Three Employment Campuses in Portland, Oregon J MacArthur, N Kobel, J Dill, Z Mumuni
MacArthur J., 2017 – National Electric Bike Owner Survey McLeod, K., 2015 – Electric bicycles: public perceptions & policy
McLeod, K., 2015 – How people currently perceive electric bicycles and how these new types of bicycles might fit into our work.