20
Jun 2010
by mark

20 miles of errands with an electric cargo bike

yard sales with an electric Yuba Mundo

Today’s milestone was our first family trip to Lowe’s by bike. While I have no special love for this big box store, it’s sells some things we can’t find elsewhere in town. It’s also located on the farthest edge of Richmond, nestled next to a interstate exchange and the typical sprawl of chain businesses and parking lots that accompanies them.

None the less, we found routes there and back that involved minimal time of busy roads, arriving in 18 minutes*. In total, we rode about another 20 in-town miles today running typical errands. Again this seemed very reasonable on the electric cargo bike, and a workout on my fast recumbent to keep up.

At this point we’ve ventured to all the furthest corners of Richmond that we commonly visit, and found that the “far away” places in town are easily reachable in about 15 minutes by electric cargo bike, with several prior challenges essentially eliminated– It’s finally easy to bring a child and cargo up hills and over a distance.

There are still some challenges that remain to eliminate our car for in-town trips, which are more cultural and personal than technical limitations, although our bike infrastructure could certainly stand to be improved.

  • A car is still the fastest option. Sometimes lack-of-planning or expectations leave room only for fastest possible option. In place like Amsterdam, a bike often is the fastest option. On personal level, this temptation will continue to exist unless we sell our personal car.
  • The car functions as 4,000 pound weatherproof suit: it’s a solution for heavy rain, and extreme temperatures. It’s one solution to our cultural expectation that we show up in the summer without sweating, and showing up in a rain storm without being wet.Electric assist can eliminate sweating and rain gear is certainly an option in favor of a car-suit. But the car remains there as a temptation for an easy, if highly inefficient, solution to what should be considered a wardrobe problem.

Cultural norms and personal temptations will be moderated over time by the raising price of oil and growing awareness that we should conserve this resource for conditions where no reasonable alternatives are known.

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