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By some estimates riding an electric bike could help you burn 400 calories an hour under the proper conditions. So it is clear that getting on your e-bike is a good way to shed unwanted fat.

Electric bikes are also fun. They can be a very enjoyable alternative to some car trips, and they sure beat spending all day indoors at a desk or watching Gunsmoke reruns on TNT. In fact one of the big benefits of choosing an electric bike as your medium, if you will, for weight loss, is that you are, perhaps, more likely to actually ride an e-bike then say run a mile or slide on lycra shorts and head to the local gym.

What follows are five tips to help you lose weight riding an electric bike. Also, it is always a good idea to see your doctor and ensure you’re fit enough for cycling. Your doctor may also be able to recommend dietary changes.

Tip No. 1: Your Diet Matters

To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you ingest. You can do this by increasing your physical activity — this is where riding an electric bike comes in — or reducing how much you eat.

You will probably be most successful if you do both — eating less and exercising more.

Eating less doesn’t, however, mean you have to be hungry. Often you can be just as full eating healthy foods like fruit and vegetables and avoiding processed foods, fast food, and fatty foods. You can speak with your doctor for specific dietary recommendations, and here are a few diet suggestions.

  • Eat four or more servings of fruit and vegetables daily.
  • Replace refined grains with whole grains.
  • Reduce fat intake, but do eat avocados and nuts.
  • Reduce or eliminate sugar.
  • Cut back on dairy products, since these cause inflammation.
  • Reduce meat consumption.

Tip No. 2: Aim to Lose 1 or 2 Pounds Each Week

“It may seem obvious to set realistic weight-loss goals. But do you really know what's realistic? Over the long term, it's best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “Generally to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular physical activity.”

For your electric bike weight-loss plan, take the Mayo Clinic’s advice and give yourself a reasonable weight-loss goal.

Tip No. 3: Ride for 300 Minutes

It is going to take more than a casual trip around the block to burn fat and lose weight. Our recommendation is that you try riding for about 300 minutes per week.

You should break your time up into three or four rides. If you commute to work, try taking your e-bike a couple times each week. If you watch the grandkids on the weekend take a two-hour ride through your local park system or greenbelt.

If you need to start with 45 minutes per week and build up to 300 minutes that is fine too.

“Electric bikes offer riders a high degree of control over the level of physical exertion required to ride, making them particularly helpful for anybody who would like to become more fit, but who may need to gradually and carefully ease into increased physical activity,” wrote Boris and Yevgeniy Mordkovich in Chapter 3 of The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.

Tip No. 4: Find Reasons to Ride

You will need motivation. If you’re going to ride your way to fitness, you will need a reason to get on your electric bike.

For example, you can commit to riding to the grocery store instead of driving. You’ll save money, improve the environment, and have a reason to ride. If you need almond milk, get on your e-bike. Want to pick up some cauliflower, zucchini, and eggplant for a Thai green curry? Get on your bike.

Maybe you have a family vacation coming up at the beach. Imagine your fit, thin self wiggling your toes in the sand as you pose for a group photo. Think of how good you will look on Facebook. Or imagine the opposite. How will it be if you don’t lose the weight? Your picture will still end up on Facebook, there will just be more of you.

Tip No. 5: Ride Year Around

Fitness is a year around activity. Many folks ride electric bikes in all sorts of weather and at all sorts of temperatures. Be one of these folks. You may need a little extra gear, and you will want to make sure you plan your rides, but don’t be afraid to ride in all sorts of weather.

Electric bikes will be given more access to U.S. public lands. That was the U.S. Department of Interior's August 2019 directive to the various land-managing agencies it oversees. But what exactly does that mean for e-bike riders?

As Noa Banayan, federal affairs manager at People for Bikes, explains, it could mean different things for each class of electric bicycle at each individual park, dam, or recreation area. So while this is good news for the electric bike community, it is nuanced. Noa took a few minutes to explain this new policy on The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. You can listen to that podcast and follow along with the transcript below.

People for Bikes

Armando Roggio: In August, 2019, the US Department of Interior laid out a framework that could allow folks riding electric bicycles, greater access to public land. Including lands managed by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management. This could be great news for those of us who ride electric bikes.

My name is Armando Roggio and in this episode of The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO, we're going to speak with Noa Banayan, who is the federal affairs manager at People for Bikes. Noa, thank you so much for being with us.

Noa Banayan: Yes, thanks for having me.

Armando Roggio: Noa, would you tell us a little about yourself and then describe what you do for People for Bikes?

Noa Banayan: Sure. Well, my name's Noa. I am based in DC. I've been working in policy for three years now and about only the past six months have been with People for Bikes. I am our federal affairs manager, so I have the past six months been learning anything and everything that has to do with federal policies pertaining to bicycles. Bicycle funding, how States get funding from the federal government. And a lot of that has been on the recreation side too. So, figuring out where we're bikes are allowed on public lands and of course the distinction between conventional bikes and electric bikes.

Armando Roggio: What is your organization's purpose or what is People for Bikes, "reason to be", if you will?

Noa Banayan: Our goal is to make every bike ride better and to make it a better experience for all people who choose to ride their bikes. We are a trade association for the bicycle industry, so our membership on that side are, bike companies and bicycle product accessories, dealers, suppliers, retailers. But we also have a foundation that has ... we have a grassroots network of over a million supporters across the country and our foundation does a lot. We offer grants to small projects that relate to biking and more advocacy too.

Electric Bike Access

Armando Roggio: The work People for Bikes does, particularly advocating for bikes, is one of the reasons that I asked you to join us, Noa. As you well know, on August 30th the US Department of Interior released a memorandum related to electric bike usage. Would you please talk a little about that, describe what it is and then maybe start to speak about its impact?

Noa Banayan: Absolutely. So yes, on August 30th, the Department of Interior put out a secretarial order. Basically this order, coming from the secretary of himself, Secretary Bernhardt, was a directive to the land management agencies within the Department of Interior. And I'll get into, the agencies and their separate missions in a minute. But the directive was, here's a framework for increasing access for e-bikes on our public lands.

Here are the ways that you can discern access on different types of infrastructure, whether that's a bike lane on a road, in a national park, or a national surface singled trail within BLM. Regardless of where it is, here are the tools that we are offering you and the framework that we're offering for each of these land management agencies to create their own policies for access and to decide where and what kinds of e-bikes are allowed on their biking opportunities. And because that was coming from the secretary of interior, that was a directive to the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Armando Roggio: Maybe define or describe those agencies. What are the different sorts of lands they manage?

Noa Banayan: Sure. So National Park Service, of course, national parks all around. They actually came out with their own policy, their interim policy, the same day on August 30th, wanting to lead the charge on this. So of course, major public lands in national parks, there aren't a lot of mountain biking experiences necessarily. Not a lot of natural surface single track. A lot more roads, gravel roads, fire roads, things like that where you might have a mountain biking experience but a lot more paved trails that you'll find in national parks.

Bureau of Land Management is the other really big one for mountain biking, and if you talk to any mountain biker, they'll have their favorite BLM spot. There's a lot of natural surface single track opportunities and experiences that you can find in BLM lands and those are mostly out West. The Fish and Wildlife Service has national wildlife refuges with some biking opportunities, and the Bureau of Reclamation is mostly known in the and the biking community for their reservoirs and sort of rim trails around the reservoirs. Again, mostly out west where their bike infrastructure has been built.

Individual Policies

Armando Roggio: Each of these agencies needs to create policies for electric bikes. Would you talk about those policies and what someone who wants to ride an electric bike on public lands can expect.

Noa Banayan: Within the secretarial orders from August 30th, there was a brief timeline that they originally put out. So by September 12th, these agency had to at least begin the process of figuring out their interim policy, what is the law of the land until we go through a broader process. What that process looks like is up to each agency. And it really comes down to the land managers and the superintendents of these pieces of land. So superintendents for national parks, land managers for other public land units, and they have a lot of authority over these policies because one national park is going to be very different from another, same with any parcel of land and their BLM or Fish and Wildlife. So giving the authority to each local manager to discern what process would take place in their unit.

It's something that we've seen a lot of. Maybe not a lot, but at least several public lands units, especially within the park service, recently put out there. Let's see, I have a list here of some of them, I think Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Bryce Canyon, Acadia, they've all sort of put out some of their own policies to manage e-bike access and discern, "Well, maybe we want class ones and maybe class two and three, they're not going to be okay on this national surface. But class one is allowed." So, we are expecting probably within the next few days to see what these finalized processes will look like, where there's going to be opportunity for public comment because part of the secretarial order was ensuring that these policies are subject to public notice and comment. And that's really important to us too. And in that we definitely spent a lot of these advocates and companies that wants to do right by their riders.

So making sure that the folks who actually are going to be writing in those areas, the local mountain biking community or e-biking community, I'm sure that will be a growing thing too in these days, has their opportunity to weigh in and say, "Well, we think class one would be awesome on this surface, but maybe not class two and three." But gravel road, it's a bit wide. We can put them all out there. There's more room and so that's the process we're in right now. We know that land managers and these agencies are busy collecting a lot of information from lots of their local communities, their riders, their local advocacy groups. Demoing e-bikes even. You have to ride an e-bike to know what it's all about. Right? So that's where we're at right now.

Electric Bike Class Recognized

Armando Roggio: Noa, it's interesting as you mentioned, the electric bike classes, -- class one, class two and class three -- that these definitions were recognized by the Department of Interior, is that correct?

Noa Banayan: Yep, they were.

Armando Roggio: You mentioned that some agencies are trying to decide when a class two electric bike will be allowed access to a given trail. Now, primarily the difference, as the listeners of our podcasts probably know, is that the class two electric bike has a throttle.

Now, many if not most, class two electric bikes are not some kind of commercial vehicle, but rather riders, many riders, especially new riders or riders with physical limitations or even older riders choose class two because it's easier to start from a dead stop and then pedal once the bike is moving. Or it can be a safety mechanism, if you get tired or if you get injured. In fact, limiting someone to class one when that's the only difference might be a form of age discrimination, right? So your organization, People for Bikes, are you trying to communicate with these agencies and explain some of the subtle differences that might not be perfectly clear from a technical definition of the classes?

Noa Banayan: Absolutely. We've been engaged in what has really been a public process for almost five years now. Each of these land management agencies, they know about e-bikes, they know there are people that want to ride them and they know that they require a certain amount of nuance and understanding how they work, where they make sense and who is using them. We have been participating in these round tables with several of these agencies alongside a lot of our partners and advocacy mainly to offer technical assistance and understanding the three different class systems, because it can get a little complicated if you're new to the e-bike world. And making sure that land managers that want to demo these bikes, have the opportunity. So we've even put on some demo events over the past few years.

Not the Wild West

Armando Roggio: That letter you sent to agencies, I believe you shared a copy with me too. It had some recommendations. Do you want to mention those?

Noa Banayan: Sure. And I'll just clarify. The letter I had shared with you is something we sent early August before this policy was announced. This was just to make our position clear as we had heard that this policy was something that would be coming soon from the Department of Interior. So, right. So we sent a letter up to Secretary Bernhardt, as well as the Forest Service, which you'll note I haven't been talking about. Forest Service falls under the Department of Agriculture. So while there's fantastic recreation opportunities in Forest Service land, it doesn't apply to this policy. So while that's a separate issue, our position doesn't necessarily change between DOI and then the US Forest Service. So, right. So, that letter that we sent up is just clarifying our position at the federal level, clarifying what we had been advocating for at the state level for the past five years or so too. And so trying to keep that consistent as to where we believe e-bikes should go on federal public lands.

Armando Roggio: So this new policy or new framework for electric bike policies, it clearly doesn't allow complete access to public lands. You can't just go out and start riding across the wilderness, right?

Noa Banayan: Right. I guess I've been so focusing on what the policy does, say it is really important in this specific issue to talk about what it doesn't say and what it doesn't mean. Because you're right, there has been a lot of misinformation, and I think there was a big media frenzy right after the announcement. Basically just saying that, "E-bikes are going to be allowed on all public lands everywhere right now." Which couldn't be farther from the truth. I stand by how I explained it before, that secretarial order was a directive. It provided a framework. It didn't say, "Okay, now the Grand Canyon is fully open to e-bikes, all classes, right now."

And so a part of what we've been doing in the past 30 days or so is making sure that distinction is very clear because it is pretty nuanced. Makes it harder to describe, but I think makes it really important so that all the sensitivities that come with mountain biking access and e-mountain bikes, and e-bikes are heard and considered. And part of the conversation.

Environmental Impacts

Armando Roggio: Noa, you mentioned the media coverage around this directive. One aspect of that coverage is centered around environmental impact. Some have argued that allowing electric mountain bikes, for example, on some trails will harm the environment. Did you want to speak to that a bit?

Noa Banayan: I can talk a little bit to that, sure. So we have ... and I can share them with you, but on our e-bikes information page in our website, we have links to some studies that have been done that have addressed that that concern, at least for class one e-bikes and e-mountain bikes. And basically the findings were that that class one e-mountain bikes don't have impacts to the natural surface, to the trails themselves, environmental impacts that are different from a conventional bike. I recently heard it referred to as an acoustic bike instead of an electric bike. And I also really like that distinction. So I keep thinking of that, but that's what those studies have found.

I think we can all agree that more studies wouldn't hurt, especially as it comes to class two and three and even more than the environmental impact, but the social impacts. And what is it like to have a trail where there are lot of e-bikes and e-mountain bikes even where conventional bikes have only been allowed for the past so many years. So we're definitely supportive of more information there. But for now our concerns are more on the social impacts than the environmental impacts, at least as it relates to class one.

Social Impacts

Armando Roggio: So what are some of the social impacts? Are these concerns about congestion? Or are there concerns about speed? What are the social impacts?

Noa Banayan: Yeah, I think that's what most people would say. Especially, your hardcore public lands bikers and mountain bikers. The idea that something might be passing you that has more power than maybe your legs alone does. I guess, it's a change. It's a shifting paradigm of how we ride on our public lands. I mean, I'll tell you from someone who has ridden an e-bike in these places and conventional bikes, it's not that different. It's really not. And congestion I understand is a concern. But I ride the C&O canal trail starting in Washington DC almost every weekend. And I don't see a lot of e-bikes on there to be honest. But it is a national park. It is very congested already, but that's pedestrians and cyclist alone.

So class one doesn't go above 20 miles an hour, and class two we know also maxes out at 20 miles an hour. With the throttle of course might be a little shocking to see someone move on a bike that isn't peddling.

But I don't think that's going to knock anyone off their bike. Class three maxes out at 28 miles an hour. And these are all speeds that anyone who regularly rides a bike can reach. Maybe 28's a little on the high end, but at least 20 miles an hour. You're on a flat roadway or going down a hill, you can reach that on your own. So I don't think that there will be a huge social impact when it comes to putting e-bikes where they make sense in our public lands.

Electric Bike Benefits

Armando Roggio: Noa, you mentioned that a strong or maybe just a good cyclist can reach 20 miles per hour or more without a motor. One of the great benefits I think of an electric bike is that it can be a leveler. You can find a balance between riders. I had been on rides or with riders where I might be the strongest one in the group, and I was able to turn down or turn off the pedal assistance, and we all rode together enjoying each other's company. And I have been the weakest rider, so that I had to turn up the pedal assistance to keep up. What do you think about that idea? What are some of the other benefits of an electric bike and do we include different social groups with electric bikes with this sort of policy we've been discussing?

Noa Banayan: Absolutely. And I think that's one of the things we're most excited about, is opening up access to these incredible public lands, basic riding experiences and landscapes that so many people wouldn't have access to without a little boost in their pedal.

E-bikes, they're the fastest growing sector of the bike industry and the main purchaser of an e-bike, the demographics, are baby boomers. So knowing that our baby boomers are either ditching a car or deciding to go further into a national park or a public land near them, they're getting more exercise. That's awesome. They're staying active. They're helping actually reduce congestion in parts where traffic may have been really heavy near a trail head or a visitor center by being able to go a little bit further without having to worry about having the energy or the ability to make it back. So being able to expand these opportunities so grandma can come for the ride, or a person who might not be able to push a bike in normal way.

Like you were saying, class two, the throttle makes it great for folks who might not be able to just get it started for whatever reason. We think that it is expanding those opportunities and creating more access for great rides is so important. And that's what e-bikes are really for. I mean if you just want to go fast, that's great too. We don't have any problem with that, but knowing that more people are going to get out in our public lands, experience why they're so special because of an e-bike. I think that's the best story out there.

Armando Roggio: This may sound funny, but I think an industry can make you feel good about what you do. And I think the electric bike industry is one of those. We are helping folks reduce car trips, enjoy the outdoors and stay relatively more healthy. It's just a good feeling to be involved with electric bikes. I hope you agree with that.

Noa Banayan: I sure do. I wouldn't still be here if I didn't, but I fully agree. Yeah. I think so many people are seeing our public lands through their nose pressed against the window of their car. And e-bikes are going to be the thing that changes that so you can actually smell the air around you and feel what's so special about them.

An Ongoing Effort

Armando Roggio: You've really given us a good overview of this framework and some of the resulting policies. Are there any things that I haven't asked about that are important for the listeners to know about this directive?

Noa Banayan: Sure, yeah. So like I said, this is an ongoing process. E-bike access opened up on August 30th on all public lands. And it's still going to take some time for your local BLM unit or your favorite national park to figure out exactly where and how bikes are going to have access in their lands. If you want to stay updated on how that process moves and be able to offer your input. I highly recommend checking out our website at PeopleforBikes.org, all one word. And signing up to stay alert on e-bikes. We have a specific e-bike news list that we've been updating with these announcements and as we hear from more parks units and other lands units, we'll be making sure that our lists are aware of opportunities they have to use their voice to talk about e-bikes.

And I just want to again highlight, it's awesome that the government's coming around to something that is being used and being integrated into so many of our lives with e-bikes. The fact that we are finally getting the federal definition as it relates to access right now, all of we've got before this policy was the consumer safety product commissions definition of an e-bike, which has nothing to do with where can anybody go. So this first step in making access more available to more people on bikes, it's not something we should take lightly and it's certainly something we're excited about and excited to see how it goes.

Armando Roggio: Noa, thank you so much for being on the podcast with me.

Noa Banayan: Thanks so much for having me.

Armando Roggio: I also want to thank you for listening to this, The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. I hope you learned something about this new US Department of Interior directive, and I hope you'll continue to pay attention to the policies impacting electric bikes. I would also like you to check out The Complete Electric Bike Buyer's Guide on the EVELO website. While you are there you can also get a free bike, fit consultation. Thank you again. Take care.

The automobile has driven (pun intended) progress in America at least since the first Model A Ford rolled off of the production line on October 20, 1927. There is also little doubt that cars and trucks will continue to be the most popular form of transportation in the United States for the foreseeable future. But that hasn’t stopped some folks from trying to reduce the number of car trips they take.

In fact, many shoppers purchase an electric bike or an electric trike because they want an inexpensive, healthy, and environmentally friendly way to replace short car trips.

The movement toward reducing automobile trips has also created a new sort of vehicle that is not exactly an electric trike, not quite a velomobile, but still and intriguing car alternative.

If you want to learn more, listen to this episode of The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. You can also follow along with the transcript below.

Armando: If an electric bike had a crazy, nerdy cousin, it might be a pedal-assisted velomobile or minicar. These unusual vehicles combine electric bike components with a car's protective body, windshield and other systems. A great example a velomobile or minicar is the PEBL from Better Bike, a Massachusetts-based company that's trying to popularize these environmentally-friendly, fun-to-use alternatives to the car.

Well, this is The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO, and my name is Armando Roggio. In this episode we're going to meet Nevin Murray, who is the co-founder and chief operating officer at Better Bike, and Erin Cotter Cartwright, who is the marketing director at Better Bike. Nevin and Erin, welcome to the podcast. Erin: Thank you.

Nevin: Thank you.

Just Heading To High School

Armando: Let's start by talking about Better Bike. What was the impetus for the company? Why make a velomobile, minicar like the PEBL?

Nevin: So, Better Bike originally started as a side project. I was a freshman in high school, and I was looking at the seniors in high school, I was watching them drive cars. On one hand, I was super jealous. I really wanted to have that level of freedom but, on the other hand, I was conscious of the environmental impact that that was having and this contradiction between... I was learning, in school, about climate change and about the climate crisis, while on the other hand passively going about life as normal.

Ideally, I wanted an electric car, that was out of the price range at the time, and I was looking at all these other alternatives online. There were a bunch of cool velomobiles but, being a self-conscious high schooler, I really wanted something that I thought looked cool and wasn't super low to the ground, as well. Would fit all my school stuff, my stuff for track practice. I started playing around with taking these concepts and doing some drawings. Eventually, I went to my dad. Both of us, we like doing projects together, we were very mechanically inclined, I was working as a bike mechanic at the time, and we said, "Well, why don't we try to make one?" This was just as a one-off, basically, for me to be able to ride to school.

We spent about a year researching and prototyping. I think it was maybe a year and a half until we finished our first one. It was super cool, it worked mostly how we wanted it to. Obviously, there were a bunch of tweaks that we would make later on. But then, at that point, my dad, Kevin, he decided that he liked this so much that he wanted one, so we built a second one. At that point, we were completely sold on the idea of the PEBL, we started to realize the potential possibility that it had, and we decided to go into business. We ended up making three more prototypes after that, and then we launched a Kickstarter campaign, which brought us into our production facility. Six years on from the beginning, but three years after the Kickstarter, this is where we are today.

A Cool Startup

Armando: Erin, how did they draw you in?

Erin: I actually got the job because one of my good friends was working for the company before she started graduate school this semester. She called me and told me that she'd just gotten a job at this cool startup that was local to us, and that they also needed a second person. It was exactly the kind of job that I was looking for. I interviewed with Nevin the next week, and I've been with the company ever since.

Armando: So, Erin, did the job come with a PEBL? Do you ride one to work?

Erin: I don't, sadly, but we do have a PEBL in our warehouse that is available to the staff to use. I have definitely driven it, and gone around and done some of my marketing with it. It's really fun to drive, and that has definitely been one of the perks of the job, having a PEBL available to me.

What is the PEBL?

Armando: Maybe you can both address this, but a moment ago I referred to riding a PEBL. Erin, I think you said, and maybe it was a way to correct me, driving a PEBL. Do we think of it as a bike, as a microcar, a velomobile? What is the proper terminology for a PEBL?

Nevin: Right. It's a good question. We actually switch back between the two, riding and driving. What we're looking for right now is the term that everyone will know a microcar, e-trike by in the future. Currently, we call it a microcar-e-rike because it combines what it is: it's an e-trike, but it is also a microcar. So, right now, we switch back and forth between ride or drive, and we're perfectly fine using either one.

Armando: So, this is not a perfect answer, but I suppose that one distinction could be whether or not you have to pedal. Again, this is not perfect because, for example, the EVELO Compass is an electric trike. It looks like a trike. It rides like a trike, but has a throttle, you don't always have to pedal. I believe that is true of the PEBL too. It has a throttle. Correct?

Nevin: Yeah, that's right. You don't have to pedal. It has its own throttle, it has cruise control, exterior lighting. It has its own little trunk, windshield wiper, heater. That's what puts in a different category from a velomobile or, I guess, any e-trike, is that it has its own throttle and it has all the other similar basic features to a car that make it usable on roads 99 percent of the time.

Legal Status

Armando: How does the government classify the PEBL? We just spoke about it not being quite an electric trike, it's not quite a velomobile, it is sort of a minicar. If it was an electric trike, having a throttle would make it a class 2 electric bike, but how does the government classify it?

Nevin: You want to take that, Erin?

Erin: Yeah. I actually have been doing quite a bit of research on that lately because I'm getting a lot of inquiries from out clients. Right now, it really does vary state to state because velomobiles and e-bikes like ours are pretty recent on the market. It's something that states are gaining out on their own, but we do typically fall into a class 2. I know that in Washington state, we're a class 2, in a lot of New England states, we are, but right now there isn't really one uniform federal law classifying velomobiles or e-bikes like the PEBL. It really is state to state, but is something that we're obviously researching for our clients before they purchase to make sure that everything is on the up-and-up.

Armando: Sure, that makes sense. So, on a one-by-one, customer-by-customer basis, you're helping them to know how the PEBL is classified where they ride. You're probably guiding them regarding what they need to do to meet local requirements.

Erin: Exactly.

Nevin: Correct.

Erin: Yeah.

Nevin: In almost every state, it's considered an e-bike. In those states where they have started to split it up into the three-tier classification, it's, "What tier does it fit into?" and it's usually the second tier. It's rare that there's a state that this doesn't fit into some type of e-bike classification.

Erin: Exactly.

Armando: So, in most places it would not need a special license, it wouldn't need tags, and I could still drive or ride the PEBL on the roads. Is that correct?

Erin: Yes. There are some states that require people to at least have a learner's permit to operate it, but we have not encountered a single state that's required it to be licensed like a car.

PEBL Safety

Armando: What about safety? Are there safety concerns when you're riding or driving a PEBL in traffic, and what do drivers think of it?

Nevin: That's a good question.

Erin: Yeah.

Nevin: It's a main feature. We actually consider the PEBL to be safer than a traditional bike, from our experience over these past six years riding it on public roads. We find that cars typically treat the PEBL with more respect than they would a typical bike.

For instance, say you have a situation where cars are coming from both directions and you're on the side of the road. The car behind you, we find, will, much more of the time, wait to pass you before the other car from the other side passes. That combined with the fact that you're fully enclosed so you have a protective shell, and you have all of the same lighting that a car would have, from our experience we've found it's much safer.

Erin: I would say that I agree. I've heard from a lot of our clients, when I ask for feedback, that the fact that the PEBL has headlights the way a car does, as Nevin said, does make drivers look at the PEBL differently than they would a traditional bicycle, and they do give it a bit of a wider berth than they would otherwise. We have heard from many people that they feel perfectly confident and secure driving it on the road.

Nevin: Right, and then there's the visibility aspect, as well. It's presence is much different and much more substantial than a bike, so you'll be in less of situation where cars won't see you when they're taking a left-hand turn; similar situation that motorcycles have. The PEBL has a presence, so they're able to spot you much easier.

Better for the Environment

Armando: Earlier, Nevin, you mentioned that when you were building the prototype with your dad, or maybe it was even when you became interested in building a velomobile to begin with, protecting the environment was part of your motivation. Would you both speak a little bit about how car alternatives like the PEBL, like the electric bikes we build at EVELO, protect the environment? Maybe even talk about why that's important.

Nevin: Sure.

Erin: Yeah.

Nevin: It comes down to the amount of cars on the road and what you're doing rather than driving. Compared to a car, the PEBL gets around 1,000 mpg, equivalent. I don't know what a bike gets. It definitely gets even more than that, but the PEBL is extremely efficient and that goes for all e-bikes in general. So, you're just simply not using as much energy going place to place, when you're using this alternative transportation as you are in a car; you're towing around 3,000 lbs of extra weight with you. The PEBL weighs 300 lbs, so it's a tenth of the weight, basically. The PEBL is meant for more urban environments, shorter commutes, so you're not accelerating to the same types of speeds. There's more efficiency built in there. You're not wasting as much energy accelerating and decelerating. That's really the main thing. Erin, do you want to add to that?

Ride Sharing a PEBL

Erin: Yeah. In terms of our long-term goals, as well, for our environmental impact, right now, myself and our sales director are working on potential ride share programs with the PEBL. We do have one thing that's going on right now with a local town where we're in talks with the government municipality about selling them a fleet of PEBLs that they would then rent out to their citizens, the way Citi Bike is doing in New York City and elsewhere, to allow people in their town to use their cars less but to still have a reliable mode of transport that they can get their groceries or their prescriptions in. That's also something that we want to expand to college campuses or campgrounds so that, in multiple places where we congregate and usually bring our cars to get to, we can now cut out some of that by having the PEBL available instead.

So, if you are going to a college somewhere and you bring a car with you, and you're driving through campus in the town that your college is in, emitting all of these toxins into the atmosphere, we're hoping to have alternative options on college campuses, eventually, where a student doesn't have to bring their car and can just rely on a solar-charged PEBL instead.

Armando: Oh wow, and solar charged. Is that the case for the current PEBLs?

Erin: It is an option on the PEBL to have the solar roof, and we do have quite a few customers who are going with it. It seems to be something where the last, I'd say, half dozen of our clients already have solar panels on their roof, so they're looking to add the PEBL and they already have all of the materials and the charging dock necessary for it. So the solar roof is one of our most popular features, yes.

Armando: So, learning that you're trying to make the PEBL the Uber, if you will, of alternative transportation ride sharing, I'm wondering about how many are in service. It's been a few years since the Kickstarter project, I hope you don't mind that I ask, but are you selling hundreds of PEBLs or dozens?

Erin: At this point, we're in the dozens but, with our new ride share programs that we're looking to do, we're hoping to expand and have that number raised quite substantially. That's really, I would say, Nev, a goal of ours.

Nevin: Yeah, that, and we have a couple of other potential initiatives, as well, for multi-user use cases. Right now, we're still early stages, in the dozens, but looking to be in the hundreds by this time next year and expanding even more after that.

Can I Have One?

Armando: So, maybe this is a positive sign: as I was preparing for the podcast, I asked some of our product development and customer service folks if they had any questions they wanted me to ask you about the PEBL, and there are really two questions. One, I've asked already, which was about safety. The other question was this: “can I have one?”

Nevin: We'll work on it. Soon they can rent it.

Erin: Yeah.

Armando: I suppose, if I try to translate a question like, "can I have one?" into something we can ask on this podcast, it is really a question about why the product, why the PEBL, might be desirable. I know, at EVELO, we ask every person who makes a purchase why they bought, and we want to understand what helped them make that choice. Was it quality, great customer service, a great warranty? What is that for the PEBL? Give us the elevator pitch for the PEBL.

Erin: When somebody calls me and says, "I'm looking for an alternative transport, why should it be the PEBL?" I often say that, first of all, it's really fun to drive. It's cute, but also, on top of that, it's just a good product: the back hatch opens up into a trunk where you can fit six to eight bags of groceries; it has a back seat; it has the potential for 100 miles of range on a charge, and; it's efficient while not being too over-the-top. For me, alternative transport isn't meant to be like a car, where we want the newest, flashiest, fastest model. We want the thing that accomplishes what we need it to, but without all of the negative side effect of a car or a gas-emitting vehicle.

That's what I really like about the PEBL, is that it's not a thing where you're like, "Okay. Well, I guess I'll settle for a PEBL because I want to be greener." It's something that you're happy to switch to, and something that excites you about doing your part to try to limit your emissions. That's what I really find to be the best thing about the PEBL, is that nobody ever really finds that they're settling for that by going green. They're actually excited to make the switch to the PEBL.

Armando: That makes sense. We hear that a lot at EVELO. It is not a compromise, you ride it and love it, it's a lot of fun, and the PEBL looks like a lot of fun too. I watched a little video you had on YouTube where someone was driving a PEBL past a Road Closed sign, and it just looks like they were heading for a fun little adventure.

Erin: That was me! Oh yeah, that was me. That was really fun. That was earlier this year. I think the reason why we did that was because I went from a paved road onto a dirt road to really show the versatility of the PEBL. We do also have to off-road switch, which boosts the PEBL up to 1,500 watts. A lot of people get that if they're going to be driving around their property or off-road, things like that. It's a pretty popular thing. That video was fun because we got to show how the PEBL can do more than just paved roads.

Year Around Transportation

Armando: I'm enjoying learning about the PEBL and your company. Are there some things that I have not asked about or mentioned that you want to share with our audience?

Erin: I know that I wanted to quell some fears of any potential customers out there. I get a lot of inquiries from people towards the end of the year saying, "I really want a PEBL, but I think I'll wait till the spring because it's about to be cold out," but the PEBL is actually able to be driven in all weathers. We're in New England, and both Nevin and his dad drive their PEBL all through the year. You can get the heater installed, the doors fully close, so there's never a bad time to buy a PEBL.

Armando: Makes a lot of sense. I very much appreciate having you on the podcast. Thank you for joining me.

Erin: Thank you for having us.

Nevin: Yeah, thank you so much for having us.

Armando: I also want to thank you, the person listening to this, The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. I hope that you enjoyed learning about the PEBL, and learning, perhaps, a bit more about alternative transportation generally.

This podcast is really for you. We want you to find it interesting, entertaining and useful, so I want to know what you want to know. I want you to tell me what topics I should cover on the podcast. To do that, send an email to contact@evelo.com. Let me know what you want to hear about.

I also want you to go to evelo.com. Take a look at our Free Fit Consultation, it'll help you decide which bike's the right fit. Look at The Complete Electric Bike Buyer's Guide. You can buy that on Amazon or you can get it for free on our site. Nice, right?

I hope you enjoyed this episode. Take care until next time

Electric bikes are booming. People of all ages from a 20-something commuter in Seattle to an 85-year-old grandma in Massachusetts are enjoying the benefits of owning and riding an e-bike. In fact, you should probably own one already too.

“A certain subset of masochistic cycling purists believe that you should suffer any time you set out on a bike,” wrote Ashley Mateo in a June 2019 The Wall Street Journal article.

“And while there’s a time and a place for that — with punishingly vivid Spandex and clicking shoes to complete the picture,” Mateo continued, “most people just want to get from point A to point B in the fastest, easiest manner possible.”

“Perhaps that’s why sales of electric-assist bicycles, which use motors and lithium batteries to boost your power and speed as you pedal, jumped 91 percent from 2016 to 2017,” Mateo wrote.

Easy Transportation

“Increasingly, people around the world are turning to electric bikes as an effective solution for their day-to-day transportation needs, which might include such trips as commuting to and from work or school, grocery shopping, short errands, or going out for social events,” wrote Boris Mordkovich and Yevgeniy Mordkovich in chapter three of The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.

EVELO customers have experienced this first hand. There are more than a few octogenarians, as an example, who use their Compass trikes as a car alternative. The electric trike is stable, plenty fast, and has the carrying capacity for regular trips to the store.

The Compass electric trike is a great example of easy transportation.
 

Save Money

In the United States, the typical car trip is six miles or less. If that is true for you, many if not all of those automobile trips could be managed with an electric bike.

“On average, an electric bike allows you to go much further for much less money than any other form of transportation. In fact, one study found that an electric bike can travel as far as 500 miles on just $1—roughly 100 times further than a car or public transportation, and 35 times further than a hybrid car,” according to The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.

In contrast a car or truck will take you less than two miles for a dollar.

Enjoyment

Riding an electric bike is fun. You’ll experience the joy of being outside, getting some exercise, and spending time with friends and loved ones.

An electric bike, for example, can be a great equalizer. It allows a grandmother to keep up with scurrying grandchildren. And it let’s a father make a century ride with his much-more-fit daughter.

Convenience

Electric bikes can also be a convenient form of transportation for RV and boat owners.

Perhaps, you have just driven a thousand miles in your RV. You now have the perfect spot overlooking a lake in south Georgia. You want to get out and explore, but you don't want to have to drive your motorhome everywhere you go.

An electric bike, is a great option. The bike will fit easily on your RV, and once you’re parked, it will help you explore.

Health and Fitness

“Along with using an electric bike for day-to-day transportation, many cyclists use electric bikes specifically as a means of working out and becoming more fit. Electric bikes offer riders a high degree of control over the level of physical exertion required to ride, making them particularly helpful for anybody who would like to become more fit, but who may need to gradually and carefully ease into increased physical activity,” wrote the Mordkovich brothers.

There is also a significant amount of science showing that electric bikes contribute to health and fitness. Among the benefits of riding an electric bike are:

  • Improved heart health,
  • Strengthened cardiovascular system,
  • Improved immune responses,
  • Less risk of type-2 diabetes,
  • Weight loss,
  • Reduced stress.
With all of these reasons if you don’t yet own and electric bike, you probably should.

Improbable in its form and unlikely in its function, an electric folding bike can be a convenient recreational ride. It can help you master intermodal transportation, and a folding bike may encourage personal well being.

There is a sense in which an electric folding bicycle is a transportation platypus.

The platypus is something of an unlikely animal. In a similar way, folding bikes can be an oddity. But both the platypus and the folding e-bike are surprisingly functional. Photo by by Prioryman.

 

“The first scientists to examine a specimen believed they were the victims of a hoax. The animal is best described as a hodgepodge of more familiar species: the duck (bill and webbed feet), beaver (tail), and otter (body and fur),” according to National Geographic.

In a similar way, some have wondered “why own a folding bike?” or “are folding bikes worth it?” Of course, the answer to these questions will be subjective. It will depend on how one rides, why one rides, and who that rider is. In spite of this subjectivity, there are, perhaps, at least three good reasons to consider a folding electric bike or even a folding conventional bicycle.

 

Mastering Intermodal Transportation

Folding electric bikes are excellent for intermodal commuting.

Let’s imagine that you live on Staten Island but work in Manhattan. Each morning, your loving spouse drives you down Carson Avenue to Victory Boulevard, takes a left turn on Bay Street, and drops you off at the St. George Ferry Terminal in time for the 7:00 am ferry.

You pull your Quest One folding electric bike out of the trunk, unfold it (which is easier than lugging it), and wheel it to the ferry. Some 25 minutes later, you pedal out of the Whitehall Terminal headed toward Water Street.

At work, you push the Quest One into the building and take the elevator up to the fifth floor. Your Quest One folds into a neat square and is tucked under the side draw in your cubicle.

If this was Metropolis, there should be a red “S” stamped on your folding bike, because it just did a super job of getting you to work.

Convenient Recreational Bicycling

A folding bike’s best trick is that it will fit in places a conventional bicycle will not. So you can keep a folding electric bike in a car trunk. It can be stuffed under a desk. It fits more easily in a small boat and in a recreational vehicle (RV). In short, a folding bike can make recreational riding more convenient. When something is more convenient, we tend to do it more often.

Personal Well Being

The last point above about convenience should not be understated. In fact, it bears repeating. When something like riding a bicycle is made easier or more convenient, we are more likely to do it.

One of the many benefits of an electric bike, for example, is that it encourages physical activity. “Whether it’s used as a vehicle for your daily commute or more specifically as a means of working out, an electric bike helps contribute to a more fit, active, and well-balanced lifestyle,” wrote Boris Mordkovich and Yevgeniy Mordkovich in chapter three of The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.

“Introducing an electric bike into your regular travel transforms your daily commutes into an opportunity for some light physical activity and a chance to catch some fresh air. Electric bikes are particularly well suited for daily commuting since the motor assistance helps eliminate challenges such as steep hills and headwinds, and creates a smoother, less demanding cycling experience. By using an electric bike, commuters no longer have to worry about arriving at their destination feeling tired, sweaty, or worn out—the bike’s motor takes care of the overly strenuous portions of the ride while still allowing you to mix some physical exercise into your daily routine.”

Thus, the third good reason you should consider a folding electric bike is that it may encourage you to ride more. In turn, riding more could improve your well being.

 

The U.S. Department of Interior’s National Park Service clarified its position regarding riding electric bikes in national parks in a memorandum released August 30, 2019.

“E-bikes are allowed where traditional bicycles are allowed,” the National Park Service (NPS) wrote.

National Parks Open to Electric Bikes

With the release of this memorandum, electric bike riders know with certainty that they may use their e-bikes for recreation or transportation in U.S. national parks.

In fact, electric bikes will be treated in the same way as conventional bicycles. Thus, if a traditional bicycle may be ridden on a given trail, an electric bicycle is permitted too.

Electric bikes will be treat just like traditional bicycles for U.S. national park access. Photo from the NPS.

 

In the same way, if a traditional bicycle is not allowed — in a wilderness area for example — an electric bike is also prohibited. All national park superintendents will now treat electric bikes just like traditional bicycles.

“Bicycling is an excellent way for visitors to Federal lands to experience America's rich natural heritage,” wrote David Bernhardt, U.S. Secretary of the Interior. “Bicycling has been popular in America since the early nineteenth century. Since then, innovation in the design and production of bicycles has dramatically increased mechanical efficiency, opening bicycling to a greater number of people in a larger number of environmental and geographical conditions.”

“A relatively recent addition to the design of some bicycles is a small electric motor which can provide an electric power assist to the operation of the bicycle. Reducing the physical demand to operate a bicycle has expanded access to recreational opportunities.”

The NPS memo said that the organization would use existing federal guidelines to define electric bicycles.

Electric Bike Benefits

“As more Americans are using e-bikes to enjoy the great outdoors, national parks should be responsive to visitors’ interest in using this new technology wherever it is safe and appropriate to do so,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith. Electric bikes “make bicycle travel easier and more efficient, and they provide an option for people who want to ride a bicycle but might not otherwise do so because of physical fitness, age, disability, or convenience, especially at high altitudes or in hilly or strenuous terrain.”

 

Electric bikes will make it possible for more Americans to enjoy national parks.

 

Smith’s comment supports what many in the electric bike industry have been saying for sometime. Specifically, e-bikes are levelers that allow more rides, especially baby boomers, to enjoy bicycling and its numerous health benefits.

“Electric bikes offer riders a high degree of control over the level of physical exertion required to ride, making them particularly helpful for anybody who would like to become more fit, but who may need to gradually and carefully ease into increased physical activity,” wrote Boris Mordkovich and Yevgeniy Mordkovich in chapter three of The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.

Furthermore, electric bicycles have been shown to have many health benefits, including:

Healthy Parks Healthy People

The NPS also said allowing electric bikes was consistent with its Healthy Parks Healthy People program that “aims to bring about lasting change in American’s lifestyle choices and their relationship with nature and the outdoors.” Specifically, permitting e-bikes to be used in national parks would:
  • “Increase bicycle access to and within parks,”
  • “Expand the option of bicycling to more people,”
  • “Mitigate environmental impacts” when visitors use e-bikes instead of gas-powered vehicles.

“E-bikes advance Healthy Parks Healthy People goals to promote parks as a health resource by supporting a healthy park experience that is accessible, desirable, and relatable to people of all abilities, and by minimizing human impact through the expansion of active transportation options in parks,” the NPS memorandum said.

Resources

Electric bicycles are an enjoyable part of alternative transportation. They can replace a trip you might otherwise take in a car, saving money and contributing to a better environment.

This week's podcast was an enjoyable conversation with Renée Moore. You will learn how Renée was introduced to bicycling and bicycle commuting, and hear something about the programs she manages which are meant to encourage bicycling. You can play the podcast and follow along with the transcript below.

Armando Roggio: Electric bikes are contagious. Once you have tried one, and conquered the worst hills in your neighborhood, it is natural to want to tell your friends about it.

You want them to experience the fun of riding an electric bike, or really any bike. Well, This is The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO and my name is Armando Roggio.

In this episode, we are going to be speaking with Renée more who is the program director for Bike Arlington in Virginia.

Renée thank you very much for being on the podcast with us.

Renée: Thanks for having me I'm excited to be here.

Renée Learned to Ride as an Adult

Armando Roggio: Renée how did you get started with bicycling and bicycle commuting?

Renée: I got started biking when I was 25. I didn't know how to ride a bike, I learned as an adult.

What happened was I would always see people biking and I thought that looks like fun, and because I never learned as a child I had never done it. And one Sunday at church there was a guy who asked me out on a date, and he said "what would you like to do?," and I said, " I want to learn how to ride a bike."

I don't even know if he knew how to ride a bike, I just sort of assumed that every adult knew how to ride a bike, except me.

So we went down to this place in D.C. ― I'm from originally D.C. We went down to Georgetown. We rented a bike, and he kind of like ran behind me as I got my balance, and in about an hour I was biking, and it kind of took off from there.

Riding for Fun

Renée: After I learned how to ride a bike I... There's a lot of stuff that happened to me. I ended up moving to Texas, and I did a half marathon there which I hated.

And then I decided I didn't want to do that again, and I met somebody... and she talked me into doing a triathlon because she said: "you get to do something different every 40 minutes, and you like to bike."

And I said, "but I don't like running, and I don't know how to swim." And she said "Oh, don't worry about that we teach you how to swim and all that" and they did. They taught me how to swim, and so I was pretty much like a new bicyclist slash triathlete for a long time.

And when I moved back home to D.C., I only road on a trail that had a couple of bike loops, but I had started because I wanted to ride with friends and people... With new people, everybody I had rode with had pretty much moved, and moved over twice after I came back from Texas.

Riding on Streets

Renée: I started this bike group and we were riding on trails. I had never ever considered using my bike as transportation ever that never dawned on me. And I took this class, a workshop called Black in the Night D.C.

And I went to that class because one of the people in my group had suggested it. It was about riding in the street, and riding at night, and riding in winter. Three things that I thought were absolutely insane to do. But I went and I sat in the back with anybody who made me look thirty. I sat in the back with my arms folded crossed across my chest I was a curmudgeon. I was like this is so dumb why would you ride in the street, and why would you ride at night, and why would you ride in the winter?

So they eventually got me on a bike at the end of the class, we rode and I thought. Wow, this isn't that bad at all I can ride in regular clothes. I don't have to buy any more spandex. This is kinda nice. And that's kinda what sold me was not having to buy any more spandex, and it took off from there.

That point what really did it actually I didn't immediately jump into biking in the street but what happened was my mom had a stroke a couple of months later. She was at this hospital, George Washington hospital, and it was $22 to park, and I was going up there every day. And I thought there's no way I'm going to spend $22 a day to park. I said "maybe I'll try to bike into instead, and I started biking up there every day to visit my mom, and it was therapeutic.

It really helped my kind of process what the next steps were gonna be when she got out of the hospital.

Connecting to the Community

Renée: I also discovered a lot of things about the city I grew up in that I never saw because I was always in a car driving past it. So it really opened my eyes to all the things that were in the city that I was passing up, and that I could go visit now because I could easily just pull up and you know park my bike, and go in, and go see it.

And from there I started working at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association as their women and bicycles coordinator. I had a few roles there. Now I'm at Bike Arlington in Arlington Virginia, and I'm the program manager.

Bicycle Advocacy

Armando Roggio: So you went from learning to ride a bike as an adult to being a triathlete to essentially working for a bike advocacy group. That is an impressive journey. Would you tell us a little bit more about how you got into the advocacy side of bicycling? Or maybe I should say how you got started promoting bicycling.

Renée: So what started at Washington Area Bicyclist Association or WABA, I don't think I really considered myself to be an advocate, I was just trying to get people on bikes. And I guess that's the whole point. I never said advocacy.

For my role, I went in as the women and bicycles coordinator, and the goal was to get more women on bikes. So my thing was to create short, fun rides to things, and it really wasn't about the bike or the ride it was really about the event, and you were going to get there by bike.

So I took a lot of time planning out the route and making sure that when we went on a route that sometimes we rode on a busy street, so people could see this is what it's like to be in traffic and be not in a car and just be on your bike. Or this is what it's like to be in a protected bike lane. What it's like to be on a trail.

Renée: I wanted to make it accessible so I always started the rides near bike share stations. So if someone didn't have a bike of their own they could get one from Capital Bikeshare. And we provided the coupons for that.

And that was really how I started, I guess I just never thought I was an advocate... It was advocacy. I just thought I was going to get people on bikes.

People would come to me — especially a lot of new people who wanted to ride, but they didn't want to ride in a big fast group of people. Or they didn't feel comfortable because they didn't have...a lot of lycra and spandex to put on, or they didn't have a really expensive car besides their bike. They rode with me because if you ever see my bike it's white, its got flowers all over it, its got, you know, a basket, it's like really...Clearly, when you see me I'm not going fast at all.

I think people were attracted to that, like oh I could ride with her because she's wearing heels and a dress. She's definitely not going anywhere fast, and I think that was appealing to a lot of people. Both men and women who would maybe go to some group and ride with them and find out this is a really fast advanced group. That may not wait for you.

This group we have no drops, we don't leave anyone behind. I go at an easy pace. I try to always make sure my routes are relatively flat. I can't always avoid that, but I do map it out and route it, and ride it myself to make sure that it's as flat as I can get it. Because that deters a lot of people when they see that there are hills all over the place. That was kind of how I started. I was not thinking I was an advocate. I just went into it like I just want to get more people riding bikes and thinking about it more. Hopefully, everyday recreation, if you can eliminate a car trip with using your bike.

Armando Roggio: That makes sense I had not realized that spandex was a barrier to getting folks on bicycles.

Renée: It just doesn’t look good on most people.

Armando Roggio: That's awesome. So obviously you have been doing this for a while with some success. You are now the program manager at Bike Arlington. Can you describe your role especially as it has changed from when you were working in Washington?

Renée: I started at Bike Arlington in March. So my role – as far as being in bicycling – it has changed since I have gone to that role.

I'm still doing a lot of rides with people. I'm trying to get more people in Arlington biking, and doing it in a fun creative ways. Saturday, we just did a pizza crawl. So we went to three different pizza places that sold pizza by the slice, and we did some streets, we did some with bike lanes, we did some trials, and they all experienced something new, and different, so that's kind of... I still do that, but I am also in charge of Bike to Work Day which is the third Friday of every May. And I'm trying to create and develop more interesting things for people to do.

Things with our Capital Bikeshare system, to get more people using that. And I work with some... I have some colleagues working together on that.

So it's somewhere just the same, but in other ways it is a little bit...It's the same and a little bit more, and it's also a new city that I'm working in. It's not very far from me because I grew up in the area, but I don't know that city, that county maybe as well as I know spots in D.C. where I grew up.

Armando Roggio: What is bike to work day? You said it was in May.

Renée: Yes, the third Friday in May here in the Washington area. Bike to Work Day usually brings out 20 thousand plus people who are biking to work, and we have pit stops all over the region where people can go and stop and they pick up juice and a T-shirt.

That's huge of course everyone wants the t-shirt, and it is a different color every year. So people have been collecting them since they started Bike to Work Day, and then we have... There's usually food, coffee, doughnuts, bananas, apples that kind of thing.

And we have a lot of vendors partners that come out with their things, and it ranges from all kinds of things.

This year I oversaw six pit stops across the Arlington county, and the biggest one was in a neighborhood, Rosslyn is what its called. You don't have cities in Arlington because I always want to call it a city and it's not. In Rosslyn, and we had a lawyer who specializes in just bike crashes because that's all he does. We had people who did physical therapy. We had a DJ. We had some of the people with electric scooters that were there. We had food vendors, and we had some bike advocates and just groups that went out just to bike. Kind of a mixture of all kinds of people that come out through the woods.

We partnered with the American Heart Association, or might be a friend of a certain trail. We had all of these people out there for that, and a lot of the vendors really look forward to it because it's a free event they don't have to pay to be a part of it, but it also exposes them to hundreds of people that they might not ever get to meet any other way except form Bike to Work Day.

Armando Roggio: Do you find the event introduces folks to bicycle commuting? Or is it really just a celebration of those folks who are already riding their bikes to work?

Renée: That's a great question we are trying to figure that out. It's a question that I've been asking since I even started doing this, and I don't know if we know.

The idea and the goal is that it’s a celebration of people that are already biking to work, and that it would bring out new people to commuting to work. I don't think they do quite know the separation. I don't know if we quite know that yet, but that's the question I'm always asking, and I'm like yeah new people, and it's the same people, and I'm thinking... There's nothing wrong with it, but I would like to see more new people coming and continuing, not just coming because we have this big event, but say, “hey, this is really nice. I'm not sitting in traffic and takes me less time, or maybe it takes you the same amount of time, but I'm outside. I'm in fresh air. I'm enjoying myself or whatever, it's so great, it makes my commute easier.”

I'm hoping that that's what happens that people do it and then they don't just bike to work on that third Friday in May. That they then bike to work on that following Monday, and however long they want to after that.

Bicycle Infrastructure

Armando Roggio: One thing that sometimes comes up in the context of bicycle commuting is infrastructure. How is the bicycling infrastructure in your area, and do you believe that infrastructure can be a barrier to getting started with bicycle commuting?

Renée: So I'm an anomaly actually. So I will tell you that I do...I grew up in D.C. when none of this was here, so I'm impressed with what happened.

There are other people here that would tell you that it needs so much more work to be done. I think a lot of it is great. My biggest issue when I have something to say about biking infrastructure is that it should connect to things. What I don't like to see is a bike lane that disappears, like you just have to pop up there, and then it just disappears two blocks latter because the bike lane is gone. Outside of that, I think that D.C. and Arlington has some really beautiful trails. They have some nice bike lanes. Are they perfect? No, but I grew up here when none of this was here. So I have a completely different perspective. I say to them – people who probably have been here for ten years, and seeing it progress or have come in the middle of it – I think what we have is pretty awesome considering none of this was here when I was little.

Safe Cycling

Armando Roggio: Great point. In many ways cycling infrastructure has improved tremendously.

Let's change direction with this a little bit. What about riders? What can we do to ride better in traffic, and maybe even make drivers feel more comfortable around us?

Renée: I think you should do what we teach riders in our city cycling class, obey the laws. Just following the laws of the road and the rules of the road. And so if there's a stop light, you stop. If there's a stop sign, you stop at it. You use hand signals so people know what you’re doing. So you're predictable basically. Just be predictable so people know what's happening when you're on the road.

I even — as someone who learned how to bike late in life and then learned even later in life to bike in traffic — I'm pretty comfortable now because one of the things that I learned is to take the lane, and so not to be afraid to be in the lane, and people will have to go around you.

You just be a slow-moving vehicle. I won't go on a highway and do that, but if I'm just on a regular street that's supposed to be moving at 25 miles an hour, I don't feel bad taking the lane, but what you don't want to do is kind of dart in and out of parked cars.

I see people do that sometimes and that's actually scary because cars don't know what you're doing. Are you pulling over to do something, and all a sudden you just come back into traffic. So that's confusing for car drivers. So I just say take the lane as far right as you can be without being in the zone of where somebody might open the door. The car door of the parked cars there, or not so far over in a place where there's debris and gravel where you can be hurt.

We are part of the public right of way traffic, and you have a right to be there. So that helped me a lot with biking is just obeying the rules of the road. My typical thing to think is if I wouldn't do it in a car, I probably shouldn't be doing it on my bike. So if I wouldn't run a red light in my car, I shouldn't run a red light on my bike. That's pretty much how I think that is as far as biking in the city.

Electric Bikes

Armando Roggio: So I happen to know that you used to be known, or maybe are still known as the “girl on a blue bike” on Twitter, but I understand that you now ride a white bike, and it is an e-bike. Can you tell us about your thoughts if you will around electric bicycles, and how do you think they help people get started on bikes, and on riding?

Renée: Wow, so I did have a blue bike. I'll try to explain that part. I had a blue bike named Olivia, and I loved her. She was awesome. And after I got it, I lived in a hilly area, I worked in a hilly area, and a few months or so after I bought that bike I heard about this e-kit called a Hill Popper, an electric assistant kit called a Hill popper.

And they said you could retrofit your bike with this, the wheel and the battery pack. So I took my bike in... I saved up for it, and I took my bike in, and they put it on, and it made a world of difference in my biking.

Now I was able to go places that I would normally drive to because I didn't want to climb a hill. So this made it possible for me to not have to take my car everywhere. I had the bike for about three years maybe, and it was the battery. I had to keep replacing the battery, and so I decided after the third time I replaced the battery maybe I should upgrade.

And I wasn't quite ready, but I saw that someone on Facebook had posted an e-bike for a price that I was was shocked that it was. So I went over the next day because I thought it was a typo.

So I was like "is this bike really for sale?" And he was like "yeah", and I went over there the next day and I bought it, and it's white, and I just didn't change my name on Twitter because nobody liked girl on a white bike. It just didn't have the same ring, so I just left it at girl on a blue bike. So, but I love this bike, this bike is Calypso. It has red flowers on it. I've decked her out with red and white accessories, but this bike does even better than the blue one does because the battery is stronger, it's not retrofitted to the bike. I don't have the kind of problems that I did have with the other bike sometimes, is that I replaced so many car trips with this bike. I grocery shop with it. I run errands with it. I take it to work almost every day it if it’s not raining or snowing.

I ride it all year long, and it has been a godsend.

It is heavy. Its is so heavy. I don't enjoy bringing it in and out of my apartment because its three steps up to my apartment, but I do it. I do it every day because it really just makes my life easier. And I don't... I mean I save money on gas in my car. I probably put gas in my car twice a month. I can get an oil change once a year. That's how little I end up driving because she is able to just... I able to just kind of hop on it and go, and it usually just places I'm going are ten to twelve miles away.

Or actually, I usually can just pretty much bike there as long as I'm not getting on the highway. If I have to get there by highway, I can pretty much do most of the stuff I need on my e-bike.

So I think it makes a huge difference for people for transportation. It allows you to go places they wouldn't... They would normal drive to. It allows people who have some type of pain or injury to be able to ride when maybe a regular bike causes too much pain, and an e-bike allows you turn on the peddle assist, and kinda ease through that pain. Or even turn on the throttle if you want it.

Armando Roggio: Renée you've been an excellent guest I really appreciate you coming on the podcast. Is there anything else you'd like to say to our audience? Perhaps about electric bikes, cycling, bicycling commuting, or anything really?

Renée: Yeah I think that if you haven't tried an electric bike . I often hear people say "oh, you're cheating, you're on a e-bike” or I'm talking to someone who is often in a truck telling me this, I'm like "okay, I'm cheating,” but their driving a truck whatever. But test out an e-bike, and take it up some hills and see what it's like.

Before you comment on it, and pass judgment that its cheating, or you don't need it, and all these other things. Or It goes to fast. Test one out and see what it’s like because they are fun to ride, but they can and do replace a lot of car trips for people.

And it helps people get out more than they normally would. I think than on a regular bike. Some people will ride their regular bike all the time, I'm not saying that they don't, but there are some people that would ride actually more if they knew that. They would ride more and longer if they had an e-bike in their possession or access to one. Because they can. Because it does go farther. It does get them up hills. It is a lot of fun to ride. You'll definitely want one once you try it out.

Armando Roggio: Do you think it’s a good idea for people to try an electric bike share as a way to try an e-bike?

Renée: Yeah, we have in D.C., we have e-bikes here it’s part of a bike share system that's called Jump Bike. And I do see a lot of people riding them especially in a hillier area, and people who I know that I have talked to who have thought e-bikes were cheating. Have tried out those Jump Bikes and they are like, "yeah, this is a game-changer." I said, "I know it really makes a difference."

Again how you'll ride, and where you'll ride. I think it makes a huge difference for people to do that. Places that normally people might say, "oh, I'll just take an Uber there" or maybe "I'll take the train there". They get on their e-bike and realize, oh, I can bike there. I can do that, that's not bad at all. It does make a big difference, so yeah, I think they should test it out with part of a bike-share system if they have one in their city. It's a lot of fun.

Armando Roggio: Thank you again I very much appreciate having you on the podcast.

Renée: Thank you. Thanks for having me I appreciate it.

Armando Roggio: And I want to thank you, yes you the one listening. These podcasts are made for you, and I want to do my best to interview folks you want to hear from. If you have a suggestion or recommendation please email contact@avello.com and just say, “hey, this is what I would like to hear next” or maybe even just email and say how much you like this show. Please also check out The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide. I think you will love it. Thank you very much take care.