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Bicycle safety is an important topic. You should feel safe riding your electric bike. A Boston-based company, Loud Bicycle, believes that one of the ways to improve safety is to speak the language of the road. And what they mean is that they want to make your bike honk. Recently, we recorded an interview with Jonathan Lansey, one of the founders of LoudBicycle for The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. You can listen to the podcast right here and follow along with the transcript below. Armando Roggio: If you're like many of our listeners, you both ride a bike and drive a car. So, have you ever been on your bike and had a sudden urge to honk? Maybe, someone was about to pull out in front of you or back into the bike lane without looking. Sure, you could ding a bell, but it would simply not do. You wanted to honk. This is The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO, and I am Armando Roggio. In this episode, we're going to speak with Jonathan Lansey, the founder of the Loud Bicycle horn company. Jonathan, thank you for joining us for this podcast. Jonathan Lansey: Absolutely, glad to be here.

A Car Horn for Your Bike

Armando Roggio: Jonathan, why not start by telling us about your company and how it got started. Jonathan Lansey: Yeah. I bike to work, and I also have driven. And, I have ... There's one point where I really wanted to honk. So, there was a car that was about to cut me off dangerously, and I felt like I had the urge to honk, but I couldn't, obviously, because I was on a bike. But then, I'm kind of an engineer, so I actually went ahead and built one. So, I built a car horn that I can honk just like a car on my bike, just kind of as a one-off to see what would happen. Armando Roggio: Where do you find components to build a car horn for your bicycle? Jonathan Lansey: Oh, AutoZone. Armando Roggio: Okay, that makes sense. Jonathan Lansey: Yeah, so, I took the original car horns came right from AutoZone, and the original battery came from an RC airplane. So, I just kind of hacked it together with some rubber bands and things, Yeah, and it worked really well. Armando Roggio: How did you go from having a custom horn that you made for your own bicycle, to having a product that you now have for sale? Jonathan Lansey: That's a great question. We actually have, we've been funded by lots of people all around the world, who really believed in it before it existed. And, this is, of course, through Kickstarter. So, we ran a Kickstarter campaign with a fairly ugly version of the horn. It was, basically, me, I had my little brother, who I forced to help me out with the 3D modeling. And yeah, we basically, presented the concept. And, 600 people signed on, and that's what got us going. Armando Roggio: So, was that 2014? Jonathan Lansey: The beginning of 2013. Armando Roggio: So now, you're six years into this company. Safe to assume, the loud bicycle horn is not ugly anymore? Jonathan Lansey: That's true. Actually, so, the very first thing we did after the Kickstarter was, joined up with Chris Owens, who's an industrial designer in Austin, Texas. And actually, he worked with us on the campaign, as well. But, he's just a genius, and he turns what was a fairly ugly product that looked a little bit phallic, and turned it into something that just looks really clean and nice, and new. But, we also have a second product, now. So, we have two car horns for bicycles, and the new one, we really learned a lot from the experience designing the first one. And, this one, we worked with Chris as an industrial designer from the very beginning, and so, it really looks beautiful the new mini horn.
The Loud Bicycle car horn for your bike.

Drivers Recognize the Car Horn Sound

Armando Roggio: Why is it helpful, or, why is it a good idea to, essentially, have a car horn on a bicycle? Jonathan Lansey: Yeah, it's actually, it's one of these things that, people just have a really fast reflex when they're responding to the sound of a car horn. So, it's well trained. It's well-practiced. When they hear that sound, they don't even need to think about what's happening. They just react. And also, the auditory reaction times are even faster than visual. So, people just react so fast. And, it only takes a couple of seconds. So, the difference in fatalities, if you're going, let's say, 40 miles an hour to 20 miles an hour, is huge. And, just a few seconds is all you need to make somebody go from almost dead to completely safe. And so, that's why reaction, so, this reaction time is so important, that's why it's so important to have that sound initiate the reaction as fast as you can.

Impersonating Automobiles

Armando Roggio: That makes sense. So, you're commuting in Boston. You're riding your bike. You have to use your loud bicycle horn to avert a problem, and now, there is a driver looking around and expecting a car. Jonathan Lansey: Oh, yeah, it's actually hilarious. So, the thing is, it doesn't matter, really, it's sort of like, a hack. You're hacking into their system, and it doesn't matter what they believe, because they do believe that there's a car right there. What matters is how they react. And, they react without fail in a way that keeps the person biking safe. Armando Roggio: Have you ever had a driver get upset with you for impersonating an automobile? Jonathan Lansey: Oh, I've had so many weird reactions. But so far, no one has actually had ... I, personally, have not experienced a bad reaction. But, in the words of one of our backers, I'd rather face an angry driver, than a friendly EMT. But, I could talk about a couple of them, because they're pretty funny. In some cases, let's say, a car, person driving is in a parking spot. And without checking their rearview mirror, maybe they had the windows down, they'd just start pulling out. And then, at this point, I was right next to them with their windows open. Honked the horn, and they just believed that a wizard was standing there. Yeah. Oh, and other times, let's say pulling out of an intersection or something, I'll give a quick, friendly honk. And then, the person driving will give a friendly wave. And, for just a couple of seconds, everything seems totally normal, but then a second later, they're like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, what? What was that?" So, it's just one of those things where people just have this reflexive reaction without thinking about it. And then, later, it dawns on them, wow, I just didn't run over a person biking without even thinking. Armando Roggio: Which is the goal, right? Jonathan Lansey: Exactly, that's the goal.

The Loud Bicycle Company

Armando Roggio: So, the loud bicycle horn sounds like a fun and great product. If someone wanted to buy your product, where would they find it? Jonathan Lansey: So, right now, we're only selling through Loudbicycle.com. Or, you can search for the “loud bicycle horn.” Armando Roggio: You need to put the horn on Amazon or something. Jonathan Lansey: Yeah, we've so far, been really struggling, actually, to make enough horns to keep up with the demand. And so now, but as of this month, we actually, just got back in stock, and we've got a lot of stock. So, we're now going to start working with other partners. Maybe not Amazon initially, but yeah, that's coming soon. But for now, everyone can get it at Loudbicycle.com. And, we actually have two-day shipping included for the U.S.

Bicycle Safety

Armando Roggio: So next, let's talk about bicycle safety. You're a commuter. What do you think is the current state, if you will, of bicycle safety? Are there things a rider can do? Are there things that we can do as a society? Jonathan Lansey: I think the most important thing to do is, to ride your bike. There's a lot of things that you can do, to be perfectly safe on your bike. You know you don't necessarily need a horn. You can just, you don't even need a helmet. There are ways that you can ride defensively and carefully, that yeah, and the more people that ride, then, the safer it's going to be for everyone. Because right now, we're in this weird state where, our infrastructure is ... at least, in America, and numerous places around the world, as well, the infrastructure has been designed and built primarily, for motorized vehicles, like cars and trucks. But, bicycles are becoming a lot more popular now. And so, suddenly, we have this influx where the bicycles are mixing with the people driving. And, that's where it can be dangerous. And so, that's really what the problem is, the infrastructure is not in a state where it can support the uses that the people would like to use it for. And so, I think that the real long term solution is going to be moving to someplace like, or moving our infrastructure to mirror something like Copenhagen. So, we've sold horns to, essentially, every country in Europe. Lots, but not a single one to anywhere in Denmark or Copenhagen. Even though there are more bicycle riders in the city of Copenhagen than the entire United States of America. And the reason is, because people just feel safe there. And so, the horn really is kind of a symptom. The fact that it's popular is a symptom of a poor infrastructure that we have here. And, our vision for the future is actually, to make it so that America has safe infrastructure for people biking, and then, we'll just turn all of our car horn bicycle horns into plowshares. Armando Roggio: So, that was a Biblical reference. Jonathan Lansey: It was, yeah. Armando Roggio: That's pretty awesome. I am not sure that we've had anyone slide a Biblical reference into the podcast before, so I am impressed. Jonathan Lansey: Put that footnote in there. Armando Roggio: I will, I will. It's interesting that your ultimate goal is to have that level of infrastructure because if the U.S. in a sense, became like Copenhagen in terms of bicycle usage, Loud Bicycle would be out of business. Jonathan Lansey: That would be wonderful. You know, I think that would make the world a better place. But for now, there's a real need. So, for example, I personally, I like to bike pretty fast. And, sometimes the people driving, especially when they come from, let's say, outside the city, they're used to people like most, kids riding their bikes on the sidewalk. They don't realize just how fast I'm going. And that means that it can be really dangerous. You know, if a car misjudges the speed, just like if they were to misjudge the speed of another car. Now, the thing is, is that, when you're using the roads, we like to think of the horn as, really, just kind of speaking the language of the people driving. So, it doesn't even need to be aggressive. It's just kind of the language that people use to communicate on the roads.

Electric Bikes

Armando Roggio: I like your point about speed. Obviously, this is the Electric Bike Podcast, so, we focus on electric bikes, which are a great equalizer, hill flattener. It's not hard to be going 20 miles per hour on your electric bike. So, I guess, talk to us a little bit about electric bikes. Jonathan Lansey: I think electric bikes are great. So, the key with bicycles are, you know, they keep the air clean. They keep people healthy. But, with electric bicycles, it allows ... Oh, and it's just a more compact use of the space in a city, so, people driving usually, single occupancy cars, they take up a lot of space. And, an electric bicycle can get you there, sometimes, as fast and as easily, without taking up all the space in a city. And, parking, as well. So, I think electric bicycles are great for those reasons.

Problem Solving

Armando Roggio: Jonathan, you've already mentioned some of your engineering experience. You are also a data scientist. Do you think there's a connection between tech and cycling? Do people interested in technology also tend to have an affinity for alternative transportation? Jonathan Lansey: Well, let's say ... Yeah. So, in tech, you're typically solving, you're optimizing things, solving problems in creative ways. And, cycling, I mean, I'm obviously, I don't know if biased is the right word here, but I have strong opinions about cycling. And for me, it's certainly optimized my commute. It kind of solved the exercise, which is the best thing you can do health-wise. Solved the exercise and the commuting, all in one go. So yes, so for me, cycling is really, the optimal way to get around. And, in technology, you're often looking for optimal solutions, so it's kind of maybe, the kind of person that is working to make things optimal is the kind of person who will come to realize that cycling is the best way to get around. Armando Roggio: It's problem-solving in your work, and then problem-solving in your life, in a sense.

Bicycle Community

Jonathan, as we start to wind down, are there other things you would like to share with the folks listening to the podcast? It can be about anything you'd like. Jonathan Lansey: Sure, in Boston, we have this really fun thing called The Boston Bike Party. And, it's essentially, where bunches of people get out there on their bikes, and we ride really slowly around the city. And, we just have a good time. And, there's a couple of these in different places around the world. And, it's pretty fun, so a just shout out to them. And, if you're in a city, you might want to check out if there's a bike party in your city, and maybe, go ride. Armando Roggio: Do you think events like that one are one of the ways we will get more attraction for cycling? You know, build a community, if you will, around it? Jonathan Lansey: Oh, absolutely. It's weird because in other countries, let's say, the Netherlands, nobody really is a cyclist, and there is no real separate bicycle riding community because that just is the way that everybody is over there. It kind of is the culture of the country. And so, I think it'd be great if ... Or, how do we get to that point? Well, I would imagine that it starts with a cycling community which just grows and grows and grows until eventually, everybody is in it. And then, now it's your default culture. So, I think that with Bike Party, it definitely does draw people in, because they realize how they can see very clearly, the joy that comes from riding a bicycle. And then, want to have that for themselves. Oh, and actually, one other last thing, we have a website called nicecycling.com, and that kind of, it captures the ethos of how we would like to, what our ideal world would look like. And, it was a partnership of Friendly Design Company. And, we actually include a copy of this with every horn. But, it basically, it gives general instructions for how anyone, with the horn, without a horn, anybody can actually, with following these rules, can remain really safe on their bike. So, nobody should be afraid to bike. So, that's nicecycling.com. Armando Roggio: Jonathan, this is a great site. Thank you for sharing that, and thank you for joining us for The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. For our listeners, I hope you will check out the EVELO website at evelo.com. You can use the contact form there to send us your suggestions and comments about this podcast. Also be certain to check out The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide, if you have not already is worth a look. Thank you so much for listening. Have a great rest of your day.
Personal electric bikes could help public transit systems manage the first-mile-last-mile problem, encouraging ridership and lowering mass transit costs. But like many possible solutions to this problem, electric bikes still face challenges. If privately-owned electric bikes are to impact the first-mile-last-mile (FMLM) transit problem, communities must address infrastructure, transport, and storage.

What is the FMLM Transit Problem?

Few homes are built directly next to a light rail line. This is especially true in relatively less dense areas. So if a commuter wants to get from home to work using public transportation, he or she needs to travel to a rail station or bus stop. This is the first mile of the journey. When this same commuter arrives at a station near his or her office there will still be some distance to go, since, again, the office is probably not built directly on a public transit line. This is the last mile of the journey.
Source: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. http://media.metro.net/docs/First_Last_Mile_Strategic_Plan.pdf
  “The FMLM problem is drawn originally from telecommunications, then supply chain management (goods movement),” explained Arizona State University Assistant Professor, David A. King. “For telecommunications FMLM is the final leg (or first leg) to the consumer. With physical infrastructure, it is expensive to match high capacity hubs to individual units. In the 1970s and 1980s, as cable TV was being deployed across the US, cable companies had to individually wire each and every household. This was a tremendous but necessary cost, and the cable companies were able to amortize the expenses over many years. Rarely did an individual household pay the full cost of running cable, instead they just paid a small installation fee and their monthly subscription,” King continued. “FMLM then was used by logistics companies (FedEx, UPS, etc.) to describe their endpoint deliveries from centralized warehouses.” More recently, FMLM has been used to describe how commuters and other travelers get to and from a public transit station. At first thought, this might seem like a simple thing, but the first and last miles can be daunting. Most American commuters are only willing to walk about a quarter of a mile to or from a transit station, according to transportation consultant, Jarrett Walker. This means that if public transit is to be the only method of transportation it would need to build stops within 1,320 feet of a person’s doorstep. As you can imagine, this approach would be both ridiculous and expensive. Rather, transit lines are most effective when they provide relatively direct routes between popular hubs. And when they are full and fast. Thus the FMLM transit problem. How do travelers effectively get to a station more than 1,320 feet away?

Electric Bikes Could Help Address the FMLM Problem

Electric bikes are one possible solution to the FMLM transit problem. In particular, privately-owned electric bikes may be especially well suited for the first mile of the journey. Let’s consider a morning commute. Melisa needs to get from her home to her office. The trip is about 30 miles. The regional light rail system has a stop less than a block from her office, but the station closest to her home is about three miles away. Her situation is typical. Many Americans work in relatively dense areas with many nearby transit stops but live in suburban neighborhoods. Melisa could ride an electric bike, perhaps the EVELO Galaxy, the short three-mile trip to the rail station, ride the train to the stop near her office, and either walk or ride the short distance to work. In theory, this simple arrangement should make it easy to combine electric bikes and public transportation for a smooth easy commute. But there are problems.

FMLM, Electric Bike Challenges

Melisa has essentially two problems, which create three challenges for transit authorities and communities that want to encourage public transportation. Here are the problems.
  1. Melisa needs to feel safe and comfortable riding from her home to the rail station.
  2. Melisa needs to do something with her electric bike while she rides the train.

Bicycle Infrastructure

A commuter’s first problem is feeling safe and comfortable on the ride from home to the transit station (or from the station to home in the evening). Feeling safe may be a function of education, training, and infrastructure. Los Angeles, which has won awards for its FMLM planning, tries to create pathways for travelers to access public transportation, as an example. A pathway could include a bike lane. It might be a green zone. Or it could simply be a wide, well-lit road. Bicycle-friendly infrastructure would be supplemented with safety training for both drivers and electric bike riders. “Cycling for local access requires (a) focusing on short local trips and (b) on a kind of cycling that will appeal to a broad segment of the population. That means safe routes that are designed for relatively slow speeds, not just painted bike lanes next to traffic on high-speed arterials,” wrote Jarrett Walker, the transportation consultant mentioned earlier. “In general, cycling for station access needs more of the features of European cycling infrastructure. A Dutch planner once told me that the Dutch bicycle network is designed for a 60-year old woman with two bags of groceries, and that’s a good guideline,” Walker continued. Electric bikes, thanks to their helpful motors, can overcome many of the other challenges associated with the ride to the rail station. For example, ebikes will allow the commuter to travel further faster. An ebike overcomes obstacles like hills, and an electric bike lets the commuter arrive at the station without getting sweaty, according to The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide. But ultimately, there may need to be improvements to cycling infrastructure.

Transporting an Electric Bike

Once Melisa, from our imagined example commuter, arrives at the rail station, she will need to do something with her electric bike. If she had her druthers, she would take her ebike with her on the train, ride it the last mile to work, and park it in the corner of her office. This is a challenge. Transit systems need to be full of passengers to get the economies of scale necessary to make them affordable. And an ebike can take up a lot of room on a train. To address this, public transportation systems will need to determine how many additional riders they would get if they provided an easy way to take an electric bike on a train or bus. This estimate should be compared to the costs of accommodating ebikes. It will be important too for transportation planners to consider the entire system. Allowing electric bikes on trains, but prohibiting them from buses within the system may not solve the problem.

Electric Bike Storage

If Melisa (our example commuter) is going to park her electric bike at the light rail station rather than take it with her, she will want someplace safe to keep it. Electric bikes are expensive. They are loaded with electronics. They have heavy-duty frames. They may have other high-end components like belt drives and continuously variable transmissions. Thus, theft is a real concern. Public transportation authorities will need to provide safe bike parking. This may need to include rental lockers that completely enclose an electric bike. Camera systems and security may also be required.

Balancing the FMLM Problem

Electric bikes may help to provide a solution to the FMLM public transportation problem. But as a possible solution, they do come with challenges. Bicycle advocates and electric bike commuters may be able to influence their local transportation authorities, perhaps, encouraging them to consider addressing bicycle infrastructure, electric bike transportation on buses and trains, and ensuring bike parking is secure as a means of dealing with the FMLM problem.
For many, if not most, Americans an electric bike complements a car. One is used for recreation and the other for practical transportation. Which role each plays, however, could be changing, and there are at least five reasons that an electric bike may be a better choice for commuting and transportation. Let’s be clear. A bicycle or electric bike won’t make sense for every commute everywhere. If you have to go from Livermore, California to San Jose, the 35-mile trip would take about two hours on an electric bike. While that ride would be a lot more pleasant than fighting traffic on Interstate 680, you could make the drive in about half the time.

Your E-bike Can Be Fast

A car is not always faster or more reliable than an electric bike for commuting. Imagine you live in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. It’s a good place. Lot’s of folks would be happy to be where you are. Work, however, is at the Gateway Center right next to Point State Park at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers about six miles away. On an electric bike, your trip might take 20 minutes (it would be almost all downhill on the way to work as you drop 417 feet in elevation). For a significant portion of the commute, you would be on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, which is protected from automobile traffic, and a pretty awesome way to see some of the city (and lots of parking lots).
Three Rivers Heritage Trail runs next to Interstate 375 for much of your route. The trail is generally protected from automobile traffic. It is clear and fast almost year around.
  The drive would take around 13 minutes on your way to work and 19 minutes on the way home, according to data from Uber Movement for trips taken from June 1 to August 31, 2018. Uber, the ride-sharing folks, have released anonymized trip data for several cities, including Pittsburgh. This data shows the average automobile travel time between locations. In the case of our example that the average travel time for your route with be 15 minutes with things going a bit better in the morning and a bit worse during the peak afternoon commute.
Uber Movement data provides travel times in several cities, including Pittsburgh.
  Thus, the difference between riding an electric bike to work and taking a car is a matter of a few minutes. In fact, during the peak afternoon commute, it could be a matter of one minute. Your personal commute will, of course, be different than this example in Pittsburgh, but it should serve to demonstrate that it is at least possible that your commute can be just as fast on an electric bike as it is in a car. What's more, Interstate 375 has had the odd accident and closure which would suddenly wreck an automobile commute. The route you would take on an electric bike is more reliable.

You Don’t Have to Park

Let’s continue with our Pittsburgh example. As you ride up to the Gateway Center on your e-bike you won’t have to worry about parking a car. Depending on your company’s policies, you might be able to wheel your bike directly into your office. Worst case, you lock it up outside. That will never work for your car. In fact, parking a car anywhere near the Gateway Center can be both difficult and expensive. Many of the locals actually park across the river next to Heinz Field (where the Steelers play) and walk back to downtown over the Fort Duquesne Bridge. This maneuver will cost you about five more minutes in drive time and about 15 minutes of walking. Meaning that the total commute time just about doubled if you drove.

An Electric Bike is Better for Your Health

Riding an electric bike can produce a number of significant health benefits. Pedaling just a few miles a day as you commute to work may be able to help you lose unwanted weight, improve your heart health, boost your immune system, and stave off type-2 diabetes. What’s more, if you go to the gym just to walk on a treadmill or swing your feet on an elliptical machine, you might be able to drop the gym membership and get just as much exercise on your bike. In contrast, driving a car to work does not contribute at all to your physical health. It actually harms you. Time magazine reported that commuting to work by car will raise your blood sugar, make your cholesterol relatively higher, and increase both anxiety and depression.

You’ll Save a Lot of Money

Driving an automobile in American costs at least 50 cents per mile. In fact, “the AAA’s 2018 report found that a typical American household driving about 15,000 per year would spend 58.99 cents per mile for every mile driven. That works out to be $8,848.50 a year to drive a car to work, to the grocery store, and to your child’s afternoon soccer practice.” This figure from the AAA doesn’t take into account things like paying to park your car in downtown Pittsburgh or really anywhere. If you have to pay to park, pay tolls, or pay a commuting fee, driving to work is even more expensive. When you consider just how much an automobile costs to own and operate, spending a few thousand dollars on an electric bike seems like a real deal.

Commuting to Work is Fun

Most of the items on this list have been objective. For example, the time it takes to commute from Squirrel Hill to the Gateway Center can be measured. The parking situation in downtown Pittsburgh or in any town can be tested. The health benefits of bicycling are well documented, and it is a real thing that cars are expensive to operate. But our final item is subjective. It is dependent on your attitude toward riding an electric bike. Simply put if you enjoy bicycling, riding an e-bike to work is probably going to be a lot more fun than sitting in a car in bumper-to-bumper traffic. If you want to learn more about electric bikes, you should check out The Complete Electric Bike’s Buyer’s Guide.
If you were thinking of giving your dad a tie, slippers, or a coffee mug for Father’s Day, you should stop reading. This article is not for you. Rather this is a list of incredible Father’s Day gift ideas that will not only wow your dad but also ensure your position as his favorite child. Assuming that money and time are not an issue. Here are the five things you should get your dad for Father's Day 2019.

Rivian R1S Electric SUV

The R1S is an amazing electric SUV. This yet-to-be-produced electric SUV goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in three seconds. That makes the R1S faster off of the line than a 2019 Corvette Stingray. The SUV has a 400-mile range (with the large battery), and, with an electric motor at each wheel, it puts out a combined 756 horsepower. Although the first Rivian SUVs won’t be produced until 2020, you can pre-order one now with a $1,000 deposit. Expect to pay a final price of $72,000 to $90,000 depending on the battery and options you select. Autotrader has a nice “First Look” article about the Rivian R1S if you want more information.

TDA Global Cycling Via Italia Tour

Recently, Henry Gold, the founder of TDA Global Cycling, was a guest on The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. In the podcast, we learned how Gold became interested in extreme bicycling touring, and, frankly, listening to it activates your adventure gene. For Father’s Day 2019, give dad the TDA Global Cycling Via Italia tour. The tour starts on September 14, 2019, and lasts for 39 days and nights. All told, your dad will cycle more than 1,500 miles. An amazing photo of Italy.   “It has been said that all roads lead to Rome and the Viva Italia cycling tour is simply more proof that this may indeed be the case. Participants will spin out of the Vatican City’s extraordinary St. Peter’s Square only to pedal up to Rome’s fabled Colosseum just over 5 weeks, 2,345 km and 3 islands later. During that time they can enjoy a refreshing aperitivo, perhaps a Campari and Soda in Siena’s magnificent Piazza del Campo. On their rest days in Florence, they can stroll through the priceless collection of Renaissance art in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery and climb the dome of Brunelleschi’s Duomo. They will ride through some of Tuscany and Italy’s greatest vineyards, likely stopping for a glass or two of Chianti or Montepulciano along the way. The Viva Italia cyclists will taste the freshest of seafood in historic Livorno and have a chance to visit the unforgettable Leaning Tower of Pisa.” Getting dad the tour will cost about $10,700, plus airfare from his place to Rome, Italy. You might want to consider getting a second seat on the tour for yourself or, perhaps, your mom since dad will probably want a travel companion.

2020 Superbowl Tickets

A picture of a football in grass. Photo by Ben Hershey. If your dad is an NFL fan, you should get him tickets to the 2020 Superbowl in Miami, Florida. The game will be played on February 2, 2020, but tickets are available now from NFL On Location Experiences. You can put dad on the 50-yard line in what is called The 72 Club for $22,500 per ticket. You should also factor in airfare, hotel, and dining in Miami, so why not budget $25,000 per person. Send three of his best buddies with him for $100,000.

EVELO Delta X Electric Bike

The amazing Delta X mid-drive electric bike. The EVELO Delta X Electric Bike is the SUV of the ebikes. Thanks to a 750W mid-drive motor and an Enviolo transmission, the Delta X has the raw power you often only find in high-end electric mountain bikes. To this EVELO adds a durable cargo rack, full fenders, lights, and wide Schwalbe 27.5 x 2.80 Super Moto-X tires. Your dad will feel comfortable taking the Delta X off-roading on local trails or riding it to work as a regular commuter bike. The Delta X is $3,999. To it, you will want to add a top rack pannier bag and a quick lock. Finally, you may want to spring for a second bike for mom or yourself so that dad has a riding partner.

JURA GIGA 5 Automatic Coffee Machine

A picture of the Jura giga 5. The Jura Giga 5 is a completely automatic espresso and coffee maker. At the push of a button, this coffee robot makes 17 different specialty coffee drinks, including espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos. It has two coffee bean hoppers and two ceramic grinders built in. It is very easy to maintain, and as mentioned above it automatically makes amazing coffee beverages. It is the functional equivalent of hiring a barista to live in your dad’s kitchen. Expect to pay about $5,000 for this Jura.
Google Maps is among the best, free online mapping solutions, and it can be a good tool for planning recreational bike rides or commutes. Whether you’re taking a leisurely ride around town, commuting to work or school, or even getting some serious exercise, riding an electric bike is fun and fast. But riding an electric bike is not the same as driving. You don’t necessarily want to use the same roads and you may not be interested in the shortest route. What’s more, riding in unfamiliar places can put you right in the middle of heavy traffic or even get you lost. Here is a scenario. Imagine you are taking an RV trip. You find yourself in Boise, Idaho. You park. And now you want to explore the city on your electric bike. But you don’t know Chindin Boulevard from South Americana. So you could easily end up and Garden City instead of Ann Morrison Park. One solution is to plan your bike route with Google Maps.

Plan Your Bike Ride

Let’s plan a bike route on Google Maps using a laptop or desktop computer. In the end, we will share the directions to a mobile phone.

Set Your Starting Point

Using your favorite web browser, navigate to Google Maps. The first step is to set your starting point. The example uses the Grove Hotel in downtown, Boise, Idaho, but you will enter your address or maybe the spot your RV is parked, etc.
Type the address or name of your starting point into the search field on Google Maps.
 

Set Waypoints

The bike route will be a round trip, but you will certainly want to see some places along the way, so let’s enter a couple of waypoints. These waypoints will also help us plan the bicycle route. Click the directions icon. This icon is positioned just a little way down from the search bar wherein you entered your starting address.
The directions icon opens up the route planning features in Google Maps.
  The Google Maps interface will change. You need to do three things. (1) To start, choose the cycling mode for the map.
Click the cycling mode icon.
  (2) Then switch the position of your starting point so that it is at the top. To do this, click the up-and-down arrow icon.
Click the up-and-down arrow icon to reposition the starting point. You can move waypoints too.
  This will move your starting location to the top of the list.
Your starting position should now be at the top of the list.
  (3) Next, type in the address or name of a new waypoint. You can add several waypoints by clicking the “Add Destination” icon or link. The example includes five waypoints. The last waypoint is the starting point. Thus, we have a loop.
Add waypoints to create a loop.
 

Switch to the Bicycling Map View

Google Maps includes a bicycling view that will add cycling-specific information to the main map. To access this view, first, click on the menu icon.
Click this menu icon to open up some of Google Maps' features.
  Next, click on the word “bicycling” to add the aforementioned bicycling information to the main map.
Not surprisingly, selecting bicycling adds biking information.
  This will fundamentally change the map. You should now see bike-friendly roads, bike lanes, and trails.
Google maps provides helpful information for riding your electric bike.
 

Adjust Your Route

Now you can adjust your route. Click and hold any portion of the route to drag it onto a trail or a more bike-friendly road.
Click, hold, and drag to change your route.
  As you change your route, Google will recalculate the total distance and the amount of elevation change. If you’re riding an electric bike, you will be able to climb the hills like they are not even there.
Google Maps shows you the total distance for your route and how much the elevation will change.
 

Send the Route to Your Mobile

Once you have a route you like, you can send it to your mobile phone.
Send the route to your phone.
  If you are signed into Google on your mobile and on your computer, Google Maps should have your phone available on a list of options. If not, you can email a link to yourself and open that link on your mobile. You could also create a similar route directly in the Google Maps app on your mobile. The steps are the same.
In an effort to encourage bicycle and electric bike commuting in the United States, Representatives from Oregon, Florida, and Massachusetts introduced a new, bipartisan bill that would restore and expand tax incentives for some riders, allowing them to receive employer-paid transportation benefits of as much as $53 per month tax-free. “The bicycle is the most efficient form of urban transportation ever devised. Cycling reduces carbon emissions, provides enormous physical and mental health benefits, and is one of the most cost-effective modes of transportation available,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, as he introduced the proposed legislation into Congress on March 4, 2019.

Existing Commuter Benefits

American workers pay taxes on their wages, bonuses, and some of the benefits they receive, but there are exceptions. For example, employers in the United States may offer commuter benefits to workers who drive or ride public transportation to their office or job site. Qualified transportation benefits may total $256 per month for the cost of commuting and $256 per month for the cost of parking. Employers pay these benefits and employees receive them tax-free. A similar but smaller reimbursement of $20 per month was available to bicycle and electric bike commuters from 2009 until 2017. That incentive was explicitly suspended as part of President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (which is officially known as Public Law 115-97). Revoke the bike benefits could increase federal tax revenue by about $5 million annually.

The Bicycle Commuter Act of 2019

“Communities across the country have realized and substantially invested in building better bike networks and improving facilities for biking to work,” said Representative Blumenauer. “These investments are one of the reasons that rates of biking to work have nearly doubled since 2000 while driving and public transportation rates have increased by 16 percent and 26 percent, respectively.” “Despite these impressive developments, there is currently no commuter tax benefit for biking to work. Public Law 115-97 suspended the bicycle commuting reimbursement benefit through 2025, taking away a valuable financial incentive for people who choose to bike to work,” said Blumenauer. If the Bicycle Commuter Act of 2019 passed this would change. Commuters riding an electric bike or a conventional bicycle to work could claim up to 20 percent of the already permitted parking benefit each month pre-tax. The legislators behind the bill believe promoting cycling is about more than just transportation. “Incentivizing bicycle commuting helps people stay active, promotes a clean environment and is good for the economy,” said Republican Representative Vern Buchanan of Florida, one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “Access to transit is not only an economic issue, it's an equity and public health issue,” said Democratic Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts who is also one of the bill’s sponsors. “As representatives of the people, it is our responsibility to invest in transit options like biking that offer flexible and efficient means for everyday travel, recreation, and commuting for all communities.” Of course, ultimately, bicycling to work, to school, to run errands, or even for recreation is a personal choice that may not be driven by a tax incentive or employee benefit. “While there are any number of reasons that a particular cyclist might choose to ride an electric bike, three of the most important ones to take into consideration are the ways that electric bikes can help save time and money, the ways they help contribute to a healthier lifestyle, and the fact that they represent an environmentally friendly mode of transportation. At the end of the day, however, many cyclists choose electric bikes simply because they’re fun to ride. Perhaps one of the most important reasons for choosing an electric bike, then, is that they make it possible for people of all ages, skills, fitness levels, and abilities to enjoy the pure pleasure of riding a bike,” wrote Boris and Yevgeniy Mordkovich in “The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.”
Cycling on an electric bike just a few times each week can improve an adult’s cardiorespiratory performance and general health in ways similar to riding a conventional bicycle or taking vigorous walks, according to several clinical studies. One of the most telling studies, released in the May 2018 edition of the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, compared the peak oxygen uptake (VO2 max) of 32, overweight adults before and after four weeks of bicycle commuting.

Swiss Study Shows Electic Bikes Improve VO2 Max

The study, “Effect of E-Bike Versus Bike Commuting on Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Overweight Adults,” took its participants from local government offices in and around Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft, Switzerland during the summer of 2016.
Riding a bicycle or an electric bike to work may improve your cardiovascular health. Photo by Blubel.
  For more than a decade, the Swiss government has been trying to encourage citizens to ride a conventional bicycle or electric bike to work rather than driving or taking public transportation. As part of this program, the nation holds a four-week “Bike to Work” promotion during the warm summer months. This promotion served as the intervention period for the Swiss study. Each of the subjects was relatively overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 35. (A BMI of 18.5 to 25 is considered normal, according to the American Heart Association.) Each participant was an adult aged 18-to-50, and each was willing to cycle to work at least three times each week during the intervention period. The subject’s commute had to be at least 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) each way. Other than cycling, the participants kept their normal eating habits and normal levels of physical activity. To determine how cycling impacted each of the subjects, the Swiss researches measured VO2 max before and after the four-week intervention. VO2 max measures the peak amount of oxygen a person can use during intense exercise. It is considered a good measurement of aerobic endurance and cardiovascular fitness. Thus, any improvement in VO2 max would indicate that bicycling imply heart and lung health.
The Swiss study showed that riding an electric bike to work (or just riding an electric bike in general) improves your ability to update oxygen.
  At the beginning of the study, all 32 participants had normal VO2 max scores and normal resting blood pressure levels. By the end of the intervention period, those participants riding electric bikes had improved their VO2 max by 3.6 mL/(kg·min) from a mean of 35.7 mL/(kg·min) before the trial to a mean of 39.3 mL/(kg·min) at the end of the four-week period. Conventional bike riders enjoyed a 2.2 mL/(kg·min) gain from a mean of 36.4 mL/(kg·min) at the beginning of the study to a mean of 38.6 mL/(kg·min) at the study’s conclusion. The study subjects also enjoyed improvements in resting heart rate and resting blood pressure after just four-weeks of cycling to work. Bottom line, electric bikes “may have the potential to improve cardiorespiratory fitness similar to conventional bicycles despite the available power assist, as they enable higher biking speeds and greater elevation gain,” wrote the Swiss study’s authors.

Electric Bikes Overcome the Barriers to Exercise

This Swiss study’s findings are generally consistent with other clinical research. An analysis of electric-bike-related clinical studies, “Health benefits of electrically-assisted cycling: a systematic review,” published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity in 2018 reported that eight of eleven studies examined showed improvements in oxygen uptake as a result of riding an electric bike. “Riding an e-bike led to a relative mean oxygen uptake of 14.7 to 29  ml/min/kg or 51 to 74 percent of maximum oxygen uptake,” the analysis said. What’s more, many adults may find it easier to start exercising with an electric bike than to get started walking, running, or riding a conventional bicycle. Electric bikes may help adults become and stay more active. “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,” according to chapter three of “The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.” “Electric bikes, therefore, may provide an especially helpful way to exercise for those who fall into the following categories: recovering from an injury or illness, looking for a low-impact workout, elderly cyclists, people who are new to working out, returning to physical activity after a prolonged period of inactivity,” the guide concluded.