An electric bike can help us keep up with the pack as we age and ride with injuries or disabilities. CalBike is sponsoring a $10M e-bike affordability program to help more Californians get on e-bikes. E-bikes facilitate cycling for all ages and abilities.
Here are four stories of the ways that e-bikes have helped seniors and people with heath issues keep riding.
Tom Willging, Oakland
In December I turned 80 and for a present, I bought myself an e-bike. I don’t need its power assist to climb up the Oakland Hills. I’ve been climbing them once or twice a week since I moved to the Bay Area more than 10 years ago. I need the assist because in those last ten years my climbing pace has slowed to the point that I’m the last rider up the hills in my cycling club, the Oakland VeloRaptors.
Despite completing all five passes in the Sierra of the Death Ride in 2012, I’m no longer the 72-year-old spring chicken I was then. My riding group is mostly in their 60s and 70s and I find myself following their flashing red lights going up Oakland’s Old Tunnel Road on Sunday mornings.
For me, an e-bike is a great equalizer, extending my cycling in a way that I can continue to stop with my friends at the bakeries we frequent on the other side of the hills.
After my first knee replacements, no matter how I worked my quads, it was still painful to ride up even a gentle incline on my manual bike.
Before going on a month’s trip in an RV, planning to ride at many stops, I invested in [an e-bike] (24 gears and five battery settings, built for places like SF).
I make sure I’m always working, by setting the battery to the lowest setting and using most of the gears. The benefit is that the help the battery gives when I start up or go up a hill allows me to ride comfortably just about anywhere. I also maintain a speed at least a couple of miles faster than I could on my manual bike, and more than that when I’m riding into the wind.
I’ll never look back. Having had second replacements of my knees, plus other joints, I know I’d never be able to ride if I hadn’t bought the electric bike. With it, I’m still on the road at 75 and will be for years to come.
Jay Cobb, San Lorenzo
An e-bike is such a game-changer especially with someone like myself in their mid-60s that’s had a stroke and has multiple medical conditions and even eyesight issues. It’s so much fun to be on a bike that helps and just pushes you along when you need it. It keeps you engaged excited and energized like the battery on the bike since an e-bike and I have been riding together for almost 10 years it’s simple.
An e-bike is basically a Prius for your legs if you think about it. A Prius has an electric motor, it has a battery, and it has a regular motor. On an e-bike, you’re the motor, but like a Prius, the bike knows when to help you and when to save energy to get the longest ride possible. Most e-bikes made by major companies like Raleigh Trek specialized and so on can be found even locally where I live in the Bay Area for a little bit more than 1,000 to $1500. It gives you up to a 40-mile ride that is so nice and so natural that you need no training or experience to ride.
[The electric assist] helps you enjoy the ride even more and that’s what a bike is all about, no matter what your physical condition, no matter what your age. The e-bike helps you overcome anything you thought was an obstacle with ease.
The e-bike has helped me realize that I may be disabled but an e-bike re-ables me to think about life and my surroundings always in a positive way.
Always stay positive, always be moving forward, always make sure you’re having fun – that’s what an e-bike is all about. You’re always engaged and energized afterward; what a perfect machine even for the COVID…. still in the saddle.
Jane Raga, MD; Nevada City
The most important thing my e-bike has allowed me to do at 62 is to continue riding with my younger friends. Now I’m not a boat anchor–especially on the climbs–and I can hang with them for the distance and not be too painfully stiff to walk for three days after. I think this social benefit will become ever more important with age.
The benefits e-bikes can offer for mental health and staying connected with one’s community are every bit as important as the physical health benefits.
Do you have a story about how e-bikes allows cycling for all ages and abilities? Or commuting, running errands, or another tale of happy e-biking that you’d like to share? Fill out this form or tweet your e-bike love @CalBike using the hashtag #ebikestories – or both!