Californians need to drive less to mitigate the climate crisis, but we don’t always have convenient public transit options. E-bikes replaces car trips to school, work, and on errands. In fact, studies have shown that e-bikes are one of the best ways to liberate people from the burden of car travel. That’s why CalBike is campaigning hard for our $10 million e-bike affordability program.
When we asked for e-bike stories, many of you told us that your e-bikes have replaced car trips and, sometimes, allowed you to go car-free. Here are a few of those stories.
Matt Hill, San Francisco
I got my first e-bike almost four years ago, and it completely changed my life. I live in San Francisco with two kids, and I stopped driving completely. I never look for parking anymore, which is an amazing mental health benefit. The whole family spends much more time outside, which is great, and I get more exercise.
After about a year with the e-bike, I sold my car, which reduced our transportation costs significantly (maintenance, insurance, gas, parking, etc.). I almost never use a car anymore, except for road trips. I probably ride 25 miles per week.
This past year, I upgraded to an electric bakfiets, because our kids are getting bigger, and we got a dog. With the bigger e-cargo bike, I can haul tons of stuff. We do beach days by bike — carrying boogie boards, wetsuits, picnic supplies, the dog, chairs, etc. We also go crabbing on the municipal pier by bike. There’s pretty much nothing we can’t do in San Francisco by e-bike that we could do by car. It’s truly amazing.
Phil Hong, Torrance
My e-bike has made biking a dependable and desirable way to get around my neighborhood.
Walking doesn’t make sense in my suburban neighborhood because everything is at least 15-20 minutes away by foot. Manual biking was always an option but arriving sweaty at my destination was never appealing. My e-bike has given me the option to bike to meetings, the mailbox, grocery stores, hardware stores, and the local parks.
Wherever I go on my e-bike I arrive fresh and energized. Parking is easy because I just need to locate the nearest bike rack, railing, or pole. Whenever I can bike, the car stays at home. I play tennis at least twice per week, go to the grocery store twice per week, and visit my post office mailbox twice per week. I am averaging 25 miles per week on my e-bike.
My e-bike can travel 30 miles before needing to recharge and a full recharge costs less than $0.10. Compare that to $5-10 in my gas car for fuel and maintenance, and it’s easy to see how e-bikes can revolutionize life for many but especially lower-income families. My e-bike has made going places much more enjoyable and it has made the car a much less important part of my life.
Lisa Reinker, San Carlos
I love my e-bike! I ride it to work every day as well as running errands. It’s so much more versatile than a car, and I never have to worry about finding or paying for parking. In traffic, I’m often faster than the Teslas and it’s so much more relaxing than being behind the steering wheel.
I make sure to drive my car once weekly to keep the tires ok, but other than that, my e-bike has pretty much replaced my car.
E Lebel, Menlo Park
In about a year, my e-bike has traveled over 1500 miles, replacing about 15% of my annual car mileage. In a post-pandemic world where I will have more places to go around town, I suspect this number will increase.
Riding the bike is usually at worst the same time as driving and most times faster than driving if going anywhere in Menlo Park or Palo Alto.
Erik Hovland, Glendale
I recently purchased a used e-bike on a lark. Turns out that the majority of my biking and the majority of my under 5 mile trips are now made by e-bike. It has had a transformative effect on short commutes and work commutes. The major benefit is the certainty that if I take my e-bike to work, I will be there in about 30 minutes and I will be home in about 30 minutes. This vastly improves my daily life.
I now regularly use my e-bike to take short trips. My trips to the hardware store and the grocery store are almost exclusively by e-bike at this point.
Phoebe Ford, San Francisco
I moved to San Francisco in 2015, worked very long hours at a start-up, and spent a big part of my paycheck on rent for a tiny studio in the Mission. I started bike commuting then, a pretty flat ride into Soma. In 2016 I moved in with my husband, which meant moving up a hill. I immediately felt trapped — I dreaded going down for any reason because I’d have to bike or walk back up. My e-bike, purchased about 1 month after moving, transformed my relationship to that apartment and SF city biking overall.
On my ‘classic’ bike, I found excuses not to ride. A late night at the office? Uber. Rainy? BART. Groceries? Walking over to the corner store. With my e-bike, I ride more, I ride farther, and I carry more cargo. I’ve put over 2000 miles on my e-bike every year since I’ve owned it, mostly commuting, but also every other local trip — to the movies, to the grocery store, to yoga, even to Lowes. I rode it until the day I went into labor with my first child. After my son was born, my husband and I added an e-cargo bike so we could take him out with us. We chose a front bucket bike to fit an infant car seat, to keep him protected, and us on the move in the months before he could sit in a child bike seat.
I still don’t own a car. I read recently that the average car payment is $572/month and I honestly cannot imagine fitting that into our household budget — not with pre-school kids in childcare. And I wouldn’t want to– we’d miss out on all the fun we have because our daily trips are outdoors on a bike.
Mark Maxwell, Ventura
I love, love, love my e-bike! It has replaced my car for all my day-to-day activities, including my daily commute, shopping trips and recreation for the last three years. It’s is so much fun to ride. There is a certain thrill in the acceleration of an electric motor! I love my bike’s throttle.
I also feel safer on my electric bike, because I am able to choose routes that are the safest, often on side streets, or along bike paths, routes I wouldn’t have taken on my regular pedal bike as I would want to keep my route short and flat to conserve my own energy (and knees), and to save time. I used to ride my regular bike down the east end of Main St. in Ventura, an obnoxious six-lane commercial stretch full of freeway ramps, left and right turn pockets, a Target center and fast food stores. Just not a nice place to ride a bike. Now I ride my e-bike up and out of my way on mostly residential Loma Vista St., which is wide, has excellent bike lanes and is lightly travelled. I would never have gone up Loma Vista on my pedal bike.
When I do drive a car lately, I am reminded of all the many instances of frustration, anxiety, and road rages big and small which don’t really present themselves while I am riding my bike. Driving can be a drag, especially during daily commutes and running errands in commercial areas. On my bike, I’m just zipping along past all that stuff. I get in my car once a week, if that. I can’t tell you the last time I filled my gas tank.
Do you have a story about how e-bikes replace car trips in your life? Or perhaps you’d love to own an e-bike but the price is too steep without help from a plan like CalBike’s E-Bike Affordability Program? Tweet your e-bike story @CalBike or share it with us on Facebook using the hashtag #ebikestories.