The low-down of ditching the car for a bike

I wrote this article in September 2020 for SEE-Change, of which I am convenor of the Belconnen group.

Tuesday 21 September 2020 is World Car Free Day. To encourage others to take up alternative modes of transport and become less reliant on their cars, I am sharing my experience of switching my car for an ebike on my daily work commute.

Me and my Cube Town Hybrid e-bike

I’m just another person on a bike, not a cyclist. I ride to my job in the city on my e-bike, a Cube hybrid with a step-through frame. It’s a 22-km round trip from my home in west Belconnen to my job in Acton. I recharge the bike every second day and it costs about $1.30.

Benefits: Switching to a bike has brought many benefits. At 30 minutes each way, it takes the same amount of time as driving and being stuck in traffic near my office. I now can park at my desk, don’t spend $17/day on casual car parking fees, and can enjoy birds, kangaroos, and other life on the separated bike paths. Riding beside Lake Burley Griffin is a particular daily highlight. Recently I saw a turtle.

Challenges: E-bikes mean hills aren’t a problem. The main challenge is having to share roads with traffic between my home and the start of the bike path (about 4km each trip). So I wear a reflective vest and use my flashing front and rear lights for that section, even in daylight. Outside of summer, I ride in my office clothes. But I’ll soon need shorts, and the showers at work.

Advice: Find where the separate bike paths are – I’m very happy to show anyone in Belconnen – because the roads are not safe, regardless of green paint and bicycle symbols. Get panniers so you can carry things and lose the backpack for better airflow. Ensure you have flashing lights front and back. USB enabled rechargeable ones are more convenient than replacing batteries.

Lastly, I’ve learned riding clears my head, both going to work and coming home. I no longer stress about traffic jams or finding a parking space, and can enjoy hearing and seeing things I couldn’t from my car.

By Paris Lord, Belconnen SEE-Change Convener. 21/09/2020.
Contact Paris at belconnen@see-change.org.au.

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