1,250 Miles and Counting
Bren Alvarez’s story is a great example of how one can benefit by using an electric bike for transportation to and from work, as well as for errands and recreation. Bren is an architect and works in Burlington, VT.
When Bren Alvarez lived in Burlington’s Old North End, she used an ordinary bicycle to get around. But buying a home five miles away, at the far end of North Avenue sent her off her bike and into a car, which she thought that she had to rely on to get to her job downtown, and everywhere else. But this all changed after meeting and falling in love with Angela M. Angela M, is the name she gave to her new electric bike.
Here is what Bren had to say about her new life experiences with an electric bike.
“Just this morning I saw the little odometer on my bike registering 1,250 miles! Those are 99.9 % commuter miles, to work, to local meetings, to grocery shopping and even to the doctor and dentist. It feels so very good to start and end the workday on Burlington’s world-class bike path and nice to know that there are 1,250 miles of exhaust fumes that didn’t mingle with our sweet lakeside air.
“Full disclosure: I’m a seasonal rider and my long commute is made possible with a sturdy reliable German-issued Kalhoff electric bike. I call my e-bike Angela M and without which I could not:
- navigate the east-bound Main Street traffic without wobbling out of bounds,
- enjoy the headwinds and the westerly gusts on the bike path,
- be unconcerned about riding in the dark and the rain and the otherwise,
- feel worry-free about the luxury commute time which also counts as mental health and physical fitness time,
- enjoy door-to-door home to office without dealing with parking, parking meters, and parking tickets,
- do some grocery shopping on the way home. The paneers can hold two large bags of groceries and their weight doesn’t matter.”
And in case you’re wondering, according to the EPA, 1,250 miles of driving an average car produces 1058.22 pounds of carbon dioxide.
Rural states, such as Vermont, clearly need to reduce their environmental and economical footprint in order to attain a sustainable future beyond our current reliance on fossil fuels. Our fossil fuel-based transportation systems are a huge part of the problem. We need to look at all solutions and moving to electric vehicles of all kinds, including bicycles, is just one small part of the answer.
Bren’s experience has led her awareness to bicycle safety and concerns for a healthy bike culture. “The Burlington Bike path offers a perfect alternative for the seasonal commuter that I am and will probably always be,” she added. Having been extremely dubious about the proposed improvements to North Avenue road safety in the area, she enjoys the three-lane solution but would have preferred a Share the Sidewalk option over a Share the Road bike lane approach for her neighborhood link to downtown.
Safety while riding is important for the rider, the pedestrian and the driver of motor vehicles. While bike paths are great, what about where there is not a bike path or on the roads to and from one? Should cities dedicate space in high traffic areas for bike lanes when it could lead to more congestion on our roadways? Is this a solution or a problem? Are there other solutions? Bren thinks sharing sidewalks may be a viable option. She noted, “With respect to safety, additional or wider shared sidewalks for bike and pedestrians would be essential for everyone, drivers, bikers and walkers alike would need to be aware and respectful of one another and of the rules of the road, walk and/or path.” This and other possible solutions need to be discussed.
Let’s keep the conversation going and figure out what will work best for our rural state and communities. Many communities across our country and many other countries rely heavily on using bicycles for transportation to and from work. Let’s make it work for us, too.
Here are some helpful links to make your experiences on an e-bike safer and lots of fun, too:
Bike maps and routes:
Bike rides, tours, trails throughout New England: https://bikenewengland.com/riding-nh/
A go-to guide for designing bike infrastructure: https://nacto.org/guide/.
Local Motion is a VT advocacy organization: localmotion.org.
This article was first published on the Sustainable Transportation Vermont blog that is dedicated toward a greener, healthier transportation system. Read the original article by Julie Campoli at https://www.stvt.org/Alvarez.