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  • Writer's pictureSteve Price

Can an electric bicycle take the place of a car?

Not if you can't use it for shopping—and that's why protected bike lanes are one key to reducing carbon emissions.

These days I’m riding an electric bike. I didn’t intend to. I believed that a decarbonized future would be ushered in by electric cars. I bought one. I wanted one that I could throw a bicycle in the back. The car was expensive, even with the tax incentives. But boy was it quiet! And the acceleration! I could show up young males in their thunderous muscle cars with my superior but silent torque.

There was much to learn going from a gas-powered car to an electric one: J1772 and CHAdeMO charging, finding available charging stations, peak and non-peak charging, electric vehicle maintenance. Gas-powered cars have no future; electric cars do. Much of sprawl America will be irredeemable on a heating planet without solar panels on roofs and EVs in driveways.

But for me the electric car experience ended in a collision in an intersection in Berkeley. My electric car was totaled. No one was seriously hurt, but the car became a memory, the end of a learning experience. Cars are an expensive gamble. Losing a transit pass or a carbon-fiber road bike hurts, but it is chump change to say the least compared to losing a car.

I’m now entering a new course of learning: what it means to live car-free in America … but still electrified. I’m warily moving forward. I love my new e-bike (electric bike). I’m not going back to vehicles spewing foul gases, no matter how stylish—they are beauty queens with digestive disorders. My electric bike is effluvium free. The e-bike takes me farther than my old bike. Instead of going x miles, I quickly go 2x or 3x; four to nine times the area of the city is laid at my pedaling feet.

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