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Tips for Going Car-Light or Car-Free with an eBike

Tips for Going Car-Light or Car-Free with an eBike

May 06, 2022 | Pete Prebus

EBikes are a lot of fun to ride with the electric assist motor helping you zip up and over hills and explore new areas with ease. They are so much fun that the true utility of an eBike is almost completely overshadowed by the joy of riding one.

With the electric assist, your ability to easily carry cargo and/or passengers is much easier, while minimal to no sweat means you can arrive at your destination looking presentable.

When you consider all of the benefits and utility of an eBike they can really be a good car alternative or replacement. Plus, in this day and age there are a bunch of ways to use other transportation options when you need them and have things delivered to your home so you have more time for fun rides!

For some people just using a car less often can result in a financial savings in addition to enjoying the fun and healthy benefits of eBiking regularly.

Another scenario could be a couple that own 2 cars, but decides to downsize to 1 car and add an eBike or two.

And for the truly hard core, it could be eliminating car ownership altogether. What?! In this article we will take a look at ways to use your eBike more and the car less.

Why eBike More & Drive Less?

From a practical perspective eBiking can save you a significant amount of money over driving a car all the time. Here is an article that looks at the cost savings in addition to the lifestyle benefits.

Some of the highlights are potential savings of $2,000+ per year by replacing some car trips with an eBike, and nearly $10,000 per year if a motor vehicle is eliminated entirely. Of course, your mileage may vary.

eBiking has the physical and mental health benefits that are a great way to enjoy the ride while commuting to work or running errands - and by eBiking you don't have to deal with the typical car hassles, like sitting in traffic and finding and paying for parking.

Probably the best reason for eBiking more is that it's just fun!

Commuting to Work or School by Electric Bike

Commuting to work or school is a very common use for daily car driving but it can also be easily done with an electric bike.

First of all you will want to map out a good route to work that is safe with less car traffic. Google Maps is a great way to start with the bicycle directions feature. This can be a great starting point and you can test and tweak the route to work best for you.

For instance, you may find a side route that is a bit more direct but has a hill that your electric bike can easily handle. Google Maps bike directions will generally try to avoid the hill because they are designed for a conventional non-assisted bike.

Also, have fun exploring different routes through parts of town you may have never traveled through before. You might be pleasantly surprised to come across parks, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. that would be fun to check out and share with your friends and family.

Here is an article with a more in-depth look at the many route finding tools that are available today.

Pack your charger, clothing, and work essentials

Depending on how far your commute is you may want to take your charger to work so that you can top off your battery for the ride home. And another option would be to buy a second charger to keep at work.

Carrying your work gear, clothes, and other essentials is easy with all of the cargo options available like front and rear racks, baskets, bags, boxes, backpacks, messenger bags, hip packs, and trailers.

For those that drop the kids off at school on the way to work there are a number of kid seat options for electric bikes.

If you regularly carry a lot of cargo and/or passengers on the way to and from work then an electric cargo bike may be a good fit because they are built to carry a lot more than the regular eBike.

Here is an article with a more detailed look at all of the cargo and passenger carrying options.

Errands by Electric Bike

Similar to commuting, you will want to map out good biking routes to run errands around town by avoiding high traffic streets.

You will want to get a good lock for keeping your electric bike safe during your time in the store. The common U-Locks and Cable/Chain Locks can provide a solid amount of protection from theft. No lock is foolproof, but U-Locks are generally the highest security style of locks available. 

There are some new lock options like foldable locks, adjustable band locks, zip locks, wheel locks, seat locks, and handlebar locks. The lighter and smaller locks are intended as short term theft deterrent locks for a quick errand stop, not maximum security (you wouldn't use these to lock your bike overnight, for example.)

Work by Electric Bike

This is not commuting to work by electric bike, but rather using an electric bike as your work vehicle!

Electric bikes have become a popular option for restaurant and grocery deliveries in dense urban centers. EBike delivery times can be the same or better than car deliveries.

People who work with Uber Eats, Door Dash, and other delivery services can use an electric bike as a fun and cost effective way to make deliveries. There are even services to help you manage the cost of an eBike; Zoomo offers a monthly subscription service for couriers to keep the initial cost of the eBike low.

Similar to couriers, Zoomo and other companies offer fleets of electric bikes to businesses that use them for deliveries.

If you use your eBike for work then it could be a business expense with some tax benefits; check with your accountant.

Mass Transit

There are times when you may not want to ride your electric bike, for instance if the weather is not cooperating! For those times there are the mass transit options like the bus, train, subway, ferry, etc. These are very economical options for getting around when eBiking is not feasible.

You may find that the money you've saved by not driving most days is more than enough to cover the cost of a transit pass.

When You Need a Car

There are going to be times when you will want a car for longer trips or for transporting large items. It is good to remember that there are more options available these days to “borrow” a car when you need it.

The most classic way is simply renting a car from one of the national car rental companies like Enterprise, Alamo, Hertz, Budget, etc.

One of the newer car rental/sharing companies is Turo where you can rent a car from an individual owner. It's kind of like the "AirBnB of car rental". And there are some fancy and unique cars available so it might be fun to borrow one of those!

An advantage of Turo is that you can see where there are rental cars available near your house to easily pick one up when needed. Some owners will provide delivery of the car to you. Additionally, Turo could be a good money making option if you end up using your electric bike a lot and have your car available for others to rent.

Another car rental/sharing option is Avail that is generally available at major airports.

Zipcar is another car rental option in larger cities. The Zipcars are generally found in neighborhoods and can be rented for hours or days. It's a pretty quick and easy way to borrow a car when you need it.

After car sharing options there are the rideshare options like a taxi, Uber, and Lyft to quickly hail a ride. These are great for getting a quick ride from almost wherever you are.

Home Deliveries

Another way to make eBiking life easier is to have items delivered to you so that you can spend more time having fun riding! The time spent running around town for groceries and other goods can really add up.

Amazon is the big name when it comes to home delivery of goods but almost every business these days has an easy delivery option.

Grocery delivery became popular and more refined during the depths of the pandemic and it can be a good way to save time during the week. There are also grocery pick up options that can still save you time from running all over the store.

Restaurant delivery has been around for a long time but it is now super charged with apps from DoorDash, Uber Eats, Postmates, GrubHub, and more. These apps make it very easy to order exactly what you want and get a realistic time for delivery.

Ride On

So eBiking more and driving less can save you money and it is usually a lot more fun to ride! eBikes may not always work for every transportation need but it is great to have a lot of other options available to us.

When you consider the high costs of car use and ownership it is compelling to consider these other options.

Enjoy your rides!

-Pete