E-Bike Evolution: Lifestyles and Lifecycles

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If e-bikes are the answer, what’s the question? It all depends. We caught up with one Arlington mom who has solved many of her evolving daily transportation challenges by e-bike. Learn about how e-bike ownership checked all the boxes and simplified daily tasks for this Arlington commuter.

Have you been considering an e-bike but need a little convincing? No urgent need or desire to change your routine? Hard to justify the cost? Lack the bandwidth for another learning curve?  Looking for a compelling testimonial to bring you around? Read on…

Judging by the number of e-bikes already in use, whether as delivery vehicles, as a Bikeshare option, or as a primary transportation mode, many riders are already convinced. That’s the case with Christiann, whose lifelong love of bicycling has informed her transportation decision-making through every age and stage.

Christiann and her daughter have logged quite a few miles on one bike or another. But the pathway to e-bikes for this veteran cyclist has been anything but direct. If you follow the throughline, her story might just provide you with some incentives for moving/e-volving? in the same direction.

Meet Christiann

What’s your biking origin story?

I started biking for fun as a kid, then for exercise in my late teens and early twenties. I lived in Reston and would bike the W&OD Trail instead of taking public transit to DC. After I moved to Arlington, I started biking to DC more, but I never felt safe enough to commute to work during rush hour.

What changed?

Around 2010, my husband and I bought matching Trek hybrid bikes. I’m a small person, so I got a small bike designed for people from 5’ 3” to 5’ 6” tall, but in my opinion, fine for riders as short as 4’10”.  That extra-small bike was a game-changer. Then I got pregnant and decided to play it safe and take a break from biking for a while.

What brought you back to biking?

I returned to biking when my daughter was a toddler, adding a front-mounted child seat to my cute Trek bike. That worked great until my bike got stolen at the start of the pandemic in April 2020 – a very sad time. I rebounded and got myself a new folding bike, which I could keep in my small, townhouse-style condo. It actually fits under a table! Of course, with the pandemic, we were getting a little crazy. Biking was a great way to get outdoors and get exercise, while staying socially distant—all possible thanks to my folding bike and front-mounted child seat.

When did you first try an e-bike?

By the time my daughter weighed 40 pounds, I knew I needed to change things up if we were going to keep biking. That’s when I decided to get an e-bike. Once again, I was looking for a small bike, under 65 pounds, that could fold. I managed to find one that’s only 56 pounds. It doesn’t take up much room in the house, it fits in my Honda Fit, and it’s light enough that I can lift and carry it without much trouble. Now I have another one that’s even smaller – 38 pounds with 14-inch wheels! It’s not as fast, but it works for me to run errands and short trips.

How does the e-bike work with your daughter?

So far so good. I take her on it about 3-4 times a week. We’re not ready for her to bike to school on her own yet – it’s three miles away and a hilly, high-traffic route. But we use the e-bike for fun outings, like riding to the National Mall, out to eat, or anywhere we want to go together. Now that she’s bigger, the e-bike makes it easier for me to carry her too. Some people might prefer cargo bikes, but for my urban neighborhood and tiny house, the foldable e-bike is best.

What matters most to me is that I can carry my kid on a bike that’s safe — plus my kid feels safe on it, it fits in my house, and it doesn’t weigh a ton!

Can you offer any tips for parents and other folks who are still on the bike seat/fence about e-bikes?

I could nerd out on bikes, but here are my take-aways:

  1. Go to a bike store and talk to a person.
  2. If you are looking for a bike that can carry your kid, try a bike store that specializes in family cycling.
  3. If you want to do research first, check out online resources like
    • Pedego
    • Electric Bike Review (this site offers a filter function to help narrow down options)
    • Watch YouTube videos on electric bikes.
  4. Look for videos featuring riders who are your size and fitness level
  5. Look for videos featuring locations similar to where you will be riding (urban, trail, etc.)
  6. Spend some time near a busy bike trail and observe e-bikes in use; if possible, ask if you can take a photo of their bike and use the opportunity to ask questions.
  7. Consider a refurbished e-bike to save money.

Judging by Christiann’s experience and endorsement, there’s an e-bike to fit every lifestyle, with opportunities for evolution throughout every lifecycle.

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