I’ve only been in London three months and yet somehow, I’ve already developed an intense dislike for the TFL notifications that pop up on my phone. Squishing yourself into a breath powered sauna, enduring an awkward closeness to strangers, as though someone turned on the lights in a club all while being propelled forward at frightening speeds means you’ve just paid for the worst carnival ride ever.
Yet we continue to it every day and tell yourself it’s a part of ‘the London Life’. I can tell you that I did not move from regional Western Australia to spend my time in one of the greatest cities in the world, thirty meters underground. Perhaps it was my stubbornness to accept this lifestyle and desire to be amongst the city as much as possible that may have led me to discover a truly life-changing invention. The Electric Bike.
What the devil is an E-Bike?
Every day the lovely little café I work from in Southwark (The Gentlemen Baristas Coffee Store) receives a delivery of pastries and sandwiches from their kitchen just down the road. But if it wasn’t my acknowledgement of the food’s arrival, I would never have made such a discovery.
“That’s a cool bike” I said to the waiter as he grabbed a freshly baked cinnamon bun for me.
“Yeah, it’s an e-bike” he stated. The look of perplexity on my face was enough to spark an explanation. (Keep in mind, the last time I rode a bike was in 2010 when I was late to catch my school bus – I have no idea what makes a bike ‘cool’ let alone what an e-bike is). An E-bike he told me, is an electrically powered bicycle that can be ridden with pedal force or with the assistance of energy. These particular bikes were supplied by VOLT.
How many pints?
My curiosity was ignited. I’d never been tempted to ride a bike, but I’ve found myself embracing a lot of changes since emigrating. What is it that makes an electric bike more desirable than a regular bike? And how does it help me? I decided to dig a little deeper. VOLT state that their batteries can be recharged up to 1000 times and only taking 4 hours to do so meaning you can do this off-peak for around 7 pence. Each battery lasts 60 miles (80 miles if you opt larger battery) giving me roughly 10 days of power. With my basic mental maths abilities, I punched some numbers. If you, like me, pay £5.80 a day to the TFL but swap to cycling with an e-bike you could save a whopping £143.00 a month (and over £1700 a year).
That can get you around 350 pints of beer (in London), or a return flight anywhere in the world. Do I have your attention now?
Do you really need more convincing?
A recent study done in the US showed that electric bikes are roughly 6 times more energy efficient than trains and a ridiculous 18 times more efficient than petrol vehicles. And if energy consumption isn’t on your mind, it should be; global warming is very quickly creating climate extremes like the wild-fires we just witnessed in California, that’s fast become our new normal. It’s imperative that everyone accepts their impact on the environment and start making small changes. In fact, it seems electric bikes reward you with time; these beauties reach speeds of 16mph meaning that you can almost maintain the same speed as the car traveling beside you.
Seeing as I’ve never seen money slip away from me as easily as it does here in London, this should be reason enough, but the biggest benefit for me won’t be the extra cash. My unfortunate obsession with cinnamon buns and a multitude of other sins has resulted in my carrying of extra weight and with cardiovascular disease still accounting to over 400 deaths a day in the UK alone, I need to get moving – and move is what I did.
The start of an e-volution
A quick trip into the VOLT store in London Bridge proved to be my best decision since arriving here (apart from purchasing a raincoat). I was greeted with the warmest of welcomes from their team, I admitted my lack of riding experience concerned me, but they calmed my nerves with the knowledge that e-bikes are in fact safer and easier to ride than their pedal-powered predecessors. They even mentioned how easy it is to ride in London with the use of the bicycle superhighways.
They seem like mystical 4 lane tracks only open to those who are brave enough to don Lycra. Are they hidden to the pedestrian eye? Or had I simply never taken notice of them? This, I am very excited to discover.
At the same time I’ve agreed with VOLT (for a small fee 😊) I would write about my learnings and adventures in London from the seat of an e-bike. I assure you that there will be tribulations and laughs aplenty as I attempt to navigate my way around, but I invite you to join me next time when I get to ride my very first electric bike.
We’d love you to join the ebike revolution! You can check out VOLT’s beautiful crafted bikes here! Let us know in the comments how you got started on an e-bike – I’m going to need all the advice I can get!