I recently had an unusual experience. I was in my dining room, reading some mail, when a large jolt hit. I immediately thought it was an earthquake, which is common enough here in California, but then I heard tire squeaks. I knew someone had run into our building with a vehicle. I quickly ran downstairs and saw that my elderly neighbor had smashed into the wall in front of her parking space. 

Behind that wall was the massive hot-water heater for the building. The scene was like something out of a movie; there was water spraying everywhere, including from a pipe in the ceiling that had been dislodged. My poor neighbor was stuck in her car, so I helped her out, while one neighbor called the management company and another took the rattled but okay neighbor up to sit down. I had to go through a waterfall to get to the hot-water heater to shut off the gas.

We all made sure the neighbor was okay, and we checked in on her for the next couple of days. Although our water was turned on and off over the next few days, there were no complaints. In fact, we all came together over this. It showed how well people come together and help each other in a crisis. 

“There are more people out there getting on e-bikes now more than ever, and we need to be welcoming, but we also need to make friends with them and ride with them.” 

This was just a microcosm of something that I lived through almost 30 years ago with the Northridge earthquake, which I can tell you from experience was the worst alarm clock ever! Transformers were exploding outside, it sounded like a freight train running through the middle of my apartment, and everything in every room was tossed into the middle. There was no moon, so it was basically pitch black and you couldn’t see in the city. 

I got dressed and put on my shoes (only later to discover it was a tennis shoe and a hiking boot!) and helped a couple of neighbors out of their places safely. I rode my bike to check on some friends, who were all okay, and everywhere I looked everyone was helping each other. It was so nice to see, because unlike the Midwest towns where I grew up, in a big city like Los Angeles, people tend to be less friendly. More often, everyone seems to have their guard up walking around. The earthquake changed that. I noticed people being more friendly to one another, offering support and volunteering to help people in need. It turned one of the biggest cities in the world into a small town. 

There’s a true message of hope with that. We need to apply this to the cycling industry and e-bikes in general. There are more people out there getting on e-bikes now more than ever, and we need to be welcoming, but we also need to make friends with them and ride with them to help make them more knowledgeable about bike skills, trail etiquette, maintenance, and all the things that go into a great bike riding experience. The more people who ride bikes, the more infrastructure will be built to make riding safer and easier.

Electric bicycles are the best possible form of transportation if we’re looking to electrify the country. They use less energy than cars, they’re much less expensive, and generally have a smaller carbon footprint. We could alleviate some of the pressures of high gas prices and potential problems with the electrical grid by using bikes over cars when possible. Riding to commute or run errands is a great way to get exercise, practice your skills, and have a great time riding with friends. Encourage your friends to get bikes and join you on rides.