THE ART OF GOING CARLESS
A modern portrait of an e-bike family
It is certainly no secret that, versus the cost of an e-bike, the cost of buying, driving and maintaining a car these days is fairly high. As such, more than a few families have discovered that an e-bike can easily be a proper car replacement for at least one of the cars parked in the driveway. Even riding to work a couple of days per week can save quite a bit of money and offers the benefits of exercise and (hopefully) fresh air.
MEET THE TRAUTWEINS
While a growing number of families learn to rely on one less car, others like the Trautwein family who live in Venice, California, decided to make the leap and forgo cars completely in favor of e-bikes.
Mary Beth initially wanted an e-bike because she started working in nearby Santa Monica and didn’t feel the need to drive a car the short distance every day. With no idea what to look for, she noticed that a friend had a Rad Power e-bike. As she recalls the moment it came to her, “I knew my friend Ferris was smart, as well as being athletic and environmental conscience, so I decided to go out and get my own Rad Power bike!”
“More than a few families have discovered that an e-bike can easily be a proper car replacement for at least one of the cars parked in the driveway.”
Mary Beth picked out a RadMini electric folding bike that rolled on 20-inch fat tires. Luckily, thanks to a government stimulus check, the cost was almost free. She chose an electric bike to make riding easier because of knee issues, and the smaller folding bike because she thought the bigger bikes might be too big for her.
By chance, husband Paul was already an avid cyclist and had occasionally commuted to work on a traditional bike. Though his previous commute was a only a 10-mile trip, the route included a steep climb that added enough effort and time that not only did it take him 90 minutes to arrive, but it also left him drenched in sweat.
Fortunately, with a new job, Paul’s commute is now an even shorter distance that only takes 20 minutes to complete—and there’s no more steep climbs to make!
Recently, after the couple decided to give their last car to their daughter, the couple went out for a ride; Paul on his regular bike and Mary Beth on her e-bike. After she kept easily passing him on the ride, he finally decided that it was time for him to make the jump to an e-bike, and days later he bought a RadCity electric commuter bike.
They can now easily ride together to the farmers’ market, the grocery store or run any other errand on e-bikes. Paul says, “I realized that everything we do is within three miles of our house!”
Santa Monica, as well as the surrounding areas like Venice, is adding more and more bike lanes, including protected ones, making it safer for cyclists, which encourages more people to get on bikes. We asked if they were offered any incentives, and they said they didn’t at the time they bought their bikes.
For anyone thinking of buying an e-bike, the variety of incentives that are becoming increasingly popular are definitely worth looking into. Keep in mind that there may be new incentives on the federal, state and local levels. In fact, congress just passed the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) act, which was spearheaded by representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA). It allows for a refundable tax credit for 30 percent of the cost of a qualified electric bicycle, or up to $1500 per taxpayer less all credits allowed for the two preceding taxable years.
Over in Europe, both France and the UK offer incentives worth up to €2500 (U.S. $3000) for turning in a car and replacing it with an e-bike. That’s more money to go towards the price of many new e-bikes!
FINDING NEW REASONS
The couple truly enjoys their rides around the west side of Los Angeles. Given that Southern California has nice weather year round with very little rain, it makes life without a car a much more reasonable option, making it possible to not need a car. When the Trautweins do need a car to go on trips, they simply rent one or use a ride-share. Easy!
They find more and more reasons to ride their bikes for running errands to just riding for fun. Paul adds, “I know I’ll get there faster than I would on my regular bike, and I won’t be sweaty when I get there.”
Mary Beth admits that she rarely, if ever, folds her bike. Folding fat bikes doesn’t really offer any space savings when folded. She said that if she was to buy a new e-bike now, she’d buy one similar to Paul’s, but she’s still happy with the bike that first made her a convert. In fact, they both are.