My bike is a mobility device – who knew?

As a kid, my bike was for fun. As an adult, I have always thought of myself as a commuter cyclist. I was never interested in road racing, or cross-country cycling or any of the other specialized cycling options involving fancy bikes and Lycra.

I have realized, however, I actually need my bike as a mobility device. I live close enough to my work place that I can walk. Except:

  • when it is too hot
  • or too cold
  • or when the sidewalks are icy
  • or when the sidewalks are unploughed.
  • or I have my laptop and my lunch and who know what else to haul in a backpack.
  • or when it’s raining
  • or when my feet (knees, hips) are sore.
My poor sore feet. The left one has a scar from past bunion surgery. The right one show a growing bunion that will eventually need surgery.

I am not the only one. People who have e-bikes use them for far more than short leisurely rides. A recent study about e-bike use in Norway found that “The people who bought e-bikes increased their bicycle use from 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles) to 9.2 kilometers (5.7 miles) on average per day; a 340% increase. The e-bike’s share of all their transportation increased dramatically too; from 17% to 49%, where they e-biked instead of walking, taking public transit, and driving. You can read more about the study here.

Melissa and Chris Bruntlett are Canadian urban mobility advocates and authors of Building the Cycling City, The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality. In their view “Cycling is, for many people, a powerful mobility tool. Moreover, building wide cycle paths also helps create space for people that are on tricycles, adapted cycles, mobility scooters, and other modes.”

Adult tricycle with two child seats on the back and a wire basket on the handlebars. Photo is by Peter Biczok, who spotted it in Hungary.
An older woman with her hair in a ponytail and wearing a large knapsack rides an electric tricycle in Leiden, Netherlands. The tricycle is laden with packages and bags in the back, on the front and from the handlebars. Photo originally shared by Melissa and Chris Bruntlett on Twitter.
A woman rides a hand-powered adapted electric tricycle in Amsterdam. She is accompanied by a husky-type dog on a leash. Photo originally shared by Melissa and Chris Bruntlett on Twitter.

For now, I am perfectly content with my regular winter and summer bikes to get around. But I can definitely see a an electric bike or a regular/electric cargo bike or trike in my future.

2 thoughts on “My bike is a mobility device – who knew?

  1. I remember when this occurred to me and it was striking. The funny thing is I’m friends with a one legged cyclist who almost always gets around by bike, without a prosthetic leg, so the bike-as-mobility-aid should have been familiar to me.

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