The popularity surrounding electric cars is growing rapidly in a society aiming to "go green." Models like the Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius, and Nissan Leaf are becoming more affordable than their predecessors as the battery technology improves. Of course, the price tags are still astronomical compares to gasoline-powered cars on the market. As an everyday commuter, is an electric car worth the price tag? Are there other forms of transportation that might be more economical or practical? It's difficult for a car owner to ditch the automobile for a different form of transportation. However, the benefits of riding something like an electric bike as a commuter vehicle can help to bring about a healthy change in one's lifestyle, as well as a shift to "greener" living.
This goes without saying, but the average electric bike is around $2,000. Compared to the modestly priced Prius (over $20,000) or the glamorous Tesla electric car (over $50,000!), this is a drop in the pond for electric power. True, electric bikes do not have as much range as electric cars, but with the average commuter traveling two miles per day to work, the Lithium-powered electric bikes are sufficient for the job.
Replacement batteries also need to be factored into the cost of an electric vehicle. For an electric car, replacement Lithium batteries can range from $5,000 to a whopping $12,000! The estimated lifetime of these batteries is approximately five years, depending on the car, so these costs can quickly add up for the unsuspecting commuter. Though electric bike batteries lack the power to push a car, they only cost around $500 for a Lithium battery that can power a person up to twenty miles on a single charge. Conveniently, the average lifespan of these batteries is between two and five years. It sure beats the price of gas.
Switching from a regular car to an electric car probably won't change a person's daily habits. Switching from a car to an electric bicycle, on the other hand, can really whip a person into shape who isn't quite used to a daily dose of exercise. Of course, an electric bike isn't going to feel like running on the treadmill, but just pedaling along with an electric motor can stimulate aerobic exercise for twenty or thirty minutes a day. This is enough to increase heart rate, speed up the metabolism, and give a person some energy to start off the day. Who can say the same for driving a car? (Aside from maybe NYC cab drivers...)
With obesity turning into a chronic problem in America, a simple thirty minutes on an electric bike is an easy way to stay in shape. Using an electric bike as an everyday commuter is also a great way to enjoy the outdoors without having to show up to work dripping in sweat. For anyone that wants to get a bigger workout, the electric power can be turned off and the bike can be pedaled like a regular bike.
In New York City, with over eight million people crammed into a small island, there's a premium price for parking. Keeping any kind of car in a city, either electric or gas-powered, can be expensive. Permits are required almost anywhere, and street parking is practically impossible. An electric bike, on the other hand, can be parked at any bike rack (provided a strong lock is used). Many buildings now have indoor bike parking, and there are even folding electric bikes that can fit easily into tiny Manhattan apartments. The sheer convenience of an electric bike alone is almost incentive enough to never drive a car again.
It's hard to grasp a life without an automobile, but the sheet cost of an electric car may push more people to start riding a bicycle to work instead. Maybe someday in the future, electric cars will be more practical. For now, an electric bike is affordable, fun, and convenient.