Gliding easily down the street with my backpack full of groceries, my e-bicycle from Jetson seemed safe enough. I was biking on a street with sparse traffic flow. The new Jetson Journey Electric Bike whizzed lightly and intuitively down the street on the edge of the slightly gentrifying neighborhood.
I’ve bicycled since I was five — but due to injuries have not in about 3 years. So, I was happily and successfully back on the metaphorical horse years after a bad fall.
It is often a lovely, lonely street. So, in a small city — often with a lack of consideration for pedestrians and bicyclists — I found a safe passage for a biker.
I have had a lifelong preference for pedestrian life, mass transit, and bicycling — rather than the car-centric culture of the US — but I have had cars and driven much of my life. I had 3 children before I finally got a car, but parenting responsibilities brought a change — I had to drive Zachary 35,000 miles in one year to soccer tournaments.
My children became strong walkers as well. Some of them love biking, others have preferred transit or long walks.
Still, living in Florida, I have spent many hours, days, weeks driving — most recently in a Nissan LEAF for three years, which was a bubble of relief from driving gasoline cars. It was a relief from contributing to particulate pollution and carcinogenic emissions. Many have felt forced to drive such cars even while being slightly and uncomfortably aware that they are betraying their children, but improved electric cars are making it easier to drop that bad habit, and so are electric bikes.
I have bicycle lanes on roads where I bike, but this is what I would prefer to those small bicycle lanes:
A bit more #Medellin … nice, hard, green protection for bikes. Wide, level crossings for pedestrians. Curbs being extended. And you gotta love people who sneak a happy cyclist into their planning maps. pic.twitter.com/3zOe3K7cul
— Mikael Colville-Andersen (@colvilleandersn) October 26, 2018
One light cycle outside of #rushhour so less busy and it's fall break so many Copenhageners are spending some of their 6 weeks of holiday. But this is what rush hour should sound like. Squeaky bikes. And the light this morning had an amazing #Nordic feel. #Copenhagen pic.twitter.com/ls6dYuVGHW
— Mikael Colville-Andersen (@colvilleandersn) October 17, 2018
What’s not to love about Colville-Andersen’s vision of urbanization?
More modernity from #Medellin . Cycle track not even finished and kids on it. Parking becoming park. #DesireLine became stairs with bike ramps. Level crossings for pedestrians and more. At least one dept in @Areametropol is planning for a better future pic.twitter.com/7iyS7Kttsk
— Mikael Colville-Andersen (@colvilleandersn) October 26, 2018
Back to the car-centric culture of the US (and in particular the state I live in presently).
Zach kept asking me what I was going to drive after the Nissan LEAF lease ended (we returned the car a little more than a week ago), and each time I went mute, musing in my mind about my brain. I kept thinking of all the CleanTechnica and Planetsave posts I read or wrote on aging and cognitive decline.
James Ayres always put it straight with his kind sobriety of thought, and I became inclined to take his advice:
“Bike commuting is one of the most effective ways to promote general health, according to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. That’s not a surprise of course, as anyone who spends a lot of time bicycling knows. And of course bicycling has another significant advantage over many other types of exercise — you don’t have to set apart any extra time, you simply bicycle rather than taking the car.”
I’ve recovered better than a lot of people from more than my fair share of concussions. Still, a thought is always ticking in my consciousness — what more can I do for my brain? The brain and bicycling have a powerful connection. I reread what I had written and felt there was one correct choice for the mild winter of Florida — to transport myself around by bicycle and some mass transit, even if Colville -Andersen’s influence has not yet made its way to Florida.
“Bicycling gently bounces the head, increasing healthy circulation between the right and left hemispheres of the brain — back and forth — balancing and calming the mind. This method of travel also lifts depression and stress, pushing it to the periphery of one’s aura and on out.”
I’m now a few weeks into my e-bicycle mass transit combo. I feel my muscles toning up, my heart pumping more during my commutes, and yes, I find the Jetson Journey to be wonderful. It has several speeds of assist. Usually, I keep it on the lowest — just so I can move a bit more quickly with electric torque through busier intersections. I want to use my muscles.
Today, I was a bit short on time to get to the bus (and going a longer, more dangerous distance I chose to use the mass transit combo), so I upped the pedal-assist and indeed felt a bit speedy flying through the quiet street. I just made the bus and a gentleman traveler offered to help me load it onto the front of the bus quickly. The Jetson performs well and I felt I had control even with the speedier movement.
The good news is I am enjoying my newfound car-free freedom as much as I hoped. The sad news is my conversation with the beautiful grandmother bus driver. I have often wondered how the county treats mass transit employees. I inquired and she replied it’s a trouble due to more privatization. Hard-working, helpful drivers (in good standing) such as she will lose retirement. Not all will, but there are some that will, like her.
She said to me, “With these changes, it’s lucky my children are older — I would not have been able to support them on my salary as it is now, even full time.” That is a hard-working, helpful, customer-friendly mass transit driver. It is more than unsettling that she does not make a more comfortable salary as a county employee with good benefits. I wish she could afford a Tesla on her salary — which she said she would prefer to drive off duty. I also wish she drove an all-electric, zero-emissions bus.
Luckily, after a day of bicycle commuting — at least 8 miles each way on a bicycle — my brain is not as down as some days from contemplating the state of the union. The bicycling seems to be helping.
Images of Jetson e-bicycle by Cynthia Shahan