Do I Really Need An Electric Car?

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By Desley O’Grady, Councillor for Gladstone Regional Council, Patron for Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail, Central Queensland Rep for Rail Trails Australia. The following is an extended response/article from an interview I conducted with Desley.

Do I really need an electric car? Will an ebike suffice?

I have only had my Trek Rail 5 dual-suspension e-bike since March 2022. I am just loving it. I am heavily involved in the establishment of the Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail, which spans from Taragoola near Calliope to Gayndah, a length of 270 km when totally completed. The Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail group has opened the Dawes Range section, which is from Barrimoon to Builyan with 6 beautiful tunnels that are 100 years old. The group is just about to open the section between Gayndah & Mundubbera. A rail trail is an old disused railway without the railway sleepers & tracks.

I was riding my manual bike quite often on the rail trail, but when doing a lot of cycling on the rail trail with not much time up my sleeve, I thought an ebike was the way to go.

Desley on ebike on rail trail
Desley in front of 100-year-old rail trail tunnel.

I ride to the gym every morning. I would have driven if I didn’t have my bike. And if I have time, I ride around the town on the way home. I cover about 16 km. Before owning my Trek ebike, I would never have ever thought of doing this. People think it’s cheating, but even with assisted pedaling, you still have to pedal to stay upright!

Most of the time, I don’t use the electric, but when there are hills, I appreciate the assistance. There are different assistance settings, all depending on what you are confronted with. I also do my shopping, call to the bottle shop on occasions, ride to visit friends, and ride out to my daughter’s house, which is 18 km each way when I have a day off. She cooks a lovely breakfast for me.

Seeing the country on an ebike
An ebike can get you out into the country.

I haven’t had a flat battery as yet, but I have heard if you’re efficient you can get about 100 km out of a charge. My manual bike weighed about 11 kg, the ebike weighs 23 kilos, so I don’t plan to get a flat battery — as it would be hard going, but doable.

My husband has ordered an ebike as well, so we are looking forward to when it arrives and we can do some cycling together. He is getting a Powerfly, which is a hard tail (only front suspension).

I have done well over 500 km since purchasing my bike from M1 Cycles Gladstone. They were very professional and let me take their demo bike out and about for a few days prior to purchasing my own bike.

I posed the question to you at Ecofest about including an option to charge electric bikes at charging stations, as bikepacking is become very popular and I wondered how people with ebikes got on with charging their bike when on the road. (Check the end of the video in that article above.) I do understand you couldn’t use the car charger, but if there was a power point mounted on the station, it might be helpful to ebike users.

Desley on e Scooter at ECOfest
Desley at Ecofest having fun on an e-scooter.

During this week, I have sent Mark Bailey (Queensland’s Minister for Transport) an email asking him if he has considered this for the charging stations. Hopefully I will get a reply back soon. I have asked if there was a 12 volt charger for ebikes, as we are caravaners, so we are fully off the grid when we are away. We have an inverter, but when we need the power to charge ebikes is when the sun isn’t shining. We now have lithium batteries in the van, so we are hoping we will have much better charging power.

There will be no designated power points on the Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail, as the trails are quite remote, but the “Hub” in Gayndah (which is the goods shed, sited at the old railway station) is fully solar powered and charging can be sourced from this facility for ebikes. If bikepacking, you would have to rely on stopping at one of the small country towns along the way. The Rail Trail is fantastic for the economy of the small towns along the track.

Yes, I could have bought a small car with the $7500 I paid for my optioned up ebike, but it gets you to places you can’t get to with a small car, and riding is great for your mental health & well-being.

Cr Desley O’Grady has been self-employed for many years in Calliope, a small town west of Gladstone. Prior to the 2016 local government elections, several people contacted her and encouraged her to run for the local council, so she threw her hat in the ring and was elected.

She enjoys being a voice for the community and also a voice for the environment. Desley lives in an area of great natural beauty at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, surrounded by marine parks, national parks, industry, & primary industry.

Since being elected in 2016, she has represented council on many different levels, such as Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership, Local Marine Advisory committee, Audit & Risk committee, Gladstone Regional Air Quality, the Saiki Sister City program, Reef Councils, Philip Street Precinct advisory, and of course Ecofest.

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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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