My name is Clare. I work and I’ve got three kids, I live in Garran.
I’ve cycled to work in other cities. I used to cycle in London and Sydney but I wasn’t cycling in Canberra because I had kids who had to be picked up from different places. And also it was taking 45 minutes and that was a bit too far. But I missed it because what I really love about cycling is being outside through the seasons, particularly here in Canberra, in nature. It’s such a beautiful city.
But I felt it was too complicated to cycle. I thought about getting an electric bike but hadn’t done anything about it. Then I found this option where you could trial a bike for a week. So I saw how it fit into my schedule and found that it was really easy. I found a route that was better and it only took half an hour. And now I really love it because it means that I exercise every day and I build it into my routine without actually having to make time for it. And we’re all so busy it’s really hard to make time to get to the gym and do everything that needs to be done. Now it’s a mandatory part of my day.
I actually get really disappointed if for some reason I can’t cycle – I miss that half hour of being outside in nature, doing exercise before I get to work. I use it for going to work, for trips to the shops or around and about when previously I would have been driving. Two of my kids get the bus to school and one of them walks, although I do still use the car for picking up from sport and other activities. I’d love my oldest son to get an e-bike instead of getting a car when he’s 17. But that’s a tough gig because there’s so much peer pressure about getting cars. But I am certainly encouraging my kids to cycle around the local area.
I had a shopping list of things that I wanted from my bike – something that allowed me to wear my work clothes, so that I could wear a skirt and not have to get changed into a whole new outfit, so I didn’t want a bar across. I wanted something that was quite sturdy as I had to go on a bit of rough ground. I wanted different speeds. I’m usually carrying things like a laptop and I carry a lot of shopping so it needs to be able to transport things. The main reason I chose this bike was partly because I was able to trial it beforehand and I found that was really helpful because it is a bit of an outlay to buy an electric bike and that gave me the confidence that it would fit in with my life and actually satisfy everything I needed it to do.
At home, I park in the garage and at work there’s a lock up storage area. You can take the battery off. So when I get home, if it needs to charge, I plug it in and it takes about five hours. I charge it every couple of days. It’s really easy.
I make sure that I’ve got panniers ready so that it’s really easy to store things. As I said, I wear my normal clothes. One of the great things about having an electric bike is you don’t have to have a shower. So it fits into my day. I wear a high vis jacket so that I’m noticeable, but it actually doesn’t require much accommodation. It’s pretty much just built into my life now. And I get so many benefits in terms of wellbeing and physical fitness, not to mention the environmental benefits.
Probably the hardest thing is the psychological barrier of it being really cold in winter. I thought that I wouldn’t want to cycle right through winter, but actually it’s just about having the right gear. I wear ski gloves and I’ve got this jacket and it’s fine. You’re getting fresh air and I actually really enjoy it, even on cold mornings now.
A lot of us are working in offices and living quite sedentary lives. And we’re spending a lot of time inside. And I love the fact that cycling means that every day you’re getting outside in nature, seeing the seasons, experiencing differences in the environment and also it’s really good for exercise. There’s a whole lot of wellbeing benefits from cycling that I think are really undervalued. Also, I love the fact that it’s emissions neutral, so it’s much better for the environment. I used to drive to work and I feel so much better about cycling in so many ways.
I’d say to others just give it a try. It’s really easy to think, “I’ll do it one day”. But if you can trial an electric bike or a bike for a week now and see how it fits into your life, you might be surprised at how easy it is and how much better it makes you feel. It gives you endorphins and it’s a really positive experience.
The other real benefit is you don’t have to worry about parking. All that rushing to get to work before nine a.m. is no longer an issue because you can come and go and you don’t have to worry about finding a parking space because there’s bike parks all over the place.