My name’s Dan, I’ve lived in Canberra most of my life.
With my partner, we wanted to become a one-car family, and I used to ride bikes a lot. In fact, I do like bicycle touring sort of weekend trips, but then had some issues with not stretching and looking after myself. So I actually stopped riding for about 10 years. And then when E-bikes really came into their own, I looked at them and they became a really great solution for me to get back into cycling because they were able to do the heavy lifting, as I relearned and rebuilt my body.
I think the thing that really attracted me to cycling initially was it was a way to get to university and not have to pay for parking. And then while doing it, I realised that was a great way to be outdoors and be active that I didn’t really have time for in my day otherwise. So that was really good for me. I think one of the other things that I really love about cycling, particularly with my daughter now, is it’s a great way for us to connect. I found that when I was travelling with her in the car, we were very disconnected. Or I have to focus on the traffic, the traffic lights, those sorts of things. But being on the bike together was also a really great way to get some time together in the day.
I think one of the things that I really liked about an e-bike was it would mean that if I wasn’t in the mood to cycle, I could ride my bike without much effort. Because sometimes, you know, if you’re finishing work or you’ve had a long day or it’s a bit windy or cold, you don’t really feel that motivation to really ride home. And I found that with the E-bike, it was able to do some of that heavy lifting. If I didn’t have the energy or if there was a headwind or something like that. I do my trip to work on it three days a week, which is great. And I also use it to take my daughter to her childcare, which is really good. And we’ve also started now using it for shopping. So with the panniers on the bike, I can do a shop at the markets or at the supermarket and get a lot of the stuff that we need.
We still fall back on the one car that we use in my house, but we haven’t needed to get a second car through the use of the e-bike. And it doesn’t always work. Sometimes on a weekend, you know, I have to borrow a car from a car-share or from a neighbour or friend that has one if we both really, really need one. But for most trips under 10 kilometres, I prefer to take the bike and in between traffic lights, finding a park, finding my keys, I find that the bike usually takes as much time or only five or ten minutes or more at most. And it also allows me to have a little bit of exercise in my day that I wouldn’t otherwise.
I got a conversion kit with a rear-wheel hub motor and put that on an existing bike that I had. And I really like hybrid bikes because they’re sort of an in-between of a road bike and a mountain bike and they’re quite sturdy and they can carry a lot of weight on them. They’re sort of strong enough to do that. And this bike, particularly I really liked because it had mudguards and a chain guard. So a few things that just prevent your clothes getting dirty if you’re on your way to work or just make things a little bit easier. And then getting a conversion kit allowed me to keep the bike that I’d found and liked and turn that into an e-bike.
Parking the bike at home, we didn’t have any space in a garage or anything like that. So we’ve just got them under the eve of the house, which is fine for most of the time. I’ve got a hook on the side of the house so I can snug the bike under there and that keeps it out of the rain most of the time. And one of the advantages of the conversion kit is I can very easily take the battery off the bicycle. So to charge it up, I just stick the key in and take the battery off and I can charge the battery up at home or at night. When I ride to work, there’s cycle parking there as well. Sometimes I can charge the bike there if I’ve forgotten to charge it at home. But the battery is, I think, about 600 watt hours, so it cost me about ten cents to recharge it from empty and that will take about six or seven hours from empty. But most of the time I’m not using the full battery’s capacity. If I go about 20 kilometres, that’ll probably take two or three hours to recharge.
To set myself up, to make it easy to cycle and to ride the e-bike, I think that the panniers, like the bicycle bags, are probably the best thing because it just makes it very easy to carry stuff. And I particularly like a bag that I got recently that easily converts from sort of a satchel to a pannier. So that means I can have everything I need to carry around with me, particularly with my daughter right there, and that can just go off and on the bike sort of seamlessly.
Other things that I think are really critical are a good light. So the nice thing about this E-bike is that it’s got a light that can be integrated into it. So that’s really good. And I also really like what they call a fuel tank bag, which just sits under the crossbar. And that’s a little waterproof bag that I’ve got a little tool for if I need to adjust anything on the bike. I’ve got a rear light in case the visibility or I’m out later than I think I need to be. I’ve got an emergency inflation canister so that if I get a flat tire and I’m on the way to work and I need to rush, I’ve learnt that sometimes you don’t have time to stop for 15 or 20 minutes and change the tire. So those emergency kits are really great way to very quickly get back on the road.
Some of the biggest benefits for me in terms of cycling rather than driving, one is definitely the activity that it brings to my day. So it’s made it much easier for me to get sort of recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day, and particularly in terms of breaking up my day. I find it really good whether it’s morning drop-off or afternoon pick-up or just like a midday trip to the shops, it’s a real change of scene, whereas if I’m going from the desk to the driver’s seat to the desk or sitting at the table again, it doesn’t really have that same break-up to it.
I also think it’s a really great way to just get around in terms of meeting people, seeing things, maybe doing stops that you wouldn’t do otherwise. I find in my trips in the car, often very transactional. I’m just going from point A to point B. I find with the bike, you know, we might discover a little playground with my daughter or we might ride past a shop that we hadn’t seen before. And those sorts of things I think are really beneficial.
I also think cycling rather than driving, I find cycling a very relaxing activity, whereas I often don’t find driving that relaxing because I feel like I need to be much more alert and conscious of what’s going on. Lots of things. Yeah. I think one thing that really draws me to cycling and one thing that we’re really interested in trying to be a one-car family rather than a two-car family is being able to travel with and be more sustainable. So it’s a really great way that I can personally take climate action by making sure I’m reducing my impact on my day-to-day sort of trips.
I think for me, the hardest thing about cycling was just those times in those days when maybe it’s a bit cold or it’s a bit windy or you really just don’t feel like cycling. I think definitely having the e-bike has helped me overcome a lot of that because the bike can do a lot of that work. If I’m not in the mood, I can just sort of set it to maximum and I don’t really have to put so much effort in. You know, being cold is also something a lot of people don’t like. So by making sure that I have gloves or a good scarf, a good jacket that I can ride with, I think that’s really good. That’s a good excuse to wear a flash leather jacket, so I like that quite a lot as well.
I think often with a lot of things like cycling or even running when people get into it and I was guilty of this, you just sort of get in, all in and do it all at once. And actually, when I got the E-bike, I had a bit more of a staggered approach of, you know, try to use it one day a week. And then after a while, I was able to come two and able to come three, rather than, you know, previously it was easy to just go really hard and then sort of couldn’t do anything or be a bit burnt out on it.
If there’s anyone that’s thinking about cycling rather than driving, I definitely think go for it. But I think it’s a really great thing to maybe start doing on the weekend. I found that was a really great way to get back into it because I didn’t have the stress of how I’m going to be late to work or I’m not going to be able to get to where I need to be on time. So going on the weekend was a great way for me to test my abilities, find out what I needed to do and adjust. And then I was able to sort of build that up more into my life. And as I said, it gives me more time to do other things because I can multitask a little bit on the bicycle, whether it’s listening to something or calling a friend or catching up with my daughter. That’s a great way to do that while I travel.
I did have a few concerns and safety discussions with my partner when we started travelling on the bike with my daughter, but when I looked into it, there was no difference and in fact, maybe even less dangerous than taking her in the car. We got given that front seat by a friend and she really liked it, my daughter. So that was basically what we really used to inform how we would travel with her. I haven’t used a rear seat, but, we might give it a go. We did used to travel with a trailer a little bit, but, I found it was just one other thing that I had to deal with in terms of packing the trailer, setting it up, connecting it to putting her in. And I didn’t have that connection with her that I get when she’s at the front on the bicycle. But definitely, your children will tell you which mode they prefer. And I think that going forward we’ll maybe look at getting a front-loading cargo bike for her to travel in with me because you can actually cover up the kids. So if there’s inclement weather or it starts to get colder, she doesn’t have to be exposed to the elements so much in that sort of setup. So I’m keen to try one of those out with her and see if that’s a good solution when she outgrows the front seat.
I think the greatest thing about cycling with my daughter is we get to have a lot of fun and adventure in our travel. And I really don’t feel like we get that so much in the car. So whether it’s making games as we go up hills or looking out for birds or talking about things like the mountains that are around us, I think that that’s something I really wouldn’t get if I was with her in the car in the same way. So that’s something that we really love. And it also means I can eat all her leftovers, which I generally end up doing without becoming unhealthy. So I think that’s a really great aspect of it as well.
Hey, Maolin, do you like riding on your bike with your dad?
What’s the most fun thing about riding with your dad?
Going down hills.
And do you play games with your dad?
What sort of games do you play?
You pretend to peddle that. Sometimes we sing travelling songs.