Alec Darr is the Viking eBike project’s spring 2016 commuter and a Western senior majoring in Vehicle Design. In the early planning stages of the Viking eBike project, Alec expressed interest in trying an electric bike for his commute to school instead of driving his car. We managed to recruit him to help with the technical aspects of the project as well, and now he’s our first commuter. In exchange for the use of the bike, Alec completed an intake form which asks about his current habits and expectations for biking. During the quarter, he will complete weekly trip reports which, together with maintenance records, will allow us to answer questions like: “How much will I save by riding”? “What maintenance should I expect and how much will it cost”? And finally, Alec will contribute occasional blog posts about his experience. Here is his first installment. Thanks, Alec.
Ever since I started at Western, I have traveled from my apartment about three miles from school by car, parked in the southern C lots and then walked into class. If you had asked me to commute to and from campus on a bike instead of in a car, I would have told you in no uncertain terms that getting to school on the bike is slower. This is because when I compared a bike to a car, I was comparing the time it takes from the moment I’m in my car to the moment I park instead of the total time from where I live to where I’m going on campus. I accounted for the travel time to the C lots sure, but my false assumption was that the higher speed of my car would at the very least get to me class at the same time, for far less effort than the bike.
The reality is that with the electric assist the overall effort of riding to school is lower and my overall speed is higher than a conventional bike while also getting me to class about 10 minutes faster than if I drove. The key part of the previous statement is the “minutes.” I am not for a minute suggesting the Solexity has a higher top speed or that it can keep pace with a car outside of a 25mph zone. But what I have learned is that my average speed for the entire trip is much higher on an e-bike than commuting by car.