Are Electric Bikes Active Transportation?

Last week I rented an eZee Sprint for a three-day test ride.

I was trying to solve a specific problem. As some of you know, I live in NW Portland and commute occasionally to my employer’s offices in Wilsonville. In recent years I’ve been primarily a telecommuter, at one point telecommuting 9 days out of 10.

But some new responsibilities now have me in the office 2-3 days per week.

My typical commute is a bike-bus combo, most often riding downtown, putting my bike on the #12 to Barbur Transit and then transferring to the Wilsonville SMART system which drops me at my employers door (the somewhat faster trip on the #96 has less convenient times and in good weather the bike racks are often full). But this commute takes longer than I would like if I’m doing it more than once a week.

So I’m looking for a better answer than borrowing my partner’s hybrid…

I thought I could take out some of the transfer time (both downtown and at Barbur) by biking all the way to the transit center, timing my arrival to match that of the SMART bus. But one test trip at my slow uphill pace demonstrated that the trip was going to take more than an hour to the transit center.

So I thought an electric-assist bike might help. In fact, it did. The 350-watt eZee cut my trip time to the transit center in half, just over a half hour.

But… my lingering question is whether it’s going to reduce the amount of exercise that I get. That throttle is awfully tempting – I keep pedaling, but I’d be kidding myself if I thought I was working nearly as hard as if I was doing all the work myself.

I would certainly keep my old Biria city bike, but I worry that I would use the electric more than I need to.

Does anyone have any experience at this trade-off? If so, how did it work out for you? Any active transportation experts out there? What’s the view on this?

P.S. I want to give a shout out to Wakefield Gregg at EbikesNW who gave me great support on the test ride.

35 Responses to Are Electric Bikes Active Transportation?