Rachael Naismith: Electric bikes are a great way to get exercise

Published: 7/16/2019 9:30:24 PM

I was recently on the rail trail, riding one of the ValleyBike Share electric-assisted bikes with my husband (on a regular bike). We passed a man who reprimanded me, saying “No electric bikes on the rail trail!”

As a person who believes in following the rules, I was surprised and upset. On the way back, I noticed a sign that said “No motor vehicles with the exception of Class I electric assist bikes.” When I got home I did a little research. E-bikes provide exercise to people who are trying to get into cycling, people with disabilities, individuals who are overweight and out of shape, and people whose dislike of hills prevents them from biking on regular bikes.

It is especially appealing to older folks, many of whom do not feel safe biking on city streets. Many physical therapists recommend biking to patients with knee problems, and getting an assist can make that possible. It is exercise! You still have to turn those pedals.

And Class I bikes have a speed cap of 20 mph. If you want to go faster, you have to use your muscles to get there. Furthermore, I felt I had as much control over the e-bike as I have ever felt on a regular bike. The website railstotrails.org says, “E-bikes can grant people with physical limitations new recreation or transportation options.” And they don’t burn fossil fuels the way cars do.

I assume that e-bike stations are popping up all over the Valley to encourage folks to exercise and to give people a fairly inexpensive way to get places they need to go. If you see a person on an e-bike, please don’t make assumptions that they are lazy or inept. Let’s not “fit-shame” people who are trying to do something to get in shape, enjoy the outdoors and improve balance and mental health.

If you see me on an e-bike, just give me a smile, and I’ll gladly return it.

Rachael Naismith


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