Since we’ve all been asked to stay home, stay healthy, or any permutation of those words due to the current pandemiscape, I’ve been sitting here and mulling over my biggest issue.
I’ve been wanting to get a new e-bike or similar so that I can get around town easier, because I do have to occasionally go out to buy groceries or pick up prescriptions.
Since I refuse to do mail order on anything that could be considered seriously essential, like my insulin and my glucose sensors, that means I have to be able to get to places to get those. I have access to our paratransit services, but trips have to be planned in advance, and the return trip often leaves me waiting at the store for 30-45 minutes when I just want to be back home, in relative safety.
I had mulled over an e-bike or two, since the disbursement of the stimulus checks, but what I kept coming up with bothered me: I’d get either a bike that is physically smaller than what I need, or I’d pay enough to have thrown funds at a used car with car insurance and fuel costs covered for three to six months.
I had looked at things like the RadRunner 1, which, while it’s certainly a nice looking, approachable bike, worries me because I’m near their suggested upper weight limit before I start using the bike for what I want to use it for: Picking up groceries and my prescriptions. Their RadWagon, while it offered a slightly larger payload capacity, is currently sold out.
I rejected any e-bike with a 36 volt battery system, because I’ve already had 36 volts. It gets you started in the world of electric bicycles, but you can quickly tell that the bulk of the bikes have anemic drivetrains and no real energy to help you in the spots that you could use it the most, like needing to cycle up onto the connector bridge in my neighborhood. So this took a lot of the inexpensive bargain imports off the board, like Ancheer, Nakto, and Ecotric.
Likewise, I rejected any folding bike, because I’m large and the folding hinge is an extra weak point on a bike that I don’t need if I’m not going to fold it very often, if at all.
While mulling those over, I also started giving thought to the e-scooters that are out there, particularly the sit down models. More of those are designed to support additional weight, often up to 450 pounds (204 kilograms), and offer travel ranges between 20 and 40 miles on a single charge.
I looked at kick e-scooters as well, but just about all of them (a few brands excluded) all suffer a “Maximum Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)” limit. This makes them unsuitable for my purpose, being above that weight by a decent amount.
I found one kick scooter, though, that boasted a maximum load of 320 pounds (145 kg), which would do for mixed mode transportation to cover short runs to the closest pharmacy and back, or to the bus stop a mile away to get to one of the two nearest grocery stores.
I won’t bless or curse the company with a name here, however: I bought one of their refurbished models, and it arrived physically broken. Not cosmetic damage, as they implied on their site, but broken latch, so I couldn’t even unfold the handlebar into a usable position. I paid UPS $10 to pick it back up next day and ship it back to the company, who decided they’ll repair it, and should be sending it back to me.
So, while that was going on, I kept eyeballing some of the sit down scooters, and kept coming across these fat tire units, usually with the name CityCoco attached.
I decided that, well, hell with it, I’ll bite the bullet, and bought one from EBikeWholesaler. It arrived a couple of days ago, neatly crated and ready for me to have a go at assembly, what little of it I needed to do.
Once I rolled it out of the crate, grunting at the weight (about 130 pounds or so), and assembled the few items I needed to put on, I dropped it on the charger that it shipped with. Remarkably, it’s a charger with a fan in it, something I don’t see all that often, but a nice touch nonetheless.
Yesterday, I took it out for a ride.
Since I have been furloughed, I went to check in with my employer, a mile away. The scooter is FAST. It took maybe five minutes to get over to work, of which the hardest part was a right turn that’s really tight on something with a not too sharp turning radius. I’ll likely take one of my alternate routes to work, now that I’ve tried it.
From there, I headed back to go to the pharmacy, since I had a pickup to do and they wouldn’t be able to deliver until Monday otherwise, and then up to Macca’s for a whip through the drive-thru and collected a breakfast before coming back home. All of this was done inside an hour, and I even took my time.
Later that day, I was going to have a salad for dinner, but I had no dressing for it whatsoever. That would have meant no salad, or an hour plus bus trip for the item I forgot to order on my last delivery request via Rosie, but I hopped out onto the scooter and headed over to that store a mile away.
I got my dressing, some ready to eat chicken to add to the salad, and a few more incidentals while I was there so I wouldn’t have to make the run again for a few days, and got back home.
When I looked at the clock… only thirty minutes had elapsed.
Having had my trip times either pegged to the fixed route buses, the delays of waiting for paratransit, or walking or cycling to everything, this was mindbending in its glory.
Future me is going to have to spend a bit of time calculating how much I’ve saved in time and money on transportation, and figure out my return on investment. It’ll add up quick, I’m certain, whether I do the math based on trips on Lyft, or trip legs on paratransit, or time saved.
But for now, I’m going to enjoy not sharing a vehicle with others while going out to get groceries and meds.