Dane Eifling, Special to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
How high would gas prices have to go for you to ride a bike? Lots of folks have been finding out as gas prices have crept upward for months, to a high of $4.33 in March.
With the ongoing war in Ukraine and international turmoil, there’s no guarantee prices won’t surge ever higher. People are understandably frustrated, as the price of simply going to work and school keeps rising. But rather than getting mad, many people are getting even. As gas prices rose, so did sales of e-bikes and e-scooters. People are opting to pass by the pump altogether and take charge of their own transportation costs.
Trading in a vehicle for a more fuel-efficient model or simply driving less can be a good start. The problem remains, though: How to get around? Turns out there’s nothing more liberating, more freeing, than riding on your own two wheels, literally using your own power to get around.
E-bikes and e-scooters, already widely available, are also becoming incredibly affordable. Local and online retailers have lots of options, whether you’re wanting to go fast, go far or go in comfort. Heck, even Walmart sells e-scooters and e-bikes now.
Many of the barriers associated with bike commuting effectively evaporate when an electric motor does the hardest of the manual labor. Worries about hills, sweat and time constraints all seem to vanish while breezing past a gas station.
And I do mean breeze. Many e-bikes reach speeds up to 28 mph on flat ground, with minimal effort from the rider. For most short commutes, that’s as fast as the average traffic speed. Meanwhile bike routes that use side streets are often more direct, allowing the bike rider to outpace cars. You can pedal, or engage the electric motor to keep up with cars or power up hills without breaking a sweat.
Before you dismiss the notion of riding a bike to save on gas, consider that the $4.33 you pay for one gallon of gas buys enough electricity to go 2,000 miles on an e-bike — roughly a road trip from Fayetteville to Seattle. People did the math and realized they wouldn’t notice an e-bike on their electric bill.
Finally, you may find your conscience, as much as your pocketbook, spurs a change. You might adopt a new mode of transportation as a form of peaceful protest. Oil comes from all over the world, and buying gas invariably supports governments you probably don’t want to fund. Spending less at the pump offers peace of mind knowing less money going to fuel the next conflict.