Transport takes one of the biggest bites out of the household budget.
The better part of $15 dollars in every $100.
I take that number from the basket of goods and services which Statistics New Zealand uses to calculate inflation.
It’s not surprising so many spend so much on transport. Cars rule in Auckland, followed by public transport. Bikes come in a distant third.
Cars rule because Auckland is a big, hilly city making biking gruelling.
I’ve cycled to work for years, but I recognise not everyone feels as warmly as I do about calorieburning, hard-cardio exercise.
But rapidly-advancing e-bike technology could open cycle commuting to more people.
During my morning ride I see more and more folk breezing along on e-bikes
I became curious, and cheekily phoned electricity retailer Mercury, which is making a big thing of e-bikes, to ask to borrow Not every family has two cars Take an e-bike test-ride Buying a cheap bike is a false economy
It was gracious enough to lend me a rather fruity-looking, bright yellow machine.
I felt a bit conspicuous on it, and since then have tried out (and preferred) some distinctly more masculine machines at Bikes and Barbers in Auckland.
E-bikes turbo-charge your pedalling with power from an electric motor powered by batteries you recharge at an ordinary power point.
The super-strength they give you takes all the worst bits out of cycling. Hills are easier, acceleration faster, and average speed higher.
They make biking easier to do and easier to love.
A study by Norway’s Institute of Transport Economics found people travel further and more often on e-bikes. The average length of the trips was doubled from just under 5km to just over 10.
My Mercury loaner cut my commute time from Epsom to Ponsonby by about a third, and I reckon halved the effort.
For families with one worker within 6-7km of work, e-bikes are suddenly a very real option for households sick of paying to register, WOF, insure, repair, and fill two cars with petrol.
With the cost of living in Auckland having risen far faster than I believe is caught by the inflation figures, two-car ownership is rapidly looking beyond many household budgets, especially of people trying to save for a house deposit, with rent to pay, or a frighteningly huge mortgage to service.
Mercury says e-bike battery recharging works out around 10 cents per 100kms of pedalling.
They may be cheap to run, but they aren’t cheap to buy.
The decent ones start at around $3000-$3500, and that doesn’t include a helmet and a sturdy bike lock.
That’s a lot of money, unless you pay for it from the proceeds of selling one of the household’s cars.
Beware though, there is some heinous rubbish on the market so do your homework, and do plenty of test-riding!
One day I will own an e-bike, but I won’t be buying one for the foreseeable future.
My trusty mountain bike keeps me fit and staves off middleage spread, so for the time being I’ll leave my money in the bank, and the e-bikes in the shop.
I liked the e-bike Mercury lent me, but it was a bit on the yellow side for my taste.