All nations want and need to get back to work, and soon, but there's going to have to be a lot of adjustments to how we actually do it. When we start to get back to normal after COVID-19, (the new normal anyway), there will likely be an extended period of time where we are all a little leery of shaking that first hand, giving that first hug, and certainly sitting next to someone on a subway or commuter bus that sneezes or coughs their way through the commute. Not to mention touching all those hard surfaces that we've been told to be wary of as we negotiate a moving vehicle and hang on for dear life.
It’s hard to know how long it will take to recover the ridership numbers when public transportation systems do start moving again, or even how reliable they will be as we get sporadic employee gaps as people self isolate with little warning, or what lingering effects this global pandemic will have on people in general.
We would anticipate seeing a growing number of walkers, scooters and cyclists this coming year as people may be reticent to be in close contact with strangers for a while. Since not all of us can afford a Tesla or other EVs, or even just the best fast home EV chargers to plug a swanky car into, let’s look at other more affordable yet cool ways to get around town for that daily commute!
Cycling to work is one option
Bicycles were introduced in the 19th century and now number approximately one billion worldwide and they are the principal means of transportation in many parts of the developing world.
Cycling is widely regarded as a very effective, efficient and environmentally low-impact mode of transportation and optimal for short to moderate distances.
Bicycles provide numerous benefits in comparison with motorized vehicles, including the sustained physical exercise involved in cycling, easier parking, increased maneuverability, and access to roads, bike paths and rural trails. Cycling also offers a reduced consumption of fossil fuels, reduced air and noise pollution, and reduced traffic congestion.
Bikes also lead to reduced financial costs to the user as well as to society at large, due to the negligible damage and wear they cause to roads and the smaller amount of road area they require. By fitting bike racks on the front of buses, transit agencies can also significantly increase the areas they can serve, although the public use of transit may not recover quickly after Covid-19, so its questionable how much tose will get used in the near future.
In addition though, cycling does provide a variety of potential health benefits. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that cycling can reduce the risk of cancers, heart disease, and diabetes that are prevalent in our sedentary lifestyles in North America. Cycling on stationary bikes have also been used as part of rehabilitation for lower limb injuries, particularly after hip surgery. Individuals who cycle regularly also reported mental health improvements, including less perceived stress and an increased feeling of vitality - which certainly would come in handy at the moment!
Among the disadvantages of cycling though are the requirement of bikes (excepting tricycles or quadracycles) to be balanced by the rider, the reduced protection in crashes in comparison to motor vehicles, often longer travel time (except in densely-populated areas), vulnerability to weather conditions, difficulty in transporting passengers, and the fact that a basic level of fitness is required for cycling moderate to long distances. If you're interested in commuting by bike all the same, a good selection of budget conscious bikes online can be found here.
Unless that is you upgrade to an e-bike… which gives some exercise while taking the strain out of it!
Are Ebikes legal?
Electric bike sales have exploded in recent years and prices online are really quite reasonable. There are 3 classes of E bike; class 2 and 3 bikes may cause you grief legally speaking, but class 1 E bikes generally don’t require licenses, don’t have many limitations as to their use (so far at least), and they are fairly affordable, starting somewhere around a thousand dollars.
As long as they are pedal-assist only (with no throttle) and have lower top speeds, most state and provincial laws consider e-bikes no different that standard pedal bikes. Read more about choosing the right E bike below.
Are Electric scooters legal?
Electric scooter laws in the US are evolving regularly, and so far they seem more stringent than with e-bikes. Laws will vary by state, but US federal law stipulates that electric scooters cannot be used on sidewalks. They can use bike lanes, and they are allowed on roadways that don’t have dedicated bike lanes as long as they have a top speed of 25 mph. There may be local or state legislation that further muddies the waters, so do some research about your local area before making a purchase.
Electric scooter laws in Canada are even more murky and varied. From our research, it seems that in general they are not allowed on sidewalks or bike lanes, but are allowed on paths and trails. That may cause commuting challenges unless you have a designated bike path you can use from your home to your office. Each province and state has its own set of regulations that are worth checking out so you stay on the good side of the law.
E scooters are however, at least the smaller ones, foldable and able to be carried. So you could use them for certain legs of a journey, then walk it or fold it up and carry it a bit as well as bring it into your office for security.
Worth noting, is that there is animosity forming in some locations between cyclists, pedestrians and scooter riders that has at times gotten quite heated. While a very cool device, seeing them zip in and out of people on a sidewalk certainly has the potential to ruffle feathers. We are creatures of habit and slow to accept change at times, so if you're looking for a little commuting assitance without making enemies, e-bikes are less ‘threatening’ looking than scooters since they blend in with all the other bikes. So they may be preferable, although with many well rated offers, online adult sized electric scooters can be more affordable than an ebike.
Walking to work
Yeah, good old walking. No flat tires, no traffic snarls, no one squeezed in beside you like on a train or bus. Ways to make a walk more bearable – and please be aware that we know a lot of these suggestions may inspire a ‘yeah, duh’ from regular walkers, but we’re trying to make converts here so we’re laying out the basics : )
Most of us have a phone in our pockets with access to music, podcasts, audiobooks or news apps, so take advantage of that and download new stuff to keep your mind occupied and the time passes quickly. If you walk a busy and noisy route, a set of noise-cancelling headphones can make walking significantly more enjoyable. This is where your mom would see your big headphones and say ‘don’t forget to look both ways’, but you already have a mom so we won’t.
Some valuable items for commuting to work by foot – first be sure to have good shoes. It goes without saying one would think, but the amount you will save on bus fare, gas or parking more than justifies the cost of quality shoes that will make your walk more enjoyable and put less strain on your joints. For an interesting selection of eco conscious walking and work shoes online that ship to US & Canada, see here.
Have a comfortable backpack with either a collapsible umbrella or compact raincoat or poncho, a hat, sunscreen, water, the basics. Think of it as your urban survival ‘bug-out bag’ that is always ready to go so you don’t have to dig for rain gear if the weather looks ominous.
For a high tech commuting solution
Then for those looking for the ultimate in compact and high tech commuting, there's the Segway Ninebot S-Plus - billed as 'your personal self-balancing transporter'. The Segway S-PLUS delivers enhanced speed and range, along with the ability to control the unit remotely and even have it follow you if you decide to walk or if you stop to pick up groceries and you can't ride with your hands full. This high-tech, two-wheel scooter is well-built with a robust and durable base and frame which provides confidence while riding.
- Easy to ride;
- compact and lightweight;
- max. speed of 12.5 mph;
- 22 mile range;
- maximum climbing slope of 15 degrees;
- Full-featured APP connectivity;
- UL2272 Certified.
Ride sharing - carpooling
Check with neighbors on local ride sharing boards to see if someone nearby takes the same route as you that you can carpool with. Even this will probably be slow to start at first (and your neighbor may want to spray you with alcohol before you get into their car), but it will for sure gain in popularity as we get back to something of the old 'normal' eventually. And on the bright side, transmission of other colds and flus has dropped off due to our new-found hand washing diligence!
Now you know more about eco-friendly commuting options that don't involve sitting in a confined space with other human beings post Covid-19, sad as that sounds...
Find more pages about low-emission commuting and green lifestyle choices in these pages :
Find more about green home construction in the Ecohome Green Building Guide pages - also, learn more about the benefits of a free Ecohome Network Membership here.
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