Thomas Lumley is a statistician at the University of Auckland, and co-edits the StatsChat blog. He also rides an electric bike to work most days. Here, he interviews himself about how it’s going so far. (Reposted with permission from Thomas’s Tumblr).

Office bike-selfie.
Official office bike-selfie: SmartMotion (L), Statistician (R).

Q: So, it’s been about 11 months since you got your fancy electric-assist bike.

A: Yes, that’s right.

Q: Have you given up yet?

A: No, it’s still fun.

Q: Even with the rain?

A: Combining Doppler radar and the detailed weather forecasts has mostly kept me dry.

Q: And getting killed by cars?

A: So far, still at less than 1 event.

Q: How do you feel about busy two-lane roundabouts?

A: I have a Theory.

Q: Do tell!

A: Busy roundabouts rely on informal negotiation over the details of the ‘give way to the right’ rule. Since cyclists are excluded from the negotiation, we inevitably offend either the drivers to the right or those behind us.

Q: Can’t they just four-letter-word themselves?

A: They are driving deadly weapons.

Q: Ah. Yes.

A: It’s not so bad most of the time. Sometimes, though…

Q: OK. What else?

Paphiopedilum_henryanum_Orchi_001
A bike box in the wild; pink rather than the usual green. (Image via Wikipedia)

A: You know those orchids that are designed to attract insects…

Q: To trap them for pollination? Yes.

A: Some intersections have things that look like safe green bike boxes, but on lanes with induction loops.

Q: So you’re trapped there until a ‘real’ vehicle comes along?

A: That’s right. There’s one on the Grafton Bridge!

Q: But that’s bus-only on weekdays!

A: I think cyclists are supposed to sit there until the weekend.

Q: You should come up with a cute name for that sort of thing

A: ‘Trollbooths’?

Q: Very droll.

A: Seriously, if electric bikes were cheaper, they’d be really useful for younger people.

Q: But isn’t the speed dangerous?

A: There are plenty of roads in my neighbourhood where I can go faster than that just from gravity.

Q: So, what’s the advantage?

A: Better acceleration makes it easier to deal with traffic. You wobble less going up steep hills, and you’ve got more attention to give to traffic.

— Thomas Lumley

  • Speaking of e-bikes: the NZTA is currently conducting research into electric bikes (and other low-powered vehicles), as part of considering whether and how to regulate their use. If you have thoughts on the matter, have your say via this short online survey before 13 September 2016.
  • We also stumbled across this new local e-bike review site recently. Worth checking, if you’re in the market for one.
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9 responses to “The Lithium-powered Space Bike

  1. Great that review site link. I tried an ebike on the weekend and it was AMAZING. I can’t recommend highly enough! Now I”m busy saving my pennies and I’m not sure about conversion or new bike (LBNZ has some very cool looking conversion kits I’m interested in learning more about).

  2. Point well made on safety, it was an unexpected benefit when I got my e-bike. Having more control and flexibility over velocity rather than relying solely on legs. Means its easier to take control of a situation by moving at an appropriate speed, when merging for example. I’m more confident claiming the lane. I still reach higher speeds when I’m riding on my Carbon road bike, its easier to maintain a steady average speed on an ebike. Riding defensively but assertively if that makes sense.

  3. Thanks for the shout-out to electricbikesnz.com 🙂
    I have no stake in the selling of ebikes, but wish that everyone would at least try one.

  4. I trust there wasn’t an assumption that the Grafton Bridge was not open for bicycles 24/7? Also the induction loop at the eastern end was broken for a while. Its been reported to AT, so will likely be fixed by 2025.

  5. The speed of E-bikes can be an hazard on cycleways and shared paths. There’s a proposal in the Netherlands to treat the more powerful E-bikes as light mopeds, and to have a 25km/h speed limit on cycle lanes.

        1. As far as I know, no cycleways in the Netherlands have a speed limit. The ebikes’ motors are limited to 25kph. People on an ebike or traditional cycle can ride faster than that using pedal power.

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