RideWise partners with Just Riding Along to learn more about e-bikes and how they can help with last-mile travel.
Hopefully in the not-so-distant future, with investments and plans being made across the country to improve public transportation and walking and biking infrastructure, people will have more travel options. Riding a train or bus is a necessity for long distance travel. But it’s equally as important to think about the “first- and last-mile.” What happens when you get off the train/bus, but your final destination is still several blocks away? How do you travel that “last-mile” quickly and easily? This is where micromobility can provide a less-expensive solution.
Micromobility covers “mini-modes” of travel, such as bicycles and scooters (electric or man-powered) that allow users to travel short distances. When these methods are placed strategically in a town or city, users can pair them with taking public transit and walking to close any gaps in their journey. Some towns in New Jersey are already embracing micromobility and e-bikes; Metuchen was the first to adopt an e-bike sharing program in 2019, and in 2020, Jersey City and Hoboken formed a joint Citi Bike bike share program, which includes both electric and non-electric bikes in their fleet.
To learn more about e-bikes and how they can help with traveling the last-mile, RideWise staff visited Ian Hughes and his bike shop, Just Riding Along, in Basking Ridge. Ian first became passionate about bicycles tagging along with his triathlete father. When he was in college, Ian rode in the Cycling Club, and after graduating he began working with Greg Cordasco at Liberty Cycle. “Greg Cordasco and the Liberty Cycle Club changed my life. The people are/were great,” Ian told me. “Those same people are still around and they are a regular part of my life.”
Ian, who “knew nothing about working on bikes,” learned from Greg how to be a bike mechanic. He instantly fell in love with the work: “I loved the mechanical side of the business and I loved helping people get on their bike or find a new bike or a part they needed/wanted.” Ian then worked in Pharma Marketing for a while, until the pandemic hit in 2020 and he lost his job – but he took that opportunity to open his own bike shop. “It was a bit of a blow, but that push is what led me to open the shop. I registered the business that night and opened my garage door the next day.” Eventually, a friend asked Ian if he wanted to buy the old fire house in Liberty Corner, and Ian enthusiastically agreed – leading to Just Riding Along’s physical shop.
One of the bikes that Ian is currently selling is the electric Yuba Mundo Electric, which is also a cargo bike. Though expensive (this model is priced at $4,699), there may soon be a federal tax credit for e-bikes. President Biden’s Build Back Better bill includes a 30% tax credit up to $900 on e-bike purchases for individuals who make $75,000 or less a year. It is unclear whether this tax credit will remain in the final legislation or not.
Not only did Ian explain the bike’s features – he allowed us to take a test ride. Being pure pedal assist with no throttle, the faster you pedal, the faster the electricity takes over. This made riding a breeze. There were three different pedal assist levels; if a rider wants to use less battery-power and only needs a small push, they use the lower assist level. If a rider wants to ride faster and use more electric power, they use the higher assist level. Riding this e-bike was just as simple as riding a standard bike, even easier, because the electricity gave an extra boost when pedaling.
Because of their range and speed, electric bikes are a great option when integrating micromobility into your community. Of course, integrating micromobility isn’t as simple as buying an e-bike; the infrastructure in a community needs to allow for easy cycling, so riders of all experience levels feel comfortable and safe. Riders themselves also have to factor in how easy or difficult it may be to run errands on a bike versus a car. “It is very doable, but you have to change your way of thinking and doing things. It’s a lifestyle change,” Ian said.
Through micromobility, we can all have access to more transportation options. To learn more about RideWise, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Just Riding Along, visit their website.