I Feel Like a Celebrity When I Ride My Electric Cargo Bike

Based on the number of questions I get, surely an e-bike revolution is underway.

Katherine's e-bike at the beach
My e-bike is parked at the beach.

Katherine Martinko

I feel like a celebrity when I ride my electric cargo bike around my small, rural, touristy town in southwestern Ontario, Canada. People gape at intersections, roll down car windows, give thumbs up, and wave enthusiastically with big grins on their faces. It's not uncommon to hear children shout from the sidewalk, "Your bike is so cool!" or to overhear them telling their parents that they want one, too.

Over the past nine months of e-bike ownership, I've become accustomed to constant inquiries about where I got my bike, who makes it, how it works, and whether or not I recommend getting one. (Short answer: Yes, a million times over!) I've told my husband that I now have to allow more time for errands because people are always waiting outside, hanging around the bike rack with dozens of questions.

Last week, as I wheeled into the gym after a five-mile ride from my house, a car pulled into the parking lot beside me. The driver rolled down his window and said, "I've been following you for the past several miles! I just had to find out where you got that bike because it looks amazing and I think I need one." He asked to take a picture of it before leaving.

He was the first person to admit to following me for a considerable distance, but he was not the first to take a photo. Earlier, another woman had stopped me earlier to inquire about the accessories on the bike, and whether or not it was possible to carry an infant and a toddler. She seemed utterly delighted to discover that Rad Power Bikes has all manner of seats for kids at various ages and stages, making it a perfect choice for parents.

What's impressive is that everyone wants to know about the bike. There's not just one single demographic that's drawn to it, and I think it's because everyone is craving an alternative form of transportation to cars that's cheaper, more efficient, healthier, and a heck of a lot more fun. Many people don't even know that cargo e-bikes exist, and to see one is to be enlightened. For many people, seeing and talking about my e-bike is like a moment of reckoning, a lightbulb going off in their heads, when they suddenly realize there's another way of doing things, and they've been stuck in a rut far too long.

I talk to young parents with kids in tow who are sick of strapping them into car seats. I talk to childless singles and couples who want a fun, novel way to get around. I talk to older people who love riding bikes but don't have the energy or strength to cycle conventionally. I talk to people who want to commute to work or carry groceries without getting sweaty or exhausted. I talk to people who can't afford cars. I talk to people who want fresh air and sunshine, movement and silence, the thrill of speed without fossil fuels, the ease and elegance of electric propulsion. E-bikes can do it all.

The beauty of the e-bike is that it's universally appealing. It is hard to think of anyone for whom an e-bike would be a poor choice, and that is why I predict we'll be seeing more and more of these on our streets. Of course I will never know how many people have gone out and bought e-bikes since talking to me or taking pictures of mine, but I do know that as soon as people experience the sheer joy that one feels when riding an e-bike, it's an impossible feeling to forget.