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Embracing Bike to Work Week and Beyond

  • Written by Rachel O'Connor
  • May 16, 2024
View of a city commuter riding to work on a bicycle. Young woman traveling on a bike, wearing a helmet for safety.

In August of 2023, I sold my beloved minivan to have extra money for upcoming international travel. Little did I know then the ripple effect that decision would have on my life. 

Fast forward to November 2023 when I returned home from traveling, I was confronted with yet another decision: to purchase a new vehicle or dip my toes into the waters of a car-free lifestyle. As you can probably guess, I opted for the latter, thinking it would be a temporary way to save some money.  

Cars have always represented an important form of freedom to me — freedom to road trip, freedom to car camp, and freedom to get as many groceries as I want at Costco. The idea of relying solely on a bike as transportation was extremely daunting. Regardless of my concerns, I decided this would be a good challenge. Plus, having a partner who has embraced a car-free lifestyle and been an avid cyclist for his entire adult life significantly boosted my confidence in making the leap myself. 

Life's Better on a Bike  

Riding around the city seemed much more feasible with an e-bike. So, I reached out to VVolt to ask about the availability of their used e-bikes. To my delight (and nervousness), VVolt had an awesome Centauri model that had been completely refurbished and fit perfectly within my budget! I quickly bought it and apprehensively began my new car-free life. (Sidenote: Working with VVolt has been incredible, I highly recommend them.) 

With my refurbished e-bike from VVolt, I embarked on a new chapter in my life. This shift not only reshaped my personal transportation choices, but also opened doors to unforeseen opportunities, including a fulfilling career with Resource Innovations (RI).  

Gear up for Success 

My life has been completely transformed by the experiences I’ve had on an e-bike in the past five months. 

Career trajectory: I never imagined that a seemingly small lifestyle change could have such a profound impact, setting me on an entirely new career path. Embracing a car-free lifestyle ignited my passion and led me to a role in sustainability with RI. Here, I help organizations and government agencies secure funding to advance their transportation electrification objectives (like e-bike voucher programs!). 

Inclusivity: RI prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion, embedding these values into its programs. In my role, I have the privilege of delivering the transformative benefits of e-bikes to underserved communities in a genuinely inclusive and meaningful manner. This involves conducting outreach and education campaigns for e-bikes (and e-buses), implementing e-bike coupon programs for income-eligible residents, and advancing public charging infrastructure. 

Adaptability and Resilience:  

There’s no escaping the reality that cycling isn't always the most enticing option. There are times when you just want to meet friends for drinks or head to the park or grocery store, but that means hopping on your bike and pedaling your way there. This reality has fostered a specific type of resilience that I hadn't been challenged with before. However, each time I rise to this challenge, it feels like a small victory. This resilience cultivated through cycling has also translated into my career. Just as I tackle the elements on my bike, I approach challenges in my professional life with the same determination and adaptability. 

Charging and infrastructure is a big challenge in many cities across the country (and not just for e-bikes!). It’s not always easy to find charging stations, but if you have a removable battery, simply detach it and settle at a coffee shop or bar equipped with an outlet. 

Just Keep Pedaling  

Living car-free has truly been a transformative experience for me. I feel more connected to my city, more connected to my body, and more connected to my community. While not every ride has not been pleasant (I’m looking at you, drivers parking in the bike lane and running stop signs), I can’t imagine returning to car ownership anytime soon.  

I know living without a car isn’t feasible for everyone. However, I share my journey in the hope that some of you might realize that being car-free isn't as daunting as it may seem. In fact, it might just change your life for the better!