I have been a ‘commuting cyclist’ for most of my working life, wherever I lived and worked I have always tried to find a way to cycle to work – some exercise – not needing to use car – some clearing of thoughts- some fresh air- being my main motivators. All of these were high on my agenda. But now in my late 60s, but still working part-time I began to wonder about an e-bike.

I only slowly warmed to e-bikes. My first step, was to trial a bike on a project that I was involved with. That was a lovely experience – you did have to push the pedals and that was the number one myth dispelled. Then a friend borrowed an e-bike for us to go on a ride together [she already had one] around the miles of red paths in Milton Keynes. That is flat country compared to anywhere in Scotland but I still loved it – immediately sensing how it took pressure off my knees and got me started at junctions more easily. Then a trial for a month of an e-bike at work [University of Edinburgh scheme], but I commute by bike and train and the bike I trialled was a bit cumbersome.  

In the meantime, I continued riding my hybrid bike back and forth from the station to my home to commute from Glasgow to Edinburgh and back.  Gradually, over the course of about a year, I realised I was getting more reluctant to cycle – if the weather was wet or windy or if the day had already tired me out. I realised I was moving towards thinking of an e-bike to keep me riding. 

Then my local bike shop – Gear of Glasgow in Gibson St – let me try an e-bike they had – one ride round the park with the steepest of hills involved sold me on that bike – it was a joy! I bought the bike on the cycle to work scheme although it was more expensive that the limit. However, I have now heard that schemes have a higher limit especially to encourage the purchase of bikes.

So now I ride my ebike with that joy. There is never a weather moment [maybe except snow] that puts me off – I can do any trip and love it. It took me a few weeks to ride efficiently for health and for ease – I have found a way to keep a challenge involved without using the assistance too much but that makes it all feel manageable even on the steepest hills.  So I am convinced I still get a health benefit and I am out in the fresh air and not using my car.

Finally, with COVID restrictions I have used my e bike much more for exercise – I have gone on routes that I might have needed to get off and push before! So my bike enjoyment has extended beyond commuting to recreation – another joy!

Nanette Mutrie

Professor Nanette Mutrie MBE CPsychol FBASES FHEPA-Europe, Director of Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, University of Edinburgh, 2.27 St Leonard¹s Land Holyrood Road Edinburgh EH8 8AQ Email: Nanette.mutrie@ed.ac.uk Tweet: @nanettemutrie Website: www.ed.ac.uk/education/pahrc

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