The Ease of E-Bikes
Biking Gives a Boost to Your Brain and Your Body
By Leslie Dinaberg | August 25, 2022
One of the great ironies of modern life is that when you finally have an empty nest and the time and resources to pursue some new adventures, you don’t always have the same strength and mobility as you did when you were younger. Electric bikes can be a great way to level that playing field. They make adventuring and staying active easy and accessible for more people — especially older adults.
“Electric bikes are becoming very well-known and popular, especially during COVID when there was a huge bike boom,” said Jesse Rosenberg, General Manager of Santa Barbara BCycle, the City of Santa Barbara’s all-electric bike-share program. “A lot of people who were not even cyclists or riders — and that was a lot of older people, age 50-plus — realized, ‘Wow, I could do this for a social pleasure activity, and get some exercise … I can still be outside and can ride a bike, and I have pedal assist.’” (Pedal assist is the mode on an electric bike that provides power from the motor to help you pedal easier and move faster.)
Scientists have long known that outdoor stimulation and exercise can boost brain power and a sense of well-being, especially as we get older. According to a U.K. research study published in the journal Plos One testing the psychological and cognitive benefits of outdoor cycling among 100 adults ages 50 to 83, none of whom were regular bike riders, the findings suggested “it is not just the physical activity component of cycling that is having an influence. Both pedal cycles and e-bikes can enable increased physical activity and engagement with the outdoor environment with e-bikes potentially providing greater benefits.”
In fact, the study stated, “E-bikes certainly have the potential to re-engage older adults with cycling and provide a great opportunity to increase physical activity and engagement with the outdoor environment.”
In addition to allowing longtime riders to continue riding for many more years, Rosenberg explained that electric bikes are also great for people who aren’t really avid bike riders. “One of the things we’ve found in our BCycle research is that a lot of people who never rode bikes are now riding electric bikes even when they never ever thought they’d ride a bike.”
The “active aging” generation is the fastest growing segment of e-bike riders, according to Rosenberg. Some of the reasons for this include:
Ease of use and giving seniors the ability to go up hills, making long-distance bike rides more manageable while still reaping health benefits
The choice of power to pedal
E-bikes are more enjoyable and comfortable
You don’t need to be a prior bicyclist to learn to ride an e-bike
Some other advantages she noted are that you sweat less, can get to your destination and avoid the hassles of traffic and parking your car, and “the biking infrastructure in Santa Barbara is one of the best in the world.”
There are currently over than 65 BCycle rental stations available across the City of Santa Barbara with more to come. If you haven’t tried an electric bike, rentals are a great way to check one out at a very low rate, with special low income passes available from BCycle for just $25 a year. More information about passes is available here: santabarbara.bcycle.com/pass.