Dr Marwan Fayed is the first person to take control of our new electric bike, the Giant Escape Hybrid II (kindly provided at a discounted price by Edinburgh Bike Co-op) and in the process is trying something quite new for himself and for Stirling University.
Dr Fayed is a lecturer at Stirling University and lives in the town.
"Walking to work takes too long, and cycling on my pedal bike leaves me too hot and bothered. The electric bike should reduce how much effort I have to put in and allow me to leave the car at home. I am unsure if it will also save me money if I buy one after borrowing this bike but very much hope it will."
Marwan is borrowing the bike as part of a bike loan scheme which is itself part of a 6 month Carbon Reduction challenge being taken by Stirling University. The Challenge has been branded the "Limbo Challenge" as it is intended to be a fun and slightly different take on what can often be the slightly gloomy message of energy saving. As well as the art of getting lower, Limbo is all about flexibility after all!
For more information on the Challenge please visit Stirling University's own webpage all about the project.
For more about Marwan's experiences, please keep reading. We will keep updating this page as Marwan kindly provides feedback and images.
11th October 2011
"Bike dropped off at work, so my first day with it is a 1/2-day.
Initial impressions are that the bike is surprisingly light, the gear switch seems awkward to use, and the recharger is unnecessarily bulky (although there is a pack provided on the bike should it need to be transported)...
Then I took my first ride. Very impressed. I have but one comment, 'Holy Cr*p!'"
12th October 2011
"Today was the real test. The journey to work is largely an upward incline. In addition, I left the house this morning in the dark and in the rain. (Luckily, the cold has yet to descend!)
There are a few things I can say with certainty:
- The seat height and brakes needed some adjusting. No issue there.
- I averaged 20mph [this is actually kph - ed] on journey home last night (this is the max provided by the electrical system, I believe.) Going to work was 15mph. The reason was the upward incline forced me to reduce gears. Still, even on the steep hill, the force behind my pedalling felt about the same as an ordinary walk down the street.
- Yesterday's ride was the first real ride in more than a year.
- Getting back on the bike this morning, my behind was ridiculously sore!
I'm having a lot of fun with this bike, and continue to be impressed."
Day Three13th October 2011
"Exhausted this morning. I thought, "Forget the bike, I'm taking the bus as I normally do." But I gathered my stuff together and dragged my feet. The above pics are how I was rewarded. The silence and the scenery, I think, speak for themselves."
Days Four, Five and Six
14 - 17 October 2011
"This weekend I rode from Stirling to Dunblane. Anyone who has tried knows this is no ride for the faint of heart! Having learned to ride a bike in densely populated regions, I had little fear of the traffic. (Although when this becomes 'stupidity', I'm not sure!) My feeling about the upward journey, though, was another matter.
I'd have to say, with the electric bike, it was a joy. My legs were moving quite a bit, my heart pumped at an increased pace, but it was never uncomfortable. Quite seriously, I am thinking about taking the plunge permanently."
18 October 2011
"A Sad Day" - This morning I left my, err, the bike at home. (Funny, how I've come to think of it as mine; I guess a special relationship has
developed.) The weather was cold, dark, rainy, and windy all at once.
After a weekend full of work, packing, preparing, moving more than I had to, all seemed too much. I felt badly, leaving it behind, but at least it flashes nicely when under light at night!
Despite leaving the bike behind, I sat on the bus and thought about total cost of ownership under the Cycle to Work Scheme. The idea is brilliant, and I wish more countries had similar options. Still, it occurs to me that, yet again, the wealthy benefit more than the rest of the population. I may have it all wrong but, as a pre-tax benefit, those in higher tax brackets save a great deal more than those in lower tax brackets. Somehow that seems wrong. Hopefully the low-carbon alliance will add an update line following my post to set any misunderstandings straight!
UPDATE: Marwan is quite right. As with all tax breaks, it benefits those most on higher incomes. There have also been some recent developments with the Cycle to Work programme that may make it less cost effective for businesses and employees. We will update as soon as we know. Let's hope it doesn't stop Marwan purchasing his own electric bike, if he wishes to.
19 October 2011
There are a few things no one really tells you when learning to commute to work by bike. Sure, there are the proverbial, "do you have waterproofs?", or, "there are showers available at work!" These notions, while helpful, leave a big gap between information and execution. So here are a few things that helped me:
Packing clothes in the morning is a pain, but one gets used to it.
Make sure to pack an extra pair of pants! I have cycling-wear, but no waterproofs from the waist down. An alternative solution is to tie a plastic bag over the seat of the bike while away from it.
Wear gloves. Even at 12-15 degrees, the damp air moves past your knuckles quite quickly. That's all for now, I guess.
Tomorrow is my last day with the bike. Last blog entry, too.
Marwan reluctantly handed back the bike today, so someone else within Stirling University can try it. We took a last photo...
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