Sitting in long traffic queues in his car and watching the fuel gauge steadily drop helped convince Darren Millington to try cycling to work instead of driving. Then seeing someone whiz past him on an e-bike while he struggled up a hill persuaded him that electric power was the way to go.
Community support worker Millington has been riding an e-bike from his home in Glen Eden to Pt Chevalier since January, and he’s glad he made the switch.
“It feels good to know I’m cutting down on emissions and doing my bit,” he says.
He also uses his bike on the weekend for short trips, but still drives his car when he does the shopping or ferries his son around.
He used to spend around $130 a fortnight on petrol; it’s a fraction of that now as he usually does the daily 22km round trip on his bike. He can typically do two days of riding to work and back before needing to recharge. Some days he rides a lot more, taking his son to and from school and working between a few sites, using up nearly a full charge in a day.
He can travel the 11km to work in around 20 minutes, compared to the 30-45 minutes it could take driving a car in heavy traffic. Millington can handle cycling in the rain, but if there are weather warnings he generally uses the car.
“The bike cost $4300 but I’m saving a lot of money, and eventually it will pay for itself,” he says. He used some savings for the initial purchase and is now putting the money saved on fuel back into savings, which is around $700 since he bought the bike in January. “I’m also getting exercise and reducing my footprint which are big pluses for me.”
He’s grateful for the support he’s had from the EcoMatters Bike Hub in Henderson, where cyclists can get help with bike repairs and maintenance. “If you take your bike in for a service, they get you to do it, using their tools, and they show you what to do. It gives you some independence. It’s great to know there is somewhere like that you can go for help.”
New e-bikes start from around $2000, but there are second-hand and rental options available too.