James Norman (NHS Grampian)

Falling back in love with cycling – all thanks to an e-bike

A personal story

Around five years ago I was an avid cyclist, a Dawes Galaxy owner and someone who would cram a week’s worth of shopping into four panniers, someone who cycled to work every day on busy Aberdeen roads, and someone who would cycle into the hills of a weekend.

Living in a tenement flat in the city put paid to this, as I have no lift to my third floor apartment and the century old staircase is narrow and difficult to negotiate with a bicycle. So I gave up cycling.  Luckily for me Aberdeen is a walkable city so I still don’t own a car but as laudable and healthy as walking is I do miss the fun and excitement of cycling.

Promoting health and active travel 

A few years later I find myself in a role within NHS Grampian’s Public Health Department where part of my role is promoting active travel. Cycling Scotland’s Employer Development Grants? Mm, yes please!  We needed to improve our cycle parking and think about pool bikes, which might be useful as NHS Grampian has so many sites!  I did a bit of research and decided to apply for a couple of e-bikes, thinking that these would be more appealing to non-cyclists than conventional bicycles.

A revelation!

So in 2017 Cycling Scotland generously provided funding and we decided to lease two e-bikes and I had my first proper ride on one. And guess what? A revelation!  You can still cycle hard, you can still get fit.  However, you can still cycle at pretty much the same pace into a harsh Scottish headwind or up a steep hill as you can on a calm day on the flat.  In 20 mph zones you can keep pace with cars relatively easily.  I am now a complete convert to e-bikes, we have now decided to purchase one ourselves and I think they are potentially one of the key components to increasing bicycle ownership and usage.

James Norman (Public Health Practitioner, NHS Grampian) - October 2018