I don't ride nearly as often now, and my body is 10 years older, so that hill is a lot more daunting than it used to be. There's also the smaller but still daunting hill between us and the nearby regional parks. My wife and I had ridden it a number of times together, but it's enough of a hill to make it hard work right at the start of the ride.
Pacific E-Bikes on TreeHugger. They're close by in Berkeley, so when I was in the area I went and took a test ride. I was impressed enough that I later borrowed one for a longer test drive and so my wife could try it out, too.
My wife thought it was OK, but didn't think she'd ride it that much. I liked it, and it made it up the hill OK, so we bought one ($897 + tax) and I brought it home. I've since used it to go out to the Habitat construction site, run errands, and even do some grocery shopping (a 12 pack of beer fits nicely on the rack, and we have panniers for the rest.) And my wife has ridden it a lot more than she expected. She's ridden it down to the village, but mostly over to Redwood Regional Park.
It's still work to go up a hill (sometimes a lot), but it takes enough of the edge off that I can once again ride up the hill to home. And for shorter rides like over to Redwood, as my wife says, "it makes biking fun again."
Mama's Royal Cafe. I also took the opportunity to snap some pics of local signs. After that it was over to Chinatown to check on a possible source of LED undercabinet lights for our kitchen. I criss-crossed Downtown and Uptown taking pictures of signs and buildings. It was a lovely day at this point, with puffs of fog blowing past in a blue sky.
After that, I headed up Telegraph to the Tip Top Bike Shop (which has finished their expansion into the space next door.) There I bought a water bottle holder for the bike, a rear-view mirror for my wife's helmet, and the East Bay Biking Coalition's 'west of the hills' map showing suggested bike routes around the East Bay. From there, it was past the newly re-opened Kingfish pub (alas, they don't open until 4pm on weekdays.)
Finally, it was time to head for home. I'd ridden up the hill to home before, taking one of the less steep routes (e.g., the trail up Shepherd Canyon), but today it was time for a work-out for me and the e-bike. I headed up past the Claremont Hotel into Claremont Canyon, and the bike did better than I did. A couple parts of Claremont are pretty steep (>9% grade), and I had to stop and take a break, but the bike's battery lasted through it. Once I was up to Grizzly Peak the e-bike and I had an easy time of it; once I reached Skyline it was downhill to home.
In short, we love our new e-bike. It's still not zero impact, but is way better than even our Prius, and it's good exercise for us, too. If you've considered biking for transportation but need a little extra oomph, consider an e-bike. It's also a wonderful way to see Oakland. No worries about parking (except where racks haven't been installed to replace the old parking meters), and you see a lot more at a slower pace than driving. Even if you don't ride it every day, each bike trip is one less car trip.
Here are some resources for biking in Oakland:
- Walk Oakland Bike Oakland
- East Bay Bicycle Coalition
- Public Works Bicycling and Pedestrian Information
see part 2 here