One woman reduces her carbon footprint on an e-bike

By Edwina Robinson, 7 June 2017

Dira with bike

Dira poses with her electric bike. Photo: Edwina Robinson

Dira Horne commutes to her Chief Executive Officer role at the Belconnen Community Services on her pedal-assisted electric bike.

After being struck with arthritis, Dira bought an electric bike to continue exercising and stay fit.

This is her 3rd electric bike. She purchased this one after bike number two, weighing around 20 kilos became too heavy for her to lift onto her bike rack on the car.

Dira began a search on the internet for a light-weight electric bike. She came across a German brand, Kalkhoff.

The beauty of this bike is that it weighs around 14 kilos and the battery has a greater range than earlier models. It can go up to 100 kilometres.

She test rode a range of bikes at one of Fyshwick’s bike retailers, and the Kalkhoff came up trumps.

Her e-bike is fitted with a snazzy pannier for work. And she has two larger panniers for picking up groceries. Dira says

“I’d rather go somewhere on a bike, than a car.”

She finds riding her bike far more relaxing than driving - no waiting in traffic and says Canberra is such a beautiful city.

Dira thinks Canberrans are incredibly fortunate with our extensive bike path network and she loves observing the change of seasons.  Although, she leaves the bike at home during magpie-swooping season.

Riding also creates a relaxing transition between home and work and vice versa. It’s a great circuit breaker.

Dira at cafe

Pre-work meeting in Aranda. Photo: Edwina Robinson

For time out, Dira throws the bike on the back of the car and heads off to camp at the south coast. Having her bike with her, means she can continue to get regular exercise.

Dira thinks electric bikes are a great option for older people. Her aunty, who’s in her seventh decade test rode Dira’s bike and went out and bought herself one! She commutes between Woden and Kambah to play golf.

E-bikes are not only good for your health and well-being, they are good for the environment.

A small car like a Toyota Yaris generates over 2.0 tonnes of carbon emissions a year. By riding her bike Dira has at least halved her daily transport emissions.

Not only is her transport footprint reduced, Dira shops for second-hand clothes, installed a large water tank and a 3.8m x 3m greenhouse in the garden. In it, she produces tomatoes grown from Digger’s heirloom seeds. This year she has been eating  lettuces, tomatoes, eggplants and parsley from her home garden.

Compost is produced from a worm farm.  And she shares her Aranda block and vegetables with her elderly mother, who built a townhouse in the front garden.

While bike riding is common for German, Danish and Dutch women, with females representing around half of riders, the situation in Australia is far different.

You’d think with a country graced with blue skies and plenty of space that women would embrace cycling. But that’s not so.

In the Australian Capital Territory, women only make up around one third of riders.

Women in the ACT cite a number of reasons preventing them from riding, such as the need to pick up and drop off children, dangerous roads and dangerous drivers, distance, lack of facilities for changing and having to wear a helmet.

As Dira proves, riding is good for your health, wellbeing and hip-pocket. And good for the planet.

Dira’s bright bell.Photo: Edwina Robinson

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