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Confessions of a low emissions convert

HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED?

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I often talk a big game. “Bike lanes are brilliant.” “Buses are so convenient.” “EVs – yeah, they’re our future.”

Yet I’ll admit it, ‘I’m a fraud’.

I haven’t caught a bus to a weekday meeting in years. I’ve never driven an EV, let alone bought one.

Although I ride my bike regularly over the summer, I’m a fair-weather cyclist and over winter I get lazy and drive.

So, when I found myself arguing recently with my old-school ‘petrolhead’ mate Steve that EVs are better, and cleaner, and faster, and quieter, and cheaper, and cooler … he called me out.

“What are ‘you’ driving then,” he asked? “Or did you come here on your e-bike, or by bus?”

I’d driven to meet him in my Nissan (internal combustion engine – ICE). A good car. A great car. But a dirty petrol-engine job nonetheless.

Immediately I was fully exposed as an out-and-out fraud and no excuse seemed plausible.

The excuses I contemplated proffering were all, quite honestly, pathetic.

“I’m too busy to bus.” “I’m different from other people – my schedule changes often and I can’t cope with range anxiety.” “You can’t trust the weather forecast.”

Instead, I went silent.

The challenge

That evening I decided to get off my lazy arse and make an effort – I pledged to not comment again on alternative transport modes until I’d actually used them.

I think we are all irritated by the opinionated loudmouth who always seems to have a negative comment about things he or she has never experienced.

OMG, I was that guy, though in my defence, my comments about things I’ve never experienced are generally positive (rather than negative); deep down there’s a Freudian desire for acceptance on my part. Come the following Saturday morning, the born-again me emerged.

Diary of low-emission alt transport convert

Saturday – return bike ride Mount Maunganui to the Lakes, Tauriko – 21kms each way; Sunday – this one was a biggie for me – apply online for a Bee card (for the uninitiated, that’s a local bus card) and download the Transit app; Monday – Lime scooter to two local meetings, though cautiously terminating each trip well out of sight of colleagues at the final destinations: I’m not stupid, my dismounts never look ‘cool’; Wednesday – Uber to and from business seminar and cocktails across town; Friday – Catch bus from Mount Maunganui to Tauranga. Meet friends. Drink cocktails. Catch bus home; Monday – Attend client presentation in Hewlett’s Road by Lime Scooter. Wearing lightweight shirt scooter home late and freeze; Tuesday – Catch bus to Tauranga and pick up GoTo Car Share Tesla for road test. SOLD; Wednesday – Bus, bike and scooter throughout the day. Thursday – Walk to meeting. Walk home; Friday – Celebrate two weeks car-free.

Highlights

  • Passing queues of stationary traffic while riding a Lime Scooter one way, and via a bus lane on the way back – priceless.
  • Checking my Transit app to find out there’s a bus due at my front door in three minutes – yes!
  • Stepping off the bus in Willow St and taking eighteen steps into one of my favourite tap houses – nice.
  • Not needing to find a park there – nicer.
  • Taking a three-minute detour on my bike ride home from a morning meeting to check out the surf – paradise.
  • Riding from Mount Maunganui to The Lakes, Tauriko and only needing to ride on the road for two short stretches – awesome.

Lessons learned

  • I live in a beautiful part of the world: a bus ride via Pilot Bay on a sunny morning is a wonderful way to start a business trip.
  • I feel more alive when I get fresh air and exercise.
  • It feels good to be doing your part to save the planet.
  • EV’s really are cool. Really.
  • Riding a Lime Scooter is good for the soul.
  • Sunny weather makes biking far more enjoyable.
  • Don’t bike 40kms in a day unconditioned and expect your rear end not to hurt.

Questions

  • Why are there not more people on the bus?
  • Will petrol stations be replaced by charging stations soon? When?
  • When will Steve admit that EVs are better, and cleaner, and faster, and quieter, and cheaper, and cooler?

Verdict

  • My next car will be an EV.
  • I’m still not convinced I’ll bike in the rain … but watch this space.
  • I will keep using the bus – it’s not just for school kids and retirees.

I’m no longer a fraud, and I feel all the better for it. Let’s talk multi-modal – it’s my thing now.

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Alan Neben
Alan Neben
Publisher, Bay of Plenty Business News

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