I have a crazy idea. And when I say crazy, I mean that it could never happen (due to a few issues), but will make sense if it could happen. Those that know me knows that I carry a philosophy that this world is so screwed up, that if something makes sense, it will never happen. So what is this crazy idea? Well, I have to deal with public transportation, and my home bus (the bus(es) to serve the neighborhood I live in) only runs hourly. This has caused a number of problems. For example, a day before today (2016-05-27), I had a doctor’s appointment. This appointment was at 10AM, but I got to the doctor’s office at 9:10AM because if I caught a later bus, I would have been late. And me being 30 minutes or more early for appointments is a regular occurrence because the only home bus runs hourly. In addition, I have a dog, and no driver’s license because of medical issues. I will like to be able to get my dog to places other than just the neighborhood I live in, and this is not possible (currently) with public transportation. One major instance will be a veterinarian checkup that should happen every year. To walk Malak there will be a 90 minute walk, and due to the time of the year that it is possible for me to take him means very hot concrete.
So what will my solution be? Well, it will be nearly $2,000, but this will be a bike with all of the items I will need and the components that will make such an idea feasible. I never ridden a bike before, and while that is usually a childhood staple, a normal childhood is something I never had. This will obviously mean I will have to learn to ride a bike, and then there are the ankles which I have almost no mobility which I am sure will have some balance issues. So, this will raise some issues, and cause for some adjustments. In addition, this will also need to be a solution to allow me to take my dog if he needs to go somewhere, and address issues like groceries, and possible doctor appointments.
So, what will my solution comprise of? Well, for those interested, the wish list for all of the items are located at my Bike Wish List. This comprises of the following:
- The Bike (obviously)
- Bike Panniers
- Magnetic Workout Stand
- Electric Bike Kit
- Bike Stabilizer Wheels
- Tail Light / Turn Signal
- Bike Trailer
- Bike Shorts / Gloves / Helmet
- Better Saddle Seat
- Square Trade Protection Plan (2y)
- Bike Toolkit
- Water Bottle
The bike that will be chosen (mostly because of price) will be Northwoods Pomona Men’s Cruiser Bike. This is a 26″ wheel bike that has an average rating on Amazon, but is less than $160. The wheels are 36 spoke, and the handle bars are higher which is better for new riders. The bike is not intended to be a performance bike, but it will be used to get me from point A to B in the non-Winter months. A 2 year protection plan will help provide some assurance with the bike. If it fails, I will get my money returned which could be used to purchase a better model if needed.
Panniers are bags that will sit on each side of the rear wheel. These bags can allow me to carry small items, and allow to rely less on a back pack which may not be the best thing to use when starting. One example is if I need to acqire prescriptions, I can go to the pharmacy, acquire the prescriptions, place them in the Pannier, and return home. Same should be for bread or just a couple of items at a grocery store. This will be hard to warrant the $3.50 bus fare with PAT, but with the bike and bagging – this will be more economical, and sustainable.
Magnetic Workout Stand
During the Winter months, this could be placed in the workout stand, and provide reistance to keep up with exercise, and hopefully make it easier to adjust my ankles with using a bike without the problems that might have otherwise occurred.
Electric Bike Kit
This is an add-on system where the front wheel is replaced with a wheel that has an electric motor. This is the single most expensive component (at $700), but is likely to be cheaper and more sustainable than trying to rely on buses with many of the very difficult Pittsburgh Steep Streets. Assuming for an average rider, the bike can handle 12 miles before needing to be recharged. Since this will only be needed for uphills, the bike will function as a pedal bike most of the time.
Bike Stabilizer Wheels
Also known as adult training wheels, this will be intended to provide stability – especially if the ankles becomes an issue with the pedals. These wheels should also allow them to go up, and out of the way for when transferring by bus is needed.
Tail light / Turn Signal
The tail light will also function as turn signals. This is completely for safety reasons. The tail light will show that I am on the road, and the turn signal will communicate with drivers behind me of my intentions. This will likely sit on the left handlebar while the electric wheel control will sit on the right.
This will be especially important for when I have to go to the food bank, grocery shopping, or if I am going to take Malak somewhere. The bike trailer is large enough to fit 2 children, or one adult, and can support 200lbs which is sufficient for most people. However, with my regards, the most I will load is my 90lb dog. There are seat belts, so I should be able to secure my dog when I take him somewhere. As for groceries, and the food bank, I should be able to transport all of my groceries at one time, and have more options of shopping rather than a more expensive grocery store.
Bike Shorts / Gloves / Helmet
Bike shorts will be designed to protect the groin area from bumps and gravel. The gloves will make it easier to handle the handlebars consistently, and the helmet is obviously for safety. On my list, I have 1 helmet, and 5 pairs of shorts and gloves. If I was to use the shorts, I will likely carry pants in the pannier.
Simply put, this is intended to discourage theft. The idea will be to attach the bike to a bike rack, and therefore reduce the chance of someone stealing it. I personally feel bikes should have a GPS tracking and offer a means in which a 2G signal can send messages if lost/stolen, but that makes too much sense.
Better Saddle Seat
The seat on a sub-$200 bike is likely to not be good. If I am going to use the bike to get from Point A – Point B, it has to be tolerable to ride on.
A toolkit should give me all of the basic tools I will need to do basic maintenance and repairs. Just as someone who owns an automobile should have basic tools to replace a tire, or connect a battery – a bike owner should have the appropriate tool kit to do basic maintenance.
Water = Hydration. Need I say more?
Advantages / Disadvantages
Considering that bus fare is $3.50 ($1.75 with half-fare pass) for a round trip, the bike can reduce or eliminate the need of buses for the non-winter months. Another advantage is the ability to be more independent withouth sacrificing. It is hard for me to find reliable people to help with things such as groceries, or getting my dog to the vet. The bike can allow me to go to a grocery store with competitive prices, buy most of what will be needed for the month, and return home. I can take Malak to other neighborhoods and expose him to more environments while not forcing undue stress on my ankles. There is also the advantage of exercise. I am 6′ and weigh 250lbs. To say the least, most of that is not muscle. With a bike, and the reduction of bus fare for using the bike, this means I am likely to have more exercise, and replace some fat with muscle. During the Winter months, I can use the bike stand to keep up on exercise without the investment in a stationary bike.
The most significant disadvantage and the reason this can’t even be attempted is cost. Before taxes, the total with Amazon is likely to be about $1,435. At 7%, you are looking at an extra $100 for a price tag of slightly less than $1,600. And while this will be more functional than the Urb-E Black edition which is $1,700 + tax – it is still expensive, and well beyond my budget. Another disadvantage is possible medical. I have little or no mobility in my ankles. While I will likely get straps for the pedals to keep my ankles in place, there is still a chance that this and any pedal bike will not be an option for me. If that becomes the case, then I would have spent $1,600 for no value. At least with the Urb-E, there is no pedaling, although there is also no transporting neither.