“One Day I hired a LEAP E-bike”

During August I hired an e-bike from LEAP and started cycling to Johnstone Station and travelling by train from to Glasgow Central Station. This replaced my 30 mile per day car journey from the village across the M8 into Glasgow. Guess what? I’ve now bought my own bike and travel to work this way every day. ‘Bike and train to work is faster, cheaper, less frustrating, and leaves some time on the train to check your email, plus arrive at work having had a bit of exercise and fresh air.’

“While I had cycled in the past, I didn’t own a bike and wasn’t quite sure what the terrain would be like and how long it would take me to cycle from Bridge of Weir to Johnstone. The E-bike was new to me too. It was so easy to hire the bike – I just called LEAP, booked it on a Long Loan Agreement for two weeks, left a £40 refundable deposit and set off after some instruction, with the bike, a cycling helmet, battery charger, a cycle lock wearing my high visibility west and carrying my e-bike instructions. My experience of using the motor power on the E-bike, made the cycling distance much easier. Also to get used to cycling the powered bike, I kept it on a low battery setting and used the batter power only when I had eased into the cycle.’

Why did I start cycling to work?
The last three years of driving on the M8 prompted me to think more seriously about cycling. Three years of negotiating the nursery traffic, then a slow demoralising progress along the motorway – plus a daily search for parking on arriving in Glasgow. My journey to work was taking around an hour usually, costing a lot on petrol and as I was driving alone wasn’t really a good way to start the day.

Pushed on by a change in the family routine with my daughter starting primary school in Bridge of Weir, the chance to hire and trial an electric bike (an E-Bike) through LEAP seemed like an ideal opportunity. Plus the prospect of some exercise was appealing. So this is my experience during the 2 week E-Bike trial. The plan was to go from the school, pick up the bike, cycle to Johnstone railway station, train to Glasgow Central, and cycling the short 1k distance from the station to work. And get back the same way, dry hopefully! I thought it good practice to write of my experience in the first 3 days of cycling so that I could share my experience and tips with other e-bike cyclists.

Day 1
Set off on first day (without car!) on the E-Bike. Bright morning so the route into Johnstone through Brookfield was pretty spectacular with views over to the Campsie hills and a clear line of site to Ben Lomond off to the left. Using the powered motor on the bike made the distance much easier, although I kept the bike on the Low setting as having a powered bike does take some getting used to. On starting off it does pull away from you a little. I came to the conclusion that it was best to fire up the power once moving. Journey through the back of Brookfield takes you past the rear of St Benedict’s high school then onto the footbridge over the A737. At this point I turned right at the huge pencil sculpture for signpost Johnstone. This takes you out into Morrison’s carpark however, not where I had anticipated being, so you can then join the main road, down Johnstone High St., Lidl’s then up to the station from there. I made it to work just after 10am feeling great, and not particularly sweaty. This might be the way to go I was thinking.

Day 2
Made it in to work BEFORE 10am today, so took 20 minutes off the journey yesterday. Rather than leaving the cycle path at Morrison’s supermarket near the A737 I discovered there is a route which takes you to the station via suburban roads in Johnston. So as you cross the A737 over the pedestrian bridge turn left toward paisley instead of right toward Johnstone. Follow the cycle path for approximately 150 metres then exit the path to the left (or later to the right) doubling under the bridge toward the side of Malcolm’s depot on your right. A few wide suburban streets will take you to the main road near the station, avoiding any main roads at peak times completely. Have a look at Google maps, that’s where I found the route, use the cycling option top left.

My journey time was however also reduced due to being better prepared the night before and having all my gear already in my bag ready to scoot out the door, rather than pulling all that together just prior to leaving!

Day 3
Again on bike via the station in Johnstone into Glasgow I arrived into work before 10am, rather than 10:30am using the car and having to find a parking space in the city. This is a huge advantage – a car may get you into the city but then you have to park it and walk to work also. With a bike you just go straight there. I also found some great waterproof saddle bags which clip onto a bike’s pannier rack. So any electronic items like iPads would be well covered if the rain came on, which it will at some point.

And when I returned the E-bike to LEAP, after my 10 day hire, I was able to report that I had replaced 300 miles of car travel on the e-bike – Quite extraordinary when you measure it!

So the next week, I went to The Bike Station, a social enterprise based up behind the Kelvin Hall who re-condition and sell bikes, and advise on bike maintenance.

I am sure I won’t be cycling every day over the winter, but come each bright frost free autumn day in November, you know how I will be getting to work.