I try out an e-bike, chat about environmental issues and Green Drinks events with Sustainable Devizes chairman, John Schofield.
Firstly, a massive shout out to Jenny Dalton and the other members of the Seend Pork Pie Cycling Club, who, pie-fuelled, are zooming through the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, again! Last social media post saw them on day 4, from Ludlow to Haydock. In a couple of words; “bugger that,” perhaps adding “for a laugh,” for good measure.
As I’ve harked on previously, cycling is simply not my cup of tea; a cup of tea, maybe a bourbon biscuit is much more my cup of tea. An attempt to cycle the couple of miles to work a few years ago confirmed my loathing and total handicap for the pastime, when the handlebars collapsed on me.
This followed an episode where I struggled to cycle the steep track to the Caen Hill Lock carpark, only mounting the darn thing upon arriving at a break in the bushes, so people wouldn’t see me pushing it with an expression of failure smeared across my sad and exhausted mug. I just haven’t got what it takes; fact. I got as far down the canal as Foxhangers but, stuff the fox, I was the one hanging. An elderly couple breezed past me, the gent telling his wife, “we’ve done eight thousand miles this morning, maybe we should stop for a quick break?” Go on, geroff with yer!
Never say never though; the chairman of Sustainable Devizes stands at my front door in his Lycra, missing one bicycle. John Schofield has cycled from Bromham this clement afternoon, to let me try his e-bike; I did warn him past experience on this mode of transport was as wobbly as my balance.
So, I’m taking a quick trip around my estate, passing by the house and yelling, “this is so much easier!” Because it is; I could, at a push, make it to work, and back, alive, perhaps even further. “E-bikes are great at flattening out the hills!” John told me. So, if a slob like me can push extreme boundaries, just think what you could do with an e-bike; save the environment, not forgetting zipping past all those frustrated drivers, wedged in traffic in Devizes; the only movement they make is their fingers across phones, tapping out a whinging post for Facebook.
How apt under current traffic conditions in town, for the first in this season’s talks from Sustainable Devizes, on October 17th, on the subject of how to convert a bicycle into an e-bike. “Basically, it’s a bicycle with an added electric motor and battery,” John explained, and for all intents and purposes it resembles an average bike, the water bottle replaced with a battery and a neatly hidden motor at the pedals. “Legally the motor should only be activated when you pedal, so it gives assistance,” he continued, averting my fear it’d zoom away like a jet-ski! “Also, the motor must cut out when you reach 25kph,” as if I would contemplate that speed!
As it’s still a bike, you don’t need a license or insurance. But the million-dollar question is cost. After browsing a website and noting to buy an e-bike weighs in over 3 grand, John stressed it’s around £400 for a conversion kit.
We moved onto my own electric work vehicle, my trusty milk float. I was keen to ask, without getting overly political, “if a vehicle in the 1970s can be electric, shouldn’t they all be by now?” Does John think it’s oil industry backhanders preventing the growth of this, and many other greener solutions? “It is interesting that even after Tesla showed the world how to make great electric cars,” he replied, “the main manufacturers really haven’t got on with it. There has to be some pressure on them from the oil industry.”
Like many green issues, they don’t get the funding, something is amiss.
The bottom line, I feel, is the need to obliterate the concept that environmental issues are a bunch of whinging tree-huggers making a whole lot of fuss, and except change is overdue. I ask you what has a scientist to gain from lying, his pursuit only to discover how and why things function? A two-part question, the latter half being, now consider what a politician, hell bent on elevation up the ranks and wealth, has for lying? Beggar’s belief, it really is!
Still, knee-deep in water middle-Americans adopt the ethos it’s God punishing them for electing a Muslim president, and good old Trump will don a cloak, wear his underpants on the outside and save the day. It is no hoax, you blithering idiot. It’s not a paranoid hippy trip-out. Sustainable Devizes is not a registered charity, not a company out for financial expansion, least simply a social committee of likeminded individuals keen for change.
Electric cars and bikes just one of the many issues they discuss. “The previous chairman did petition the council for more charging points,” John explains, “Some of the members have written to various supermarkets to try to get them to put in charging points.” For I feel batteries running out is a point many worry about with electric vehicles. For John’s trusty bike though, with a range of 25+ miles, the battery has never run out, and if it did, he’d just cycle it home!
I sigh, wondering if I’m only preaching to the converted here, pondering if anyone who needs to change their ways will read thus far. For John has organised a regular social happening, aside from the Sustainable group, called “Green Drinks.” It’s basically a less formal pub beano where anyone with so much as a passing interest in environmental issues can meet and chat. “Green Drinks is more about socialising with people who either work in environmental fields, or who just care about the environment. It’s nice sometimes not to feel that the meeting has to be organising some way of changing the world,” John clarified.
“Such events happen in towns all over the world,” (http://www.greendrinks.org/) “So I thought I’d see if anyone in Devizes was up for it.” The first meet saw five turn up at the Vaults, discussing a range of topics from the political situation, to how to cope with slugs attacking your vegetables. John is aiming for the first Wednesday of every month, although this subject to change as it may clash with meetings from Sustainable Devizes.
For now, the next green shindig will be at the Vaults starting at 7:30pm on Wednesday 3rd October; all welcome, just look for the Green Drinks flag!