The only benefit of hitting the 60 mark

Like so many other people born in 1964, I am considering turning 60 next year. It’s definitely not a decision I will be taking lightly. I’ve really only just started researching the pros and cons of becoming a 60-year-old, but already I’m thinking that continuing to identify as a 59-year-old might be the better option.

One thing that does appeal, however, is that 60 is the official age at which you can own an e-bike without being judged. I know that I won’t be alone in feeling a certain level of bitterness and resentment that you can get when, biking into a persistent headwind on a long, boring uphill section of the rail trail, you are overtaken by a 40-something guy on an e-bike. Followed by his teenage children, also on e-bikes! Lazy, inconsiderate egomaniacs. It’s selfish people like that, using up our scarce electricity supplies, who are responsible for poor elderly folk in Christchurch being unable to heat their homes in winter.

However, when a couple of 60-year-olds come zipping along on their e-bikes, you think, ‘‘Good on them for keeping active and exploring our beautiful country, instead of sitting at home, whinging about the demise of Coronation Street and voting for NZ First.’’

And, although I joke about the drain on our energy reserves, e-bikes use way less electricity than electric cars. Many people argue that the subsidies in place for people switching from petrol-diesel vehicles to EVs should also apply to those of us interested in choosing an e-bike. The benefits could be huge, especially in urban areas, where people commuting to work by e-bike would ease congestion on the roads and reduce pressure on parking. And, of course, reduce electricity demand at critical times.

Unfortunately, however, as with any new trend, there are downsides as well as benefits. Some authorities are concerned, for example, that the rapid rise in the popularity of e-bikes among the over-60s will see an escalation in bikie gang culture in our older generation. Rumour has it that the notorious ‘‘Hells Rodents’’ are looking to establish a chapter in the South. As can be seen from their hideous gang insignia, members are drawn together through their passion for biking and their shared love of chihuahuas.

But, on balance, the growth in e-bike ownership is very positive. People are staying active and, as more and more people use the fantastic (and still expanding) network of bike trails we now have in the South, local cafe owners and publicans will also reap the benefits. As well as the odd dog bite to the ankles.