Business Center

Commuter Highlight: Riding an Electric Bike to Work with David Bourget

By: Sydney Lund, Transportation Demand Management Intern

September 30, 2019

Here at the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), we are working to enhance the quality of life and the environment of the citizens of Colorado by creating an integrated transportation system that focuses on safely moving people and goods by offering convenient linkages among modal choices. Many CDOT employees are serving as role models for their commitment to commuting to work by walking, biking, taking transit, or carpooling.

This week’s commuter highlight is David Bourget!

David is a Safety Programs and Analysis Engineer working at CDOT’s headquarters in Denver. David commutes to work by an electric bike. Read below for an interview with David where he talks about commuting to work by an electric bike and gives some tips to make the most of your bike commute!

David next to his e-bike in the bike storage room at CDOT’s HQ/R1 building.

How do you commute to work?

Right now, I'm doing more biking than anything else. But through the course of the whole year, I probably commute about 40% by bike, 40% by driving alone, and about 20% commuting other ways, such as taking the train or bus. I would much rather be on the bike than any of the other methods.

I normally get about 70 to 80 commutes out of my bike in a year. This year, I got off to a bad start, so it might be a little less. Last year for Go-Tober, I biked the most miles out of all the CDOT participants.

What type of an electric bike do you have?

I have an electric assist bike. If I stop pedaling, the motor will stop and I coast. I figure I do about half of the work on the electric bike, which automatically doubles my range. I am biking to and from work, which is almost 19 miles each way. That would be too far to do with a regular bike. Since I have the electric bike, I'm able to make the trip into work on a regular basis.

How much faster is your electric bike than the pedal assist bike?

I figured the electric bike is about 30-35% faster. I never rode a regular pedal bike to CDOT’s HQ/R1 building. But when I rode to the old CDOT building, it would take me 45 minutes on my electric bike and an hour with a pedal bike.

Why do you commute to work by bike instead of by car?

I figured out that biking takes me about twice as long as driving, but I think it is worth the extra investment of time. I figure I get four things out of biking to work: I get transportation, because I need to get to work; I get recreation, because I really like to bike; I get meditation because after biking I feel better; Lastly, I get exercise. Biking to work is a major part of my weekly exercise routine.

How do you manage biking if the weather is bad?

If I rode my bike into work, and it's raining when I go to leave, I just take the train home. I leave my bike here at work because we have a nice, secure bike storage room. Also, if there is any threat of ice, which happens a lot in winter, then I don't ride my bike either. That is why in the winter months, I probably get between two to five bike commutes per month. Some months, I don't get any, depending on the snow.

What tips do you have to other CDOT employees about riding bikes to work?

I would say that many times, biking becomes more time efficient because you get exercise at the same time that you are commuting to work. I think the electric bike is important for those that either can't do the distance, or don't want to invest the extra time spent riding a pedal bike.

The electric bike is a little pricey, but I figured the payoff period is about two years. The money that I will save from not driving includes the depreciation on my car, gas, and maintenance. It is probably going to take about two years for me to pay off my electric bike.

Are there any other obstacles that you have commuting to work by bike other than the weather?

One of the obstacles that I face is my personal schedule outside of work. I have a regular appointment during the week, which requires me to drive my car and eliminated a lot of my biking commutes. To mitigate this, I make two unlinked one-way biking trips per week. I started driving to work with my bike in the car. That way, I make my morning appointment, leave the car here at CDOT, and then bike ride home. Then, the next day, I ride my bike into work and take my car home since I have an appointment at night. That way, I'll get in two, one-way bike commutes in two days that I would have missed otherwise. My commute by car is usually around 18 miles by the highway, so I’m saving 36 miles on the car and CO2 emissions over those two days.

David’s e-bike with the battery in the rear of the bike.

What are some tips about owning an electric bike?

There was a small learning curve when I first got my electric bike. I would recommend downshifting the power or shutting it off when you are coming into a precarious situation. You don't want to move your pedal and get extra power that you were not counting on. After I rode for a little while, I was able to adjust for that pretty easily. Now I just usually ride on low setting on my commute into work. On the way home, if I am tired and I know I have enough juice in the battery to make it home, I put the bike on a higher setting since I am going uphill.

I have also noticed that people pay attention to the type of bike tires they have. With my electric bike, I have a little bit wider tires, which creates more resistance. But with the electric assist, that is not a problem. I would also suggest looking at the range. I think I bought the right bike because I have just the range I need. I do not need to plug in my battery at work. I can just charge it overnight. My bike range should be 50 miles, but when I use the electricity on high, the battery goes quicker.

Shopping around for the correct bike is also a good idea. I shopped for quite a while before I bought my bike. I saw some bikes online, but I wanted to test drive the bike. I actually test drove my bike and a couple other e-bikes a few times before buying the model I have now.

What biking gear would you recommend owning?

I don't know why I was resistant to this, but somebody told me to go out and get a good light. I bought a light, which is the equivalent of a low beam on a car, and it’s incredible! I almost never run it on high because I'm afraid of blinding the other cyclists. I keep it pointed down. If there is not a threat of ice in November, December, or January, then I will ride in the dark because the light allows me to actually see the path. One section that I ride on is regularly frequented by deer. The deer are not a problem, but the light gives the deer a lot of warning to get out of my way.

How do you get around on the weekends?

If I need to come down to Denver for an event, I’ll usually take the bus to the train, especially because I have a free EcoPass from CDOT. If I am not going downtown I usually drive. I got to admit that I get enough biking during the week. If I do bike on the weekend, it's usually on a pedal bike, not the electric bike.

Interested in commuting to work by walking, biking, or taking transit? Check out these biking and transit resources designed to help you commute to work.

Check out our past commuter highlight interviews here.

Do you commute to work by means other than driving alone? If so, we would like to highlight you! Send an email to Sydney Lund to be highlighted as a part of our commuter highlights series.