Sheila is a longtime resident of the East Bay, where the distances are just far enough and hills just steep enough to need to rely on a car. In October of 2012, she came to The New Wheel and purchased her first ebike.
With a regular five mile trip between Sheila’s home in the North Berkeley hills to her studio in Emeryville, she had been looking for an alternative to her car. The idea of a little help made a lot of sense, “On a regular bike, it’s a real chore to load it up and ride it up Marin Avenue. I mean sure, you’re getting in shape, but you’re also kind of spent. I got sick of that.”
Sheila’s ebike started as a commuter for the trip from her house to her studio where she works as a fine art photographer. It did not take long before it become much more than a pure utility vehicle: “I think two things happened: the more I road the more I enjoyed riding, and the more stamina I had, the less I wanted to be off the bike. Also, the more I felt guilty about taking the car... now if I drive the car somewhere I look at it differently, like, ‘Well, I’m driving, so I better do something that I couldn’t otherwise do on the bike’.
As a result of her newfound enjoyment of the road, Sheila discovered, once again, the neighborhoods she had lived in for years:“You get on the bike, and it’s an adventure. You go off and you see things and smell things and enjoy things that you otherwise wouldn’t in a car. [On a bike] you’re exposed to daylight and can enjoy the half hour jaunt to do your errand. I’ve found all sorts of bike paths that I would have never known about... It’s changed the way I get around. I attach my Burley trailer and load it up with my photo gear and take it up trails.”
Sheila’s studio is a neatly organized menagerie of medium format cameras and finely crafted photography equipment. Near the door stands her electric bicycle: Its probably the best thing I’ve bought... seriously. I think about my cameras, and I really love my cameras. I used to prize them above all else. Now I think I prize my bike above all else. That’s my favorite possession.