“I’m the Reverend John Merz from Greenpoint Brooklyn and I’m the Episcopal priest at the Church of the Ascension. The electric bike I have is the Tern GSD S10. I have it outfitted with seating for my children as well as for my wife when she wants to ride.

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, we always just rode bikes. Into my adult life, I rode bikes fairly consistently and as I got older, I found that I was riding bikes more sporadically. This is partially because if I have to go to Manhattan for a meeting, I don’t want to end up sweaty.

I wanted to make sure I was riding an electric assist and not one with an accelerator. I realized that all it was doing was magnifying my effort and I started noticing that my cadences were exactly the same as I ever had on a regular, manual bike. The only difference is I have the same cadence level, but I’m getting somewhere consistently and also headwinds are not a problem. If you’re biking all the time along the waterfront or over bridges and things like this, you can’t underestimate what an 18 mile an hour head wind will do to you.

My general use of the electric bicycle is connected to what I do. I’m an Episcopal priest in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, but I’m essentially a community leader. I run the church and I also helped to co-found something called the North Brooklyn Angels, which is a large, mobile soup kitchen and social service unit that serves all of North Brooklyn. That unit is out somewhere in the neighborhood in North Brooklyn every day, feeding meals and providing social services. We do about 55,000 meals a year.

A little window into the life of a clergy person and community kind of activist- it’s very much a variable schedule. Where the electric bike comes in is that on any given day, I could be doing any number of things. Whether it be coming to the office to work and then being called on to pick up something for the mobile soup kitchen or going to visit somebody in a nursing home. Often just starting the day by taking my kids to school. All of this is not only ecologically problematic in a car, but just impractical as far as getting around five or six square miles quickly.

I have two children. A daughter, five, Phaedra, and my son, Vito. My daughter loves it, The five-year-old loves it and Vito likes it a lot too. What I do is I clip my speaker on to right where she is and there’s a radio show they like to listen to. So we listen to the radio on the bike and I usually take them to school or I take them to Domino Park or one of these neighborhood parks.

The car is a boring place to be for a child. You’re sitting there and you’re contained inside an enclosed space and you’re waiting to get somewhere else. But outside, my son is constantly calling out, “Fire Truck! Garbage truck!” They’re talking to each other, they’re talking to me.

I’ll say this as a native New Yorker. I’m 54 years old and I’ve lived here my entire life and I’ve ridden a bike a lot. This experience has opened New York up to me in a way that I’ve never experienced the city before. The accessibility to get to neighborhoods quickly. It allows me to not get caught in traffic. It allows me to experience the changing demographics of the neighborhood, the beauty of the people, the air, all of it. In a way that I’ve never experienced before. So you know, I’m obviously a convert.”

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