Electric bikes can democratize bicycles for millions of Americans
Few bike-advocacy groups are guardedly optimistic on the matter of e-bikes, or at least cautiously ecstatic. The executive director of Transportation Alternatives, Mr. Paul Steely White says that electric bikes can democratize bicycles for millions of Americans. Now, think about the people who will be drawn into bikes by the promise of support when going uphill. The crucial factor for bicycle safety, more than helmets or lights or bike lanes, is the number of cyclists on the roads. With more folks on the bikes, the safer are the conditions for everybody on the bicycle. Bicycles are the rare varieties included into an urban ecosystem to discourage cars.
I was searching for the e-bikes for sale, and the price was about two thousand and some change each.
The salesman told me that the correct term is “pedal assist” and not “electric.” “It looks like you’re pedaling, but you don’t do a thing,” he said.
After a while, I was in Paris. I could see the bikes on every corner, everywhere. Bicycles on the bus lanes, while cars very carefully go towards people on two wheels. While driving down Boulevard Saint-Germain on a Vélib’, a girl in a dress with short blonde hair cruised past me; her smart bag flung across her shoulder. I instantly thought of that sense of joyful stealth or deception implied by the bicycle salesman in New York. Yes, she was pedaling, but it was evident that she had some additional help. We both stopped at the red light. When it turned green, she placidly cruized forward and out of sight.
I started looking for e-bikes to rent. I found a shop that was dealing Holland bicycles, both regular and electric. The salesman agreed to lease me one, and so my journey began. The feeling was amazing. I moved much faster than I did on an ordinary bike while on a flat road. Downhills were pretty much similar to a regular bicycle. I managed to maintain the speed going uphill with a bit more exertion. From time to time I could feel the bump of electric power. The only obstacle was that I began to desire that bump. It was the feeling of the support I wanted.
I feel that there is a border between human power and non-human-power. There should be an apparent classification: human-powered and non-human-powered. As such, you shouldn’t be using human-powered equipment on non-human-powered infrastructure. So, we should license electric bicycles as motorized vehicles, but we shouldn’t be using them in human-powered infrastructure.