There has been much interesting and passionate discussion about the place for e-bikes in the multi-modal universe following an earlier post this week in which I mentioned that a cyclist can, in the right conditions and when in the right condition, easily outrun an e-bike.
Personally, I would like the provincial government to take a second look at the way e-bikes are being manufactured, presented and sold.
My understanding of the electric-assist bicycle was that it was framed as a cyclist-assisting device that was a negligble polluter with a renewable fuel source. Two fuel sources, in fact, since one of the sources is the rider, through the attached pedals.
I test road a BionX, which is a retro-fit kit that can convert many bicycles to e-bike requirements. It was simple: I could still pedal on flats, downhills or whereever I wanted, and then could engage the electric-power-assist when encountering headwinds, steep grades or whatever. Makes perfect sense to me.
What I have trouble is the faux-scooter e-bikes (such as this example above simply lifted from one of many sites promoting e-bikes). Frankly, I'm amazed that its wee motor can carry one or two passengers (yes, you can carry two passengers if it is designed to do so) on the flats, let alone up a grade.
And let's talk about the energy-efficiency of this: how much plastic-fibreglas-resin (aka petrochemical processing industry) goes into actually making this bike. It might be mistaken for a landfill on wheels.
So, this e-bike depicted here is to behave on a road comparable to a bicycle. And it is to use multitrail facilities? It may be used on sidewalks where appropriate? It will be walked through crosswalks? It will be chained to bike racks and not parked in auto parking spots?
Oh man, couldn't you just see the questions that would be coming down the pipe when these e-bikes were in the trial period?
Is an e-bike a bicycle and should it be treated like one?