Can e-bikes help climate change?
The recent pandemic has changed the way we look at the world, and one thing that exploded was more people heading outside. One of the trends to blow up was the “e-bike” craze. In addition to contributing to more healthy lifestyles, can e-bikes help climate change? Electric bikes are built for people on the go, and can provide an alternative to driving in big congested cities like Vancouver and Toronto. E-bikes also provide an additional transportation option in smaller cities like the Comox Valley that have limited public transportation infrastructures. E-bikes are one of the most energy efficient and low polluting mode of motorized transportation that exists on the planet today. Anytime a person takes an alternative to a fossil fuel vehicle, the better it is for the planet.
Types of e-bikes
With the on going popularity, we are seeing many companies improving the designs of e-bikes. E-bikes can be classified into three categories:
Comfort/Cruiser style: designed for the casual recreational rider that wants comfort and control.
Hybrid / Commuter: This category is designed for commuting to work, getting around town or just getting some great exercise. These help get you to your destination faster.
Mountain / Off-road: These off-road e-bikes climb hills like a goat. This category is designed for riding off road on trails.
Specialty designs emerging to meet consumer need
Pedego with their own brand of electric bicycle, designed the Pedego Stretch, created to be a cargo bike for delivery, hauling groceries or your kids! The Stretch is a perfect example of the versatility of e-bikes overall. The wide range of uses for electric bikes is starting to push more and more companies into this market. Even car manufactures are getting in on the popularity. Ford Motor Company partnered with Pedego to design the Ford Super Cruiser e-bike. And Bosch known for high end appliances – is getting in on the trend.
E-bikes help climate change
Overall, about 10% of the North American population rides bikes. But if the other 90% of the population can be reached by removing barriers to bike riding, e-bikes can be part of the climate crisis solution.
Bonus Tip Buy Local:
Canada is a leader in the electric bike space. We have many home grown companies from e-bike designers, builders, manufacturers and retailers.
Many cities and municipalities are planning for greener transportation. The City of Vancouver’s Transportation 2040 plan includes a component for increased bike routes throughout the city.
And in June of 2021 Translink announced a $125 million investment in infrastructure upgrades, including earmarking $36m for bike and multi-use paths.
The District of Saanich’s Community E-bike Incentive Pilot Program launches on October 12, 2021, they are offering an incentive on the purchase of new e-bikes by Saanich residents for personal transportation. They have also published a great e-bike fact sheet.
All of this is good news for avid cyclists as it makes bike commuting safer and readily accessible.
Benefits of owning an e-bike
- Electric bikes travel at speeds up-to 32 kilometres per hour and can last up-to 100 kilometres between charges.
- E-biking is transforming the lives of countless people physically and emotionally.
- Exercises, like high-intensity cycling, can help maintain adequate blood flow to the brain and improve overall cognitive activity.
- Allows people to ride farther and longer than a norma pedal bike – opening up opportunities
- Emission free and non-polluting.
- They are classified as a bicycle so no driver’s license or insurance is required (although a minimum age restriction may apply; for instance, in B.C. you must be 16 or older).
- Overall, biking is just plain fun.
- Pedal-assistance can make bike riding easier for those who need to have less physical demands on joints, knees, hips and muscles.
- E-bikes can help remove barriers to biking such as difficult terrain (what city doesn’t’ have hills), inclement weather and physical limitations.
- Can improve heart and lung health.
What to know before buying a e-bike
According to Karen MacDonald and early e-bike adopter, her biggest piece of advice is, “test drive before you buy. There are many models on the market and they often operate differently in terms of gears, assist and even braking. It is best to understand the difference between pedal assistance and throttle only models.” It is important to evaluate how you want to use the bike and then find one to suit the needs of the rider. Look at how far the battery can go on a charge and how long it takes to get a full charge.
Difference of e-bikes to traditional bikes
- E-bikes are heavier and can weigh over 50lb.
- Because they go faster, there is a higher risk of injury
- Handlebar throttles can be dangerous
- Significantly more expensive than a traditional bike
- Annual budget for maintenance and accessories is higher
- May need special insurance for an e-bike
- E-bikes being sold in BC, must meet the requirements of the Motor Assisted Cycle Regulation.
- Batteries need to be removed when not in use
- May require a special locking system
Many e-bike retailers are selling online directly from oversees, often with no after purchase support. Look for a local retailer, talk to the experts, test drive and find the bike that is right for you. In Canada we have many design, manufacturers and distributors such as Volt Bike in Burnaby, BC. They try to keep prices, reasonable, ship 90% assembled and keep shipping prices to a minimum.
Visit a store or a show room and talk to the experts. Those in the e-bike space are passionate about their bikes and can offer lots of good advice. They can point out differences, answer questions, arrange for a test ride and demonstrate the features and benefits that are making these green vehicles the latest personal mobility craze.