Have you ever been passed by a biker that’s barely peddling and thought: “Why in the world am I sitting in traffic like a schlub, when I can be whizzing around town on an electric bike?”
Electric bikes are bicycles with battery-powered motors that give riders a little boost, known as pedal assist. This assist is great for hilly terrain, hauling goods, going long distances, and overcoming physical limitations.
I know we were all hoping for fusion-powered flying cars, but in many respects e-bikes have the potential to play a huge role in future of sustainable transportation.
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1) E-bikes are all-inclusive
Pedal assist makes e-bikes accessible to a wider range of riders than traditional bikes. They simply require less peddling, effort and ability. Older riders, people with disabilities, and those with challenging commutes benefit from the added boost of battery power.
Imagine biking 7 miles to work without breaking a sweat. Or taking a 20 mile pleasure cruise with the family with no one whining about how tired their legs are.
2) Riding an electric bike is healthy!
Even with the assist, e-bikers are still getting a workout and a breath of fresh air, both of which come with health benefits.
According to StoryBikes, e-biking:
- Is great cardiovascular exercise
- Builds muscle in the legs, glutes and core
- Can boost your metabolism
- Is a low-impact exercise good for achy joints
- Has mental health benefits both from exercise and fresh air
3) E-bikes are multi-functional
Whether you want to haul a basket of bananas or a couple of kids, there is an e-bike for your needs. It is actually amazing how much variety there is in the e-bike world.
In many cases, you can even convert your conventional bike into an e-bike, which is much cheaper than a whole new bike.
Just take a minute to check out the selection of e-bikes at G&O Family Cyclery in Seattle (not an endorsement, just a good reference point!).
Some of the varieties include:
- Compact urban riding bikes
- Comfort bikes for leisure cruising
- Folding bikes for easy storage
- Cargo bikes for hauling kids and things that aren’t kids
- Speed bikes for those that wanna go fast!
4) Electric bikes are cheap…. er than cars
Okay, “cheap” is the wrong word — you should expect to spend at least a thousand dollars on an e-bike, and you can spend well over $10,000, if you so choose.
But here’s what you don’t pay for with an e-bike:
- Monthly payments and interest
- Carwashes, oil changes, air fresheners, fuzzy dice to dangle off the mirror, washer fluid, new floormats because your dog barfed on one — you get the idea
Compared to cars, e-bikes are WAY easier to buy and maintain, and they can do many of the same things!
5) E-bikes are incredibly sustainable
The folks at Bike Radar crunched the emissions numbers for common modes of transportation (walking, biking, e-biking, cars, electric cars, etc.)
Their analysis includes manufacturing emissions, fossil fuel consumption, and even food consumption needed to power the vehicle. It’s a pretty exhaustive analysis, although there are a lot of variables and moving parts.
Here’s the breakdown of total emissions for one kilometer of travel for each transportation method, in order from least to most.
14.8g CO2e per kilometre travelled by ebike. Despite higher manufacturing and charging emissions, e-bikes take less food consumption to power, and become more sustainable over time.
21g CO2e for cycling each kilometre, with most emissions coming from the extra food consumption needed to pedal a bike.
56g CO2e per kilometre. Despite zero manufacturing emissions, the average food consumption needed for walking creates more emissions than biking or e-biking over time.
90g CO2e per passenger-kilometre.
101 g CO2e per passenger-kilometre.
271g CO2e per passenger-km of driving. Just a nightmare of emissions all the way through — around 13 times more than traditional cycling.