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Planning a trip can be one of the most stressful things – from the minute you decide to take time off to when you are sitting at the airport, several thoughts come to mind. How many days should I take off? Will my vacation be approved? What will the itinerary look like? Which hotels do you need to book and for how many days? What is the budget looking like? What are the key attractions you need to visit? And the list goes on.
Electric Bikes: Travel Buddy
Apart from all the usual things, another key consideration is the mode of transport. Once you land at your desired destination, how exactly are you going to travel in that city? Will you borrow a vehicle from someone you know there? Will you rent a car? Will you use public transport like buses and trams? Will you use Uber, Lyft, or similar services?
With so many questions on your mind as you plan the perfect trip, we want to help take some of the pressure off. Even if you are able to figure out one of the above key considerations – in this case, mode of transportation as you might have already guessed – it can be a big relief! The idea is to talk about a rising phenomenon in the world of transportation, known as E-bikes.
What exactly are E-bikes? Electric bikes are like normal bicycles that you are used to seeing but are powered by electricity (and hence have a motor, battery, and controller) instead of relying only on human peddling efforts. While they do not completely replace the peddling, the electric component helps to increase speed and decrease the effort required to drive it.
In this article, we will talk about the history of E-bikes, the cities that are actively promoting their use via e-bike sharing systems and enhanced accessibility, the pros, and cons of E-bikes, and much more! All so you can travel with a little more ease and have one less thing to worry about.
A brief history of E-bikes
You might be thinking Electric bikes are a thing of today. It can be surprising for many that the first E-bikes date back to the late 1800s. Many of these bikes were documented in various US patents and also a few years later in Japan and France.
Later, during the mid 20th century, mass production of these electric bikes had already begun. Up until the late 1990s, commercial use and availability remained low as traditional models still dominated the market. However, by the early 2000s, these bikes started being named ‘E-bikes’, ‘power bikes’, ‘pedal assisted’, etc. and started gaining popularity. With its growing use, it is expected that by 2023, E-bikes will grow by a staggering 40 million units!
Which Cities are Promoting the use of Electric Bikes?
All across the world, the use of E-bikes has been increasing. China is the world’s leading producer of E-bikes and actively promotes its use. Local governments in China banned or restricted the use of motorcycles in over ninety major cities just to promote the use of electric bikes. E-bikes are also one of the cheapest ways of travel in China and the country has used its regulatory system to promote its use.
If we talk about the United States alone, over 120 cities have existing electric bike-sharing systems. The ten largest systems in the United States are present in some of the biggest cities. The cities with the biggest bike-sharing systems are New York, Chicago, Washington, Minneapolis, Boston, Miami, Topeka, Philadelphia, Portland, and San Diego.
The use of electric bikes is increasing rapidly in the United States and also around the world. Cities such as Montreal, Monaco, Barcelona, Dubai, Clermont-Ferrand, Sao Paulo, Turkey, Abu Dhabi, Aruba, Santiago, Sibiu, Toluca, Toronto, Valence, Vila Velha, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Porto Alegre, Nicosia, Guadalajara, London, Buenos Aires, Salvador, San Sebastian and so many more.
While these may seem like a lot of cities, these are just some of the many cities around the world that have been promoting the use of electric bikes.
The major cities that have not yet adopted this new way of travel, are expected to launch electric bike-sharing systems soon. For example, two cities in Romania; Iasi and Dej, will soon be introducing electric bike-sharing systems.
Over a few more years, it will be difficult to find a major city that does not support the use of electric bikes. Even now, you can be in any continent such as Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania, North America, or South America, where you will easily find a city that has electric bike-sharing systems in place. Of course, you will not be able to find it in Antarctica but that is because of obvious reasons.
Why are Cities Promoting the Use of Electric Bikes/ What are the Benefits of E-bikes?
Obviously, there are numerous benefits that electric bikes offer. Here, we will talk about some of the major ones that are making people choose these bikes over other modes of transport:
1. E-bikes are Easy to Use.
The assisted peddling offers help to the driver, which means cycling on heights and uphill roads becomes less of a tiring task. This also allows people to travel longer distances than they would be able to on a traditional bicycle. Not only has this made personal use easy, but also aided in tourism e.g. tours around Central Park for New York visitors.
2. The Health Benefits are Tremendous.
Over the past few decades, there has been an increasing focus on fitness. Although cycling is peddle assisted, it still offers to be a medium of exercising while doing daily runs such as going to work, meeting friends, etc., or roaming around new cities as tourists. So while you might be worried about your time off from the gym while you plan your trip, using these e-bikes can compensate for some of that.
3. Lower Cost Than Traditional Transport.
E-bikes are much cheaper and can be a real money saver in the long run. Once the initial cost is borne, a lot of money is saved in terms of fuel costs, parking fees, and maintenance. We all know how much money can go to waste, when you are on trips, just on parking fees alone. Other than this, tech startups and governments offering bike-sharing services make it more ideal as no capital cost is to be taken care of.
4. A Way to Prevent the Spread of the Coronavirus.
The best thing about electric bikes is that they naturally promote social distancing. While you are traveling these days, getting infected by the coronavirus is a major concern for many.
Especially, when you are forced to take Uber or public transport to save costs. Therefore, the pandemic was a great time for the surge of electric bikes and that is exactly what happened. As people were not comfortable sharing spaces with others, the electric bike became the perfect way of traveling while maintaining social distance at a low cost.
Moreover, electric bikes reduce the traffic on roads allowing emergency vehicles such as ambulances and firetrucks to move easily throughout the city. The global pandemic caused many of these emergency vehicles to be on the road as cases around the world rose rapidly. Meanwhile, electric bikes tried to lessen the burden on roads to increase access for these emergency vehicles.
For more benefits related to the Coronavirus, you should read our article on how electric bikes can help protect against Covid-19.
5. And Obviously, The Environment!
How sad is our current state of affairs when it comes to the environment? From raging wildfires to tsunamis, from the increased air pollution to diseases being spread due to it, everything boils down to how people treat nature. E-bikes are one of the best ways to ensure we can be more nature friendly. As they run on electricity and not on petrol or diesel, they do not contribute as much to the harmful emissions.
Moreover, if you switch to solar panels for electricity, you will be making zero-carbon emissions from your travels! Of course, governments have been promoting the use of electric bikes for this reason majorly. Therefore, across many cities where electric bikes are available, you will find many charging stations that are powered through solar panels.
Why Doesn’t Everyone Consider Electric Bikes the New Travel Buddy?
While many people appreciate the use of electric bikes, there are also critics. It makes sense too because everything has its share of advantages and disadvantages. So, let’s take a look at some of the drawbacks of electric bikes:
1. Electric Bikes Have Limited Seating Capacities.
The biggest issue that arises for many when it comes to electric bikes is the limited seating capacity. When you are traveling, there are other people with you and you want to do everything together as a group. That usually means wanting to travel together as well.
Electric bikes usually offer a single seating capacity that cannot accommodate multiple people. There are electric bikes that can hold more people but they are not so common in public electric bike-sharing systems.
Moreover, everyone is not comfortable riding an electric bike. People who have never ridden two-wheeled vehicles find riding an electric bike complicated. They are afraid of giving it a try because they never learned how to balance on two wheels.
We do not consider this a deal-breaker because everything that is new to people seems a little scary in the beginning. For example, when computers were introduced to the public, many people were afraid that they would lose jobs as they would not be able to use such a complicated piece of technology. However, as computers became a dominant force in the business world, people learned how to use them eventually.
Therefore, we believe that with enough time, this criticism will eventually fade away.
2. Riding in Extreme Temperatures.
Riding an electric bike in extreme weather conditions can certainly be a pain that cannot be easily avoided. If it is too cold or if it is raining heavily, you will find an electric bike to be inconvenient.
When you are traveling, you are not accustomed to the city. You are not sure of the different terrains and routes in the city which can be a big hassle in case the weather is not ideal.
However, with the increasing use of e-bikes, city governments will be prone to ensure that there are specific routes for them that can aid them in difficult weather.
Also, as these problems come to the surface, manufacturers will try to bring innovations in the product that can help counter them. For example, to avoid the problems of heavy rains, manufacturers can make more electric bike models that offer some sort of shelter.
3. Ranges are extremely limited.
Traveling longer distances in electric bikes can be unfeasible due to a low riding range. The battery takes a long time to charge and can only be used for short distances without another recharge.
While traveling, tourists might want to travel long distances and can also find it difficult to locate chargers in an unknown vicinity.
While this can be a hindrance for some, better technology can help overcome this problem in the coming years through improved batteries, shorter charging times, and easily available charging stations.
4. Too Many Rules to Consider.
Different countries, states, and cities have different laws when it comes to the definition and use of electric bikes. In some places, you need to wear a helmet and in some, you don’t. There are varying speed limits and license requirements.
While this is true, it is also true for the use of other vehicles in different cities and countries. You cannot expect the same speed limits, license requirements, or other rules. Therefore, instead of worrying about the different laws, you can start learning them by reading the article on electric bicycle laws.
In our opinion, and in the opinion of many others, the social benefits offered by electric bikes easily exceed the social costs. The advantage of the reduced negative impact on the environment alone can surpass the issues with electric bikes.
When you travel you want to feel free, you want to be adventurous, and most importantly you want to have a good time. All these things are offered by electric bikes and that is why we strongly believe that they will become the new travel buddy for many travelers like us.
Think about riding in your favorite city. You are pedaling along to great views and enjoying the light breeze that passes through your hair. You look at the sun with a smile on your face as you zip through the narrow streets easily. You are not concerned with the traffic as you pass by jammed cars. You are not worried about the parking because you can easily take your bike anywhere with you (try to keep a bike lock with you).
You can ride it through the mountains, on the beach, and in many other places where traditional vehicles are not allowed to go. Now multiply these feelings by ten because we were just talking about regular bicycles.
If it were an electric bike, you would not even need to pedal much saving a lot of sweat in the process. The light breeze will turn into a strong gush of wind that will keep you cool in the summers. You will be able to travel much faster and will be able to enjoy all the benefits a regular bicycle offers.
Therefore, forget about the insignificant drawbacks and start considering electric bikes as your new travel buddy abroad and at home. That’s right! You should use electric bikes in your city too as they offer numerous benefits as your primary mode of transportation. Read our article on the benefits of riding an e-bike so that you can buy one for yourself!
We hope you found this article useful and we hope to see you on the road on an electric bike. We wish you lots of fun and safe travels!