Bikes are a great mode of transportation. But can they meet most of our needs: yes and no. While the bike provides excellent transit for most urban dwellers, we do forget that not everybody is able to ride a bike for various reasons. The electric bike is closing that gap making it a viable alternative for those that might have to pass on just the leg powered version of our two wheel wonder.
Half a world away, in San Francisco, the president of that city’s board of supervisors, David Chiu, uses an electric bike to get to meetings without sweating through his suit.
And in the Netherlands, Jessy Wijzenbeek-Voet recently rode an electric bicycle on a long trip that, at 71, she would not have been able to make on a standard bike.
Detroit may be introducing electric car designs and China may be pushing forward with a big expansion of its highways and trains. But people like Mr. Jiang, Ms. Wijzenbeek-Voet and Mr. Chiu — as well as delivery workers in New York, postal employees in Germany and commuters from Canada to Japan — are among the millions taking part in a more accidental transportation upheaval.
It began in China, where an estimated 120 million electric bicycles now hum along the roads, up from a few thousand in the 1990s. They are replacing traditional bikes and motorcycles at a rapid clip and, in many cases, allowing people to put off the switch to cars.
While I wouldn't want the electric bike movement to hurt the good old standard bike, it is great that an alternative exists to getting a car for those that might need some help or travel long distances.