I have a friend who is convinced that e-bikes will be the end of cycling as we know it. When we don’t have to pedal, we won’t, OR as e-bikes find their way into our underdeveloped infrastructure, manual bikes will be crowded out. This may be a slightly apocalyptic view of the situation.
The shop owners I speak to range from ambivalent to ardent in their support for e-bikes. I’ve had them tell me stories about families who could never ride together, but can now. I’ve had them describe the trickle and then steady stream of new customers crossing their thresholds. In my travels, I’ve noticed that shops in the West seem to have more e-bikes in stock than their cousins in the East. Is this to do with road space and infrastructure? Or is it cultural?
In my neighborhood, families with rusting bicycles hung at the backs of their garages are now reconsidering bikes as a means of commuting and running errands. Wholesale change hasn’t come. They are certainly not everywhere, but more and more of my cycling friends say they’ve been passed by out-of-shape looking people on ugly hybrids, only discovering at the last moment that the passer isn’t actually pedaling much at all.
The real heat of the e-bike debate seems to be in access to wilderness trails. For the purposes of this Group Ride, I’d rather leave that aside.
This week’s Group Ride asks, where will e-bikes go? Are they good for cycling generally? Or do they exacerbate all of the challenges we, as cyclists, are already wrestling with? Most importantly, do you want one? Or will you resist to your dying pedal stroke?