Of all the COVID-19 news flashes, predictions and bad tidings, perhaps no headline was more depressing than the one the Globe and Mail ran on May 16, 2020 – “E-bikes will rule the streets.”
It’s not that I don’t like e-bikes. I hate e-bikes. I’m not alone. Perhaps the only thing diehard cyclists and arrogant motorists can agree on is their distaste for battery-powered two-wheeled transit.
At this point, you may be wondering what my problem is. Why harbour animosity for a mode of travel that decreases carbon emissions and reduces traffic congestion? E-bikes make it easier for people to embrace cycling, since they allow the option of battery-assisted power on difficult stretches. Speeds that can push upwards of 25 km/h. These are all good points.
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I suppose it’s not the e-bike I despise; they actually look pretty sleek. It’s the way some people ride them that is vexing.
My ire was rekindled this week when I saw the poster child for e-bike misuse. Seated on his e-bike, the rider occupied an entire lane, holding up traffic as he lit a cigarette. He then drove for a block, rode between lanes and between cars, swerved back into a bike lane and rode there for a while. When the bike lane became busy, he hopped onto the sidewalk, almost knocking over a woman using a walker.
Are you considering getting an e-bike? Before you lay down between $1,500 and $5,000 for your brand new Daymark, take the Road Sage E-bike Quiz.
1Can I ride an e-bike on the sidewalk?
A. No. All bicycles, whether powered by your brute strength or that pathetic little battery, are prohibited from using the sidewalk.
B. Yes, if you are 14 years old or under. But if you are 14 years old and under what do you need an e-bike for?
C. I think you mean, may I ride on the sidewalk.
D. No, go ahead.
E. All of the above
2Do you need a license to ride an e-bike?
B. You’d think that anyone who is going to ride 25 km/h-plus on congested roads would need to crack a book or at least pass an online quiz, like this one for instance. But no.
C. No. But you need to fail a few personality tests.
D. All you need is a helmet and willingness to irritate people.
E. All of the above.
3Isn’t the single defining characteristic of a bicycle the pedals? Aren’t e-bikes really just weak motorcycles? Which of the following would be a better name for these electrically powered abominations?
B. Rick Astleys
F. All of the above.
4What do you call it when someone on an e-bike passes someone peddling furiously on a bike-bike?
5E-bike riders often swerve back and forth between the bike lane and traffic lane. Why is this okay?
A. Sometimes you feel like a bike, sometimes you don’t.
B. It’s exhilarating to go from being the slowest vehicle in the traffic lane to being the fastest vehicle in the bike lane.
C. “No reason, I just like doing things like that.”
D. All of the above.
6When was the first e-bike technology patented?
E. “And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.”
7According to a report from Deloitte, “Between 2020 and 2023, more than 130 million electric bikes (using all battery technologies) are expected to be sold globally, and in 2023, electric bike sales are expected to top 40 million units worldwide.” What will account for such spectacular sales?
A. Many European countries have embraced e-bike technology.
B. You don’t need to be an athlete to e-bike. It combines all the freedom and freshness of bicycling without the exercise.
C. E-bike use will lead to fewer car trips and lower emissions, with spill-over benefits for traffic congestion, urban air quality and improvements in public health.
D. E-bikes are fine, no matter what grouchy, hack journalists may write about them.
E. All of the above.
Where on the e-bike scale are you?
Answer all of the questions to see your result
Nice work, but you may be e-bike obnoxious
Congratulations! You're e-bike ready!
You may stille be e-bike naive
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