When New York City Banned the E-Bike

When New York City Banned the E-Bike

May 27, 2013. Article Viewed 6689 Times

Banning electric bikes is like banning skim milk. There are innumerable people for whom ordinary bicycles are not adequate to their needs, who find electric-assisted bikes and trikes to be perfect for themselves. They are not officially considered disabled and would not appreciate this designation, and they have sufficient mobility to be able to enjoy the benefits of getting some healthful exercise through the pedaling that they do. They will not be permitted to enjoy the benefits of this, lately much-improved, transportation technology, because of the perception that this type of vehicle is responsible for a rash of serious injuries and deaths, even in the absence of any evidence whatsoever of this.

Preserving the virtual monopoly of industrial-scale, gasoline-powered vehicles in this country is accomplished in many ways. Allowing dangerous behavior by motor vehicle operators scares most people from considering the use of human-scale alternatives like bikes. Economic interests with a large stake in the status quo will use any means they can, especially by influencing public officials cowering in fear of tabloid editorials, to prevent new forms of competition. The dramatic upgrade in ride-ability, range, comfort-level and even safety afforded by an electric-assist model, to a great many existing and potential riders, is huge. Only 40% of New Yorkers have cars and they need options, of which this, especially due to its health benefits, could become a preferred one.

Human-powered transportation is clearly the most appropriate for crowded urban spaces like New York City. Electric-assist models (not so much their much heavier, moped-like un-pedal-able cousins) are identical in every way to ordinary bikes, except that is designed to not exceed 20 MPH, so they are actually slower. The same way in which every major car company now has an electric or hybrid model, all bike companies are now providing electric-assist versions. 25% of all the bikes sold in the Netherlands are electric-assist models. This proposed ban will be trumpeted around the world, and we will be looked at as a society in serious decline, so strangled by corruption, greed, and stupidity, that we are willing to ignore the imperatives of the future. Unfortunately, this action powerfully affirms that judgment.

Now that their customers have become acclimated to rapid deliveries, the adoption by the restaurant industry of noisy, dirty, legal, gas-powered mopeds, will be instantaneous. The environmental and health damage wrought by this setback will be substantial. Local restaurants will be heavily penalized for investing in appropriate, non-polluting transportation. Just at the moment when they are just being subjected to a host of new regulations regarding the identification of riders etc. before it can be determined if those new conditions result in a more sedate and safer industry, this sledgehammer drops on an entirely new transportation mode.

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27 May 2013