E-Bikes Are For The RIGHT People, Not For Everyone
The use and enjoyment of e-bikes continues to skyrocket. We use them regularly for all kinds of activities, especially on the WNC trails. The pedal assist opens all kinds of doors for those of us who aren't as young as we act and with knee issues.
The most popular use around here is hunting and camping. Dual motor bikes make carrying gear and going long distances a breeze. Setup camp and then hike to the waterfalls and amazing views.
But, e-bikes are not for everyone. The motors are powerful and require training and practice. Young children should not be operating these bikes at all. Older teens should not ride e-bikes without supervision and extensive safety training. Helmets are necessary for every ride, no exceptions. The stories of children getting hurt or worse from electric bikes are heart-breaking.
We love helping people choose the perfect e-bike for their situation but, - we do not advocate buying e-bikes for children.
E-bikes are controversial on some trails and bike lanes because of how fast they can go. Down the road from us, DuPont State Park does not allow e-bikes on its trails. There are multiple editorials in our local papers complaining about e-bikes in bike lanes, and the criticisms make sense.
A bike without pedal assist will go around 12 MPH, for example. Obviously the speed depends on a lot of factors but they don't get much faster than that on a bike lane on the side of a road. Most pedal assist e-bikes can go 25 MPH, which is a huge difference. This has the potential to completely disrupt the activity in bike lanes and cause problems and accidents. There are initiatives in communities across the world to only allow non-pedal assist bikes in bike lanes and treat e-bikes as motor bikes.
Part of the problem is the newness of e-bike growth. The rules and regulations are behind the usage trends. Eventually things will level out and we will have a system that works for everyone.
Until then, the e-bike riding community needs to ensure best practices are followed. We need to be cognizant and respectful of riders who are not using pedal assist. Road rides are dangerous enough with cars and pedestrians. E-bike riders have to be exceptionally cautious and always observe safe speeds. We are having fun and enjoying our environment - not racing.
We would love to hear from you about your e-bike experience. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know your thoughts on the growing popularity of pedal assist bikes.