How To Sustain the E-Bike Boom: Make Riders Feel Safe

Riders of electric and non-electric bikes alike agree that they would ride more if they felt safer on city streets, signaling a need for an increased focus on bike infrastructure.

May 19, 2022, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Protected bike lane New York

Jim.henderson / Wikimedia Commons

“With battery-powered motors that assist riders as they pedal, e-bikes enable a broader range of people to make more and longer trips than traditional bikes. And they are cheaper, more efficient, and less resource-intensive to manufacture than electric cars.” Like electric cars, e-bikes require infrastructure improvements to make their widespread use practical and safe.

“There is no great mystery in how to get more people to ride e-bikes (as well as traditional bikes),” writes Ira Boudway in Bloomberg. “In polling commissioned by the advocacy group PeopleforBikes in 2018, nearly 70% of respondents across eight U.S. cities said that roads are not safe enough for families to bike and, of those, 63% said they would ride if they felt safer.” Research shows that “In city after city, when protected bike lanes are added to roadways, ridership increases.”

New bike infrastructure doesn’t have to be expensive, notes Boudway. “Fortunately, thanks to decades of spending on road and highway building, the infrastructure needed to create these networks already exists. Cities don’t need to pour asphalt; they just need to commandeer some of the surplus of streets from cars.”

Boudway points out that a majority of Americans support more bike and pedestrian infrastructure when polled, yet progress remains painfully slow as city leaders give in to the NIMBY minorities who protest loudest.

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