In Praise of E-Bikes

March 2024

From reducing emissions to lower cost, ease of use and more enjoyable transportation, e-bikes offer greater value for local transit.

For the resources needed to produce one sedan, we can produce 100 e-bikes.  Electric bikes require about 1/100th of the nickel, lithium, electricity and cobalt needed for an electric car.

An e-bike is a bicycle with a motor allowing its rider to travel up to 32 km (20 miles) per hour which is much faster than the 5 to 7.5 km (8 to 12 miles) per hour speed with just pedal power.  An electric cargo bike makes it easy to take kids to the library, swimming pool or for ice cream, and transporting groceries from the supermarket.

Saving resources is just one reason to embrace e-bikes.  Not everyone has the stamina, knees, heart and physical skill to navigate distances or hills without the assist available from an e-bike.  Many don’t have a driver’s license or car.

E-bikes provide easy navigation that bypasses cars stuck in traffic or forced to park a distance away from their destination.  Even in the hottest of weather, e-bike riders stay comfortable with a steady breeze in their face and no air conditioning.

The majority of trips are less than 5 km (3 miles) which can be too far for walking but easy with an e-bike.  There is no need to spend $100 filling up a tank with gas, oil changes or costly vehicle servicing.

With greater numbers choosing not to get a driver’s license or own a car, e-bikes are a smart choice.  Most cost between $1,400 and $7,000.

The Light Electric Vehicle Association states that the most popular electric vehicle sold in the United States for 2023 was the e-bike (790,000 projected) rather than the electric car (652,000 projected).

After 100 years building a transportation infrastructure for gas-powered vehicles, Toronto is focusing more on public transit and dedicated lanes for cyclists.  While this infrastructure continues to be built, high-rise communities have been slow to adapt.  Few communities offer a safe location for guests to park e-bikes, or to store bikes or e-bikes.  Many communities do not allow them to be transported on elevators or in hallways making safe storage impossible.

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