Midweek Post for January 25, 2023 – Are E-Bikes the Best Mode of Transportation?

Woman on E-Bike by u_d7hddm5o from Pexels.com

While this blog’s primary focus is on bicycle travel, it is also about bicycle advocacy. More than anything, I would love to see more people riding bikes versus in cars. A place where that is happening increasingly is Germany, according to an article over at Treehugger.com.

E-bikes are, in fact, becoming the most prevalent form of personal transportation in that country and Europe in general. And, as mentioned in the article, these European influences occurring not only in Germany but also Denmark and Holland are finally beginning to influence American culture.

German E-bike Popularity

The one thing that stands out when German people were surveyed about e-bike usage is that they are more fun. Being in a car at the beginning of a long work day or at the end definitely is not fun.

And this response was versus their views about other forms of electric transportation, such as cars or scooters as exhibited in this graph.

The other point is that e-bikes have multiple uses. Users responded that not only did they use them 67% of the time for recreational usage but they also used them for fitness activities 40% of the time.

The only factors that keep Germans from using their e-bikes for all types of transportation, such as for getting to work or running errands are lack of infrastructure and weather.

Most likely those are the times when it is raining or very cold or when these users needed to transport groceries or larger items.

An Increase in E-bike Usage

The view that bikes can’t be used for more practical applications, however, is changing, especially as options for adding a trailer or bikes built with cargo hauling options. So, that 68% of respondents who are staying away from using e-bikes will hopefully drop.

While electric cars and other forms of transportation are used for 15-mile trips, e-bikes are used for trips 9.3 miles in length. So, the amount of time Germans spend on their bikes as opposed to in cars, on scooters, etc. is almost equal. Keep in mind these are considered median distances.

So, why are Germans (and other Europeans for that matter) using and spending more time on e-bikes? Well, the most significant reason is the improvement in battery life, which means e-bike riders can go longer distances. The other reasons are, of course, e-bikes are better for the environment and for one’s health.

Why Americans Don’t Use E-bikes More Often

Most Americans claim that riding a bike in the United States is too dangerous, everything is farther away, and the infrastructure is either non-existent or in bad shape. Of course, like everywhere else, weather factors in. People think it is too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter.

I definitely agree with some of these opinions, especially the one about infrastructure. However, I saw an article recently that mentioned that exercising outside in the winter is good for you. As for summer, I’d rather be on a bike going somewhere versus in a hot car.

Additionally, this same study compared German e-bike usage to usage in the United States. The conclusion was that most trips people made in cars are 6 miles or less and a smaller percentage make trips of 10 miles or less. That means America really is prime territory for getting more people on e-bikes.

Resolution for More E-bike Usage

The longer e-bikes stay on the market, the more the technology that goes into them will improve. One of the big complaints about e-bikes, in addition to the batteries not holding a long enough charge, is that the batteries would sometimes explode or catch fire.

Fortunately, the cycling industry is responding to these problems. What’s left is e-bike riders (and all cyclists in general) need to feel safe and to have good places to ride. Germany is seeing an uptick in sales and a sharper focus on e-bikes with companies making it possible to lease them to increase employee well-being.

Picture of E-bike by fietzfotos from Pexels.com

Last Thoughts

Europe has always been ahead of America with its focus on various modes of transportation that aren’t cars. Clearly, a shift is occurring with a focus in society on health and the vulnerability of climate that seems to be transforming for the worse with each passing year. Getting people on bikes and out of their cars can only be a good thing, a positive for everyone that offers a higher quality of life.

Author: Doug McNamee

Freelance Content Writer, Travel Writer, Editor, and poet.

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