In recent months, reports of e-bike cyclists conflicting with pedestrians and other cyclists have been mounting. For example, cycling website cycle-space.com published an article called 4 Things to Hate about E-bikes,[i] or, this article from dailymail.co.uk[ii] describes how a woman walking her dog accosts an e-bike cyclist on his way to a doctor’s appointment.
To a certain extent, such events are to be expected as the number of e-bike cyclists increases across the world overall. E-bike cyclists are riding a different sort of bicycle after all, and it will take time for other transportation communities to get used to their presence, and for e-bike cyclists to learn how to respectfully and responsibly use their machines at all times.
But here’s why cyclists and pedestrians should support their e-bike brethren.
Pedestrians and cyclists have a hard time prying more transportation infrastructure dollars away from cars (i.e., more sidewalks and bike lanes). Since World War II, North American cities have been built around car mobility, not for bikes and pedestrians. The voices of motorists are louder and more numerous. It’s not that cars are evil, it’s just that sharing more transportation infrastructure with pedestrians and cyclists (and e-cyclists) would be nice. Right now, there’s no denying it: cars have the power.
However, with the number of e-cyclists growing every year,[iii] cyclists and pedestrians have a lot to gain by letting e-cyclists into the fold. More e-cyclists means more cyclists overall. This in turn means more bike infrastructure: more bike lanes, more cyclist rights, and ultimately this results in safer and more livable communities for everyone. That’s something every pedestrian and cyclist should be able to agree with. We are stronger together than apart.
Written by Joe Sneep