Are electric bicycles good?

I’ve been mulling over the idea of pedelec bikes for the last few days. For those of you that don’t recall, pedelec bikes are bicycles with electric assist motors. You still have to pedal, just not as hard or as much. I posted this in a news roundup and there is another story now on engadget.com.

My initial reaction was: “NO! Nononononono. No. No. That is not the point of cycle commuting!” Being electric means they are still using electricity. And seeing as most electricity still comes from coal or oil that means that the pedelecs still pollute, indirectly. Futhermore, the second best part of cycle commuting is the health benefits, which you lose most of on a pedelec. Really though, the last thing I need is to have to deal with pedelecs trying to run me off the road as well as autos.

After awhile though, I started to like the idea. All I needed to do was realize that this product wasn’t for me. I don’t need to go get an electric bike, I can still ride my analog one. What this will do is get more people out on bikes. Will it use electricity? Sure, but these users would be in cars anyway and the bike, even if electric is far better for the environment (and traffic).

The pedelecs offer health benefits too. Just getting people out into the fresh air will be good for them. Even pedaling a little is better than pushing a gas pedal. Most importantly it will help build community. One of the best things about cycle commuting is talking to other people on bikes (something that rarely happens in cars). Studies have shown that people are happier and healthier if they are part of a community.

All in all, I think electric bikes are going to be a good thing. It will get more people out on bikes. Which is what we all want, isn’t it?

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