JONESIA: Electric bikes set to spark transportation revolution | iINFOnews

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(ADAM PROSKIW / iINFOnews.ca)

September 17, 2021 – 12:00


OPINION


I bought an electric bike a few years ago.

A few friends chuckled a little, one of them laughed outright, as if it were a Wal-Mart four-wheeled scooter or “trekking” poles. If I’m being honest I think I laughed a little when I saw the first one too, but only because it cost $ 10,000.

“I could buy a car for that.”

Now? I think they are the first step in replacing the car.

They are simple, reliable and manageable at any age. They can be adapted for people with disabilities. They are easily stored and maintained by the user.

When I moved to a mountain in West Kelowna, I stopped cycling with my old bike. Riding anywhere meant turning back. But with an electric bike, these hills are flattened. I can go from my home, 12 kilometers to downtown Kelowna, and get back on my battery. I got to City Park in 45 minutes. By car, it’s usually 30, depending on traffic.

Most e-bikes can now reach 50 km / h or more in a straight line with very little effort, if desired. People might misunderstand this about electric bicycles; runners can put in as much effort as they want. The only real variable is speed. 50km / h might not seem like much if you’re a car guy or late for soccer practice, but it’s a perfect commuter vehicle. If they set up proper protected bike lanes next to suburban routes – so people raging in cars can see how fast these other guys are getting home – rush hour would never be the same again.

Yes, everyone has seen skinny guys with color-matched helmets and jerseys, but they don’t attract anyone. E-bikes allow ordinary people to do the same. They are much more accessible than a car and without the obvious burdens of gasoline and insurance.

And, perhaps the biggest bonus with an electric bike – you’re not on a damn scooter. If you don’t have scooters in your city yet, wait. They are infiltrating the world. When they do, they appear out of nowhere in packs, littering sidewalks and parks. They completely replaced the rented bike in Kelowna for reasons that I don’t understand. A Kelowna doctor called them a “fracture factory.” Have you ever seen one wobble on a path or a road towards you? It’s terrifying.

My bike reminded me of transportation in general. I think the e-bike is not a bicycle for these purposes at all, but a basic transport unit. Except we live in Canada and they don’t do so well in the winter. But if this unit were a small electric vehicle, perfectly sized and powered for most trips around town, that would change everything.

I just don’t see cars and vans lasting. I am skeptical of resources, including electricity, for widespread use of large heavy electric vehicles, especially high speed ones. We need to cut greenhouse gases, yes, but it seems like a desperate attempt to keep cars like Blockbuster Video when we needed Netflix.

The way we move people is woefully inefficient, cumbersome, expensive, dangerous, and even stupid.

The fact that we allow the Ford F-350s and the Honda Civics to take the same route seems ridiculous to me. A bumper is one foot above the other. How does that even make sense?

On the other hand, every time I see a small car struggling to keep up with the speed of the freeway over the mountain hills, I think to myself: why couldn’t this guy just borrow some extra power? that the Ford F-350 isn’t currently using (usually because I’m pissed off that we’re going so slowly). And they probably could if their bumpers lined up and were able to exchange information.

To take it a step further, I like the idea of ​​autonomous vehicles, but they should work in a guided transportation system, especially on high-traffic roads, a system that can move traffic more efficiently and safely around roads. cities, prioritize emergency vehicles and specific routes.

I imagine cities divided into zones, like neighborhoods, where only small electric vehicles that can accommodate up to six people are allowed before reaching a major transport axis, where they physically join a shared energy convoy, like a train, to move at higher speeds. Arrived at their destination, they drop off and continue on their way. Same concept for highways, but these same small connected vehicles could be enhanced by connecting to a high-speed train. No passing, no collision, not even driving, really. You could do whatever you wanted in your own vehicle, like getting on a train car. No relationships with crazy people on the bus.

These neighborhood streets would allow truck traffic between certain hours, probably for guided delivery. Neighborhoods could reclaim their roads for more community amenities, reducing the need for more travel. Road repair and maintenance costs would decrease significantly, no need for traffic police or traffic accidents. Perhaps residents could rent the electric vehicles on demand like a taxi and not need to own or maintain them.

I realize that this all sounds a bit like a chronicle that a Holy Grail Kush bong offers you, especially since I started by talking about e-bikes, but no. I hate inefficiencies and my mind turns to them all the time.

Transportation must be disrupted, not changed. E-bikes are a great first step and hopefully lead to more off-road cycling trails (I’m looking at you, Peachland and West Kelowna, but congratulations Penticton), but should also change the way we think about transportation.

As long as it’s not a scooter.

– Marshall Jones is the editor of iINFOnews.ca


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