Monday, August 29, 2011

The Swiss Alps on an Electric Bicycle

The New York Times, while it already had my frequent attention, is all the more attractive in its frequent coverage of bicycling topics. This Sunday it told another tale of electric bikes, which I've presented on this blog a couple times earlier. This time, it's electric bikes in Switzerland that are gaining a 2-page spread. The Swiss Alps on an Electric Bicycle made the idea of taking a 60 pound electric-assist bike through mountain passes quite attractive. 

Will battery tech continue to cost less, and weigh less, to the extent that we will soon see many more folks on bikes? Folks who typically wouldn't give biking a try? Will my neighbors, who typically go from insulated garage to car to insulated retail establishment, grow a bit more intrepid and hop in the saddle?

Let's add to this picture. Bike lanes.  Believe it or not my local township has included bike lanes in their visioning and architectural sketches. Their engineering and architectural consultants have explained how bike lanes are part of a solution to reduce traffic and increase interest in the township as a destination. Behold, progressive thought! Standing in contrast to these ideas are conservative fiscal approaches, which rely on private investment exclusively  (and greater tax revenue from their increased investments)  to build said bike lanes. 

Anyway, is there a future that includes larger numbers of semi-bicyclists (those using power assist) using more bike lanes to make short jaunts to the shopping center? What would cycling be like if pedal bikes (no electric assist) became the minority in bike lanes, while electric assist bikes dominated them?


Anonymous said...

hmm, we see more and more of them in the bike lanes in Vancouver. They are classified as bikes so can be in the bike lanes on the roads, however the Parks board here has banned them from the bike paths and SeaWall (which is technically park land), which I am grateful for... Sorry, but I believe in self propelled beasts for parks and bike paths... I'm ok with them in traffic though...

Ben said...

I think I'd lean toward your "policy" of "not in parks" and "ok for commuting". What about trails? I think not. It's like the invasion of motors and higher tech into the realm of something that works so much more simply.

John Romeo Alpha said...

I tend to look down on them overall, because I think people would be better off pedaling, which is not that hard after all. Unless the rider is old or handicapped, then whatever it takes is OK by me. Which is relevant to your post, too, since the recent disabilities ruling by the Feds means that any trail that is accessible by bicycles has to permit and support access by the handicapped on their powered conveyances. So I would imagine we'll be seeing more power-driven mobility devices of all shapes and sizes out on the paths in the States.

DOJ Ruling here.