The Chainlink

There is a certain sense of inevitability to e-bikes now.  Slowly, I'm beginning to see some positives.  I will never regard a vehicle that can propel itself with no pedaling at all as as a bicycle.  But I can accept pedal-assisted e-bikes as legit.  It seems that when the bikeshare bikes are electric and pedal-assisted, they are used a lot more frequently, which is overall a good thing.  And for sure, they can be great for older cyclists and people with some physical disabilities.  I do think they should be speed-restricted to lower speeds than they are.  There is no need for 25-mph e-bikes on bike paths and in bike lanes.  I guess that will eventually sort itself out somehow.  I still want to keep full-on scooters exclusively on the roads, and I'm still not bit on the two-wheeled scooters.  Maybe that will evolve as well.

E-bikes taking the lead

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Divvy is about to roll out 10,500 pedal assist e-bikes in Chicago. I believe their plan is to eventually replace all of their traditional pedal bikes with e-bikes. 

They are speed restricted to 18mph.

I think it's awesome and look forward to a less sweaty and slightly faster commute. 

Yep, I'm in my second "year" (March-November) of commuting by ebike, 8 mi each way. It's pedal assist. I take it easy when I'm going to head straight into a meeting and tend to sweat on the way home. When I commuted by regular bike, the packing, changing, and washing up was such an ordeal that I only did it once a week. I love the ebike... I just wish the weather would cooperate and I didn't have to take public transit in the winter! This is the fifth year that my husband and I have been carless in Chicago.

The "speed" debate is a little tiring. I am with kitted men on the LFT all the time who are going >20 mph, as I occasionally did on my regular bike.   

I largely agree, but I think one difference is if a rider can do over 20 for a sustained amount of time on a traditional bike, they've earned that speed through experience most likely.  That means they're probably also an experienced rider in terms of holding a line, calling out turns and changes in pace, etc. 

The fear for an e-bike rider at that speed is an inexperienced person can just hop on one and instantly go over 20.


That said, I think 18 is a pretty good compromise, and I'm not really all that worried about people doing 18 on a pedal-assisted e-bike.  

So I was riding my e-bike on LFT a few days ago, and came upon a guy who was doing sprints at 30mph, all legs. I'd eventually catch back up to him, because that's not sustainable. But I was definitely impressed.

That being said, I have 40,000 miles of e-bike riding experience in the past 4 years. I can regularly sustain 20+ mph for 10+ miles when using my own legs in addition to the bike. I have never once gotten close to causing an accident on the LFT, because I know how to handle my bike.

Where do you draw the line when your reasoning is based on experience? Should I be able to go 30+mph? Should I be limited to 15mph just because I'm on an e-bike (meanwhile, the other guy is doing 30+mph without electric)?

I just don't understand the big deal about experience here. I don't think it takes much to learn how to cycle safely at speed. 

Compared to when we're driving 2-ton metal-encased living rooms cars, cyclists have a huge incentive not to get into accidents. 

The real problem is variation in people's appetites for risk. Some people are clearly so into their PRs that they don't follow or pass at safe distances. I'm guessing they won't be on ebikes.

I would support some kind of speed limit (like 25 mph) on the trail when others are near, but I suspect the main risks will still be people weaving around with their headphones in or who refuse to slow down when needed, i.e., who just don't care. Skill seems barely relevant.

I was behind an electric pedicab trying to cross the LFT river bridge on a crowded Thursday afternoon. This vehicle had turn signals, brake lights, and a LICENSE PLATE!!  Where are we going to draw the line on LFT users??



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