In some circles, electric bicycles have an undeserved bad reputation. Like just about anything new, they require an open mind and a positive attitude. As their popularity skyrockets worldwide, it’s only a matter of time before e-bikes take off in the U.S.
Busting E-Bike Myths
Fact is stronger than fiction, so we will bust ten popular e-bike myths below and reveal their truth.
Myth 1: E-Bikes are too fast
FACT: Most e-bikes travel at bike-like speeds. Class 1 e-bikes have a motor that cuts off after the rider reaches 20 mph. This is the top-assisted speed, not the average speed. Class 1 e-bikes travel on average two to three miles per hour faster than traditional bicycles on flat and uphill surfaces. Indeed, studies show that in some instances, e-bikes are slower than regular bikes, depending on the terrain and power produced by the rider.
Myth 2: E-Bike riders are reckless and dangerous
FACT: E-bike riders, like nearly all riders, are generally respectful of the road. We are unaware of any studies or reports proving e-bike use decreases public safety.
Myth 3: E-Bikes are too heavy
FACT: E-bikes are slightly heavier than traditional bikes, but the greatest contributor to a heavy mass in bicycling is personal weight, not the weight of an e-bike. It’s no different than riding a traditional bicycle with loaded panniers.
Myth 4: E-Bike access is a slippery slope for motorized vehicles on offroad trails
FACT: Pedal-assist e-bikes fundamentally differ from ATVs, off-road motorcycles, and internal-combustion off-road vehicles. Motorized vehicle regulations were written before the invention of e-bikes and shouldn’t be used to regulate e-bike use. E-bikes are emissions- and noise-free. PeopleForBikes works to distinguish e-bikes from motorcycles and bicycles so that e-bikes are understood and non-motorized trail access is preserved.
Myth 5: Bike paths will become a zoo
FACT: Most e-bike users are like most other path users – they generally respect the law of the road and are kind to others with whom they share public resources. Riding an e-bike is like riding a regular bike. If you want to break the law, you don’t need an e-bike to do it.
Myth 6: E-Bikes require more public process
FACT: Many studies have already evaluated how e-bikes and bike riders interact on trails. One study demonstrated that trying out an e-bike increased a person’s acceptance and reduced their uncertainty around e-bikes. In Colorado, the City of Boulder studied e-bike use on shared paths and found minimal “conflicts” between trail users, no observed crashes, negative verbal interactions, and safe passing.
Myth 7: E-Bike riders will be stranded in remote areas
FACT: There’s risk in everything we do; this is a lesson you learn the hard way. Climbers, hikers, and cyclists are rescued from difficult situations every day, and e-bike usage isn’t going to completely change how people behave. Self-reliance and proper preparation must be emphasized.
Myth 8: Speeding e-bikers can’t be regulated
FACT: Excessive speed on regular bicycles and e-bikes can be monitored and ticketed using radar guns. But this is a highly inefficient use of trail manager time. Furthermore, speeding on e-bikes has yet to be identified as a significant problem. Clear signage and public etiquette education are the best ways to encourage all trail users to travel at safe speeds.
Myth 9: E-Bike riders don’t understand trail etiquette
FACT: Sure they do. Most e-bike riders have years of trail experience and grew up as cyclists, so bring that trail knowledge into their e-bike usage. Furthermore, the typical e-bike rider is 45-65 years old and generally uninterested in reaching maximum speeds or passing other trail users without proper warning.
Myth 10: E-Bikes are cheating
FACT: We like to think that e-bikes aren’t cheating, they’re empowering. We need to embrace e-bikes because they encourage more people to get out on a bike more frequently. From older riders to those with longer commutes to people dealing with health issues, e-bikes provide important bike riding opportunities. We’re not saying they’re for everyone, but we believe that more people riding is not only good for everyone who rides but for the entire community. For more information and resources about electric bicycle usage, visit PeopleForBikes’ e-bikes page.
E-Bike Myths Busted
There are plenty of myths out there about e-bikes, but the fact is that these vehicles are fun to ride, offer health and environmental benefits, and encourage more people to participate in the joys of cycling.