Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth Transportation Power Technology

Electric Bicycles Surging In Popularity 533

Posted by kdawson
from the look-ma-no-feet dept.
gollum123 writes "An accidental transportation upheaval began in China, where an estimated 120 million electric bicycles now hum along the roads, up from a few thousand in the 1990s. They are replacing traditional bikes and motorcycles at a rapid clip and, in many cases, allowing people to put off the switch to cars. The booming Chinese electric-bike industry is spurring worldwide interest and impressive sales in India, Europe, and the US. China is exporting many bikes, and Western manufacturers are also copying the Chinese trend to produce models of their own. From virtually nothing a decade ago, electric bikes have become an $11 billion global industry. In the Netherlands, a third of the money spent on bicycles last year went to electric-powered models. Industry experts predict similar growth elsewhere in Europe, especially in Germany, France, and Italy, as rising interest in cycling coincides with an aging population. India had virtually no sales until two years ago, but its nascent market is fast expanding and could eclipse Europe's in the next year. In China, electric bicycles have evolved into bigger machines that resemble Vespa scooters. These larger models are causing headaches for global transportation planners. They cannot decide whether to embrace them as a green form of transportation, or ban them as a safety hazard. Some cities are studying the halfway measure of banning them from bicycle lanes while permitting them on streets."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Electric Bicycles Surging In Popularity

Comments Filter:
  • Ah, yes, the transportation planner, one of the modern evils, who uses dubious logic to impose brain-dead transportation priorities that do wonders to destroy the planet...
    • by siloko (1133863) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @12:51AM (#30991666)
      I'm sure electric bikes have a use but I always feel a bit sad when I see a twenty-something dude riding an electric bike whilst I scoot past on my pushbike. O and transportation planners - don't get me started! In my town to satisfy a push for more cycle paths they simply painted a picture of a white cycle at the head of all the sidewalks . . . chaos and injury ensued. No back tracking though - just some back-slapping about implementing a 'green' transportation policy!
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @12:57AM (#30991694)

        While some twenty-something dudes would otherwise be riding a normal bicycle, most would be driving a car. If it takes electric bicycles to kill the idea that cycling is a sport instead of an efficient form of transportation, so be it.

        • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:20AM (#30994082) Homepage

          There are other problems. Pedaling 20 miles to work = working with really stinky people. Most offices and even shops do not have showers. Also changing from a motorcycle or car to a bike typically triples the commute time (except for places like new york where you sit in your car for 6 hours to go 1 block) as you cant maintain an average speed of 35 miles per hour on a bike unless you are an athlete. So instead of leaving for work 20 minutes before I need to be there, I need to leave 1.5 hours early so I can bike there for 1 hour and spend 1/2 hour showering and dressing for work.

          THAT is the problem that biking to work faces. and looking at ALL my coworkers, maybe 3 of them can survive a 10 mile bike ride. the rest would be dead on the side of the road barely able to breathe after 3 miles. Silly part is, the 3 that can survive all are 40 somethings the 20 somethings are all horribly out of shape drinking their latte' with extra whipped cream.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ianezz (31449)

            There are other problems. Pedaling 20 miles to work = working with really stinky people

            Where I live (northern Italy), we are trying to solve this problem with local trains carrying people and their bikes, and with bicycle parking racks near stations. This way, most part of the travel can be done on public transport, and the last 2-3 miles can be done on bikes. It is less clumsy than it sounds.

          • Your assertion might be right if you don't live in a major city. I live in Mexico City, which is a huge monster by all standards. The most efficient transportation medium here is by bike, unless you are lucky enough to ride on the major high-speed urban roads on your way to work, and both live and work quite close to their entry/exit points.

            I am by no means an athlete. My average cycling speed is between 20 and 25 Km/h. The city is mostly flat, and whenever I can, I bike to my destination on a ~20Km radius

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MichaelSmith (789609)

        I wonder about how safe they are. My heart rate scales with the speed I travel and my reflexes tend to scale the same way. Sometimes I get scared riding with a strong tail wind because I feel that I am going faster than my body is setup to do.

        The other thing is that sometimes I need to go slow, and sometime I need to go very fast. A power limited electric motor can't do the latter and would make me feel vulnerable in traffic.

        • by brianosaurus (48471) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:56AM (#30991988) Homepage

          I have a "hybrid" electric bike. It has an electric motor in the hub, and regular pedals for the human powerplant. The motor works best as an assist, particularly nice on steep hills. I mainly use the electric motor to get up to speed, then can pedal to maintain. Using both at the same time gives a good quick launch from a standstill. The electric motor on mine tops out at about 15mph, which is decent. I can go faster on a normal bike, but I break a sweat. :)

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by hack slash (1064002)

            The electric motor on mine tops out at about 15mph,

            The throttle control on my 3 year old Urban Mover UM36 is now derestricted, normally the throttle maxes out at 10mph and the pedal sensor maxes out at 15mph, but now the throttle can get me to 20mph along the flat without pedalling (and no panniers), faster if I pedal whilst the throttle is on maximum.
            Sure it's illegal here in the UK but it's so much fun and journeys are shorter than before, took a short while to get used to the increased speed but I'm still safe with it, I make sure I don't ride dangerous

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        And here in central florida they put it on the road which resulted in an even greater amount of chaos and injury.

        I've got a lot of foreign friends, the one thing they have in common is that they consider us delusional for believing that bicycles are not pedestrians.

        • In Australia they are also vehicles (not pedestrians). Of course, they do tend to obey the road rules 50% of the time, but then whisk up on to the footpaths at will.

          They are great for inner-city transportation, but I wouldn't like to ride along busy suburban main roads on one.

        • I've got a lot of foreign friends, the one thing they have in common is that they consider us delusional for believing that bicycles are not pedestrians.

          I'm not sure why this was modded flamebait. There's a point to be made here. I've lived in Downtown Portland and traveled a lot as both a pedestrian and a driver. I have to say this: I would MUCH rather dodge bicycles on the sidewalk than hit one with my car. It's not that cyclists are stupid, it's that they are so overwhelmingly out-classed that any collision is frightening. I'd rather have the fear of colliding with a cyclist while crossing a street than living with the guilt of accidentally paraly

  • Doesn't quite work when it's "like a Vespa" ;-)

    I have a mental image of Howard from "Big Bang Theory" on his scooter, with Sheldon in a pink Helmet screaming and clinging on for dear life.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @12:46AM (#30991632) Homepage

    Two of the many reasons this may not catch on in the US:

    One is drivers. I ride a (nonmotorized) bike to work twice a week. It would sure be nice if drivers here in the US showed that they had some clue that cyclists exist. This morning I got to deal with a woman who decided to pull her car over into the bike lane so that she could talk on her cell phone. On the way home, I got a teenage girl eating a banana while wanting to turn left in front of me without signaling. Other fun experiences include people swerving around me and cutting me off because they're too impatient to let me get across an intersection, and people yelling at me because I'm not in the bike lane (hey, sometimes cyclists do need to turn left, and in any case the law says that cyclists can ride in regular lanes).

    Another reason is weather. US weather has more extremes than Europe. There's a reason that all the early colonists from England died of tropical diseases.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by YojimboJango (978350)

      I'll second Parent here. I have a two and a half mile ride to work, but I'd have to cross two interstates and a 6 lane highway to get there. I can do it in the summer, but trying to get a bike through 6 inches of snow in the dark mornings while dodging traffic isn't fun or safe.

      Down south this might be more viable as a car replacement, but up in Michigan I need a car 4 months out of the year. It sucks, and I end up paying more for PLPD than I do for gas, but it has to be done.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe if you cyclists would quit dragging ass in a 45 zone with no shoulder. I know you top out a lot higher than 25.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      American weather isn't that bad. Note that two of the biggest bike cities in the world are Copenhagen and Amsterdam, neither noted for its pleasant conditions.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Both Copenhagen and Amsterdam benefit from the Gulf Stream. Although Copenhagen is at a similar latitude as Edmonton, Canada, the climate is nowhere near as cold. For another example, compare the climate of Copenhagen [wikipedia.org] and the climate of North Dakota [wikipedia.org], which is at similar latitudes as France.

    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:02AM (#30991724)
      I'm a careful driver but many cyclists I come across make it hard not to run over them, what with driving through every gap between cars they can fit into regardless of the lanes, going through a car or a pedestrian green light, whichever comes first, and acting like jerks every time a car fails to signal or otherwise violates some traffic rule while they themselves almost completely ignore every single one of them.

      Oh, I'm sure you are not one of those, but since you are generalizing I thought I'd join in.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:18AM (#30991804)

        Where I live, 95% of all drivers are very good regarding cyclists. There is 4.9% that are idiots. And then there is the 0.1% that are out there to kill/maim/etc. a cyclist for using a road. You know, on purpose. These people should be jailed for a long time.

        Traffic laws needs to change in the US and Canada. In more friendly jurisdictions a car/bike collision automatically means that the car driver is at fault unless it can be proven otherwise. And if you think about it, that really makes sense. Anytime a cyclist or a motorcycle rider gets hit by a car, they are the ones that lose. Therefore, it is generally the inattentiveness and downright criminal actions of the driver that results in a crash.

        Netherlands has a much larger bicycle population than anywhere in US/Canada, yet per capita collision rates are much lower. The reason is precisely laws that favour cyclists, not cages.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          No, the reason is because pretty much everyone else in the world has the sense to realise that bicyclists are pedestrians. They don't belong in the road any more than joggers or skateboarders.

          I was just in Helsinki last august, they just doubled the size of the sidewalk and allowed the section nearest the road for bicycles pretty much everywhere and where they don't they just treat a bicyclist that hits a walker the same as a car that hits a pedestrian.

          • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:48AM (#30991948)

            No, the reason is because pretty much everyone else in the world has the sense to realise that bicyclists are pedestrians. They don't belong in the road any more than joggers or skateboarders.

            I suggest you look again at Copenhagen.

            Regardless -- the numbers show that vehicular cycling [wikipedia.org] is safe -- and that in the US, riding on the sidewalk dramatically increases the chances of a car/bicycle collision (as drivers don't look for fast-moving vehicles on the sidewalk when pulling in and out of driveways). The League of American Bicyclists [bikeleague.org] tracks statistics and offers classes [bikeleague.org] (which leverage these statistics) on driving one's bicycle in a predictable, courteous, and safe manner; the accident rate for League members is on the same order of magnitude of that of motor vehicles when measured per mile traveled, but far lower when measured by other criteria.

            Regardless, while the accident rate per mile is somewhat higher, the accident rate per hour spent traveling is dramatically lower for cyclists. This is critical, as the curve for peoples' commute time tends to be fairly constant regardless of vehicle -- people who use a faster mode of transport arrange their lives such that they live closer to work. As such, for a person who makes their decision to use a bicycle as a long-term lifestyle choice (and is thus eventually able to take such into account when selecting either their employer or their living space), the chance of being harmed during one's commute is actually much lower.

            You might find Ken Kifer's analysis [kenkifer.com] useful; the statistical arguments made are compelling. (Ken passed away some time ago, killed by a drunk driver; for anyone interested in making a point of this, I suggest comparing the frequency of this event to the rate of 3rd-party deaths caused by drunk cyclists).

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sznupi (719324)

            As another poster mentioned, Helsinki isn't that great...

            But most importantly, you are misguided in proposing that the space for bicycles should be taken out of space for pedestrians. Bicycle in a city can have comparable speed to a car, if not forced into pedestrian sidewalk, so it has no place there.

            The solution is much simpler - don't let cars eat your cities, dividing them into inaccessible islands on the premise that cars should be priviledged when it comes to trying, and failing most out of all altern

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by wiredlogic (135348)

            pretty much everyone else in the world has the sense to realise that bicyclists are pedestrians. They don't belong in the road any more than joggers or skateboarders.

            I don't suppose you've ever ridden down a sidewalk at 30mph? How about trying to avoid getting hit by cars pulling in and out of driveways while riding down a sidewalk at 30mph? Nobody expects fast moving vehicles on a sidewalk and they are a hazard to any cyclist capable of maintaining high speed. The widespread development of smooth paved roads was initially done at the behest of cyclists 100+ years ago who wanted a better surface to ride on than dirt or gravel. Now all of a sudden the automobile comes al

        • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:45AM (#30992198) Journal

          n more friendly jurisdictions a car/bike collision automatically means that the car driver is at fault unless it can be proven otherwise. And if you think about it, that really makes sense.

          No, it really doesn't. We need sane laws for everyone, not preferential ones for cyclists.

          Anytime a cyclist or a motorcycle rider gets hit by a car, they are the ones that lose. Therefore, it is generally the inattentiveness and downright criminal actions of the driver that results in a crash.

          Faulty logic. People do stuff that they know (or should know) will hurt them all the time. They do it a lot when driving cars, anyway, why should bicycles be any different?

          I've seen way too many cyclists weaving through traffic lanes when it's clearly unsafe to do so (e.g. right after red turned green, and cars are starting to move), ignoring stop signs, and ignoring bicycle lanes when they don't need to turn left.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Brett Buck (811747)

          In more friendly jurisdictions a car/bike collision automatically means that the car driver is at fault unless it can be proven otherwise. And if you think about it, that really makes sense.

                    So you punish people based on no evidence? Interesting law.

                    Brett

      • As a bicyclist (and driver. Remember that- most of us who ride our bikes ALSO DRIVE), I find it very difficult to sympathize with your viewpoint.

        When is the last time you read, "motorist killed by bicyclist"? Bicyclists always lose in car-vs-bicyclist.

        Now, look at the face of cyclist road deaths: Kylie Bruehler, orphaned when both her parents were struck by a truck [austin360.com]. Go on, LOOK [mysanantonio.com], Mr. Self Righteous. Look at the face of a 7 year old girl as she buries her parents. Look at her grandfather walk down th

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by causality (777677)

          As a bicyclist (and driver. Remember that- most of us who ride our bikes ALSO DRIVE), I find it very difficult to sympathize with your viewpoint.

          When is the last time you read, "motorist killed by bicyclist"? Bicyclists always lose in car-vs-bicyclist.

          Now, look at the face of cyclist road deaths: Kylie Bruehler, orphaned when both her parents were struck by a truck [austin360.com]. Go on, LOOK [mysanantonio.com], Mr. Self Righteous. Look at the face of a 7 year old girl as she buries her parents. Look at her grandfather walk down the line of hundreds of cyclists who showed up to honor them.

          Do you know what usually happens when a motorist kills a cyclist? Absolutely nothing [bicyclelaw.com]- and this case is not the exception but the rule. Time and time again the cyclist community fumes when another person is struck simply because the driver wasn't paying attention to where they were going, the police call it a "terrible accident", and the driver walks off without so much as a manslaughter charge.

          I'm glad you used sound reasoning and solid argumentation and did not resort to baser things like guilt-trips and emotional appeals. Well done, sir.

          • I did, didn't I? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by SuperBanana (662181)

            I'm glad you used sound reasoning and solid argumentation and did not resort to baser things like guilt-trips and emotional appeals. Well done, sir.

            Sure, because the parent I replied to had sound reasoning and solid argumentation when he said that most cyclists on the road are lawless jerks- and implied that they deserve what they get, or that drivers shouldn't be responsible for hitting them. Also, I think it's pretty logical and good reasoning to say, "When is the last time you read, 'motorist killed

            • by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@nospaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:07AM (#30992034)

              When is the last time you read, 'motorist killed by cyclist'

              When was the last time you read "Freight train killed my motorist"?

              We all know that cars are bigger than bikes, but that doesn't mean that bikers are freed of responsibility in all cases.

              If reading that story and looking at that picture of that orphan makes a couple of Slashdotters a liiiiitle bit more careful driving (around cyclists or not), then it was worth every mod point.

              The thing is, guilt-tripping people like that doesn't actually work. If it did, PETA would have long since prevaled I wouldn't still be eating 5 pounds of cow every week. All stunts like that do is undermine your credibility by indicating to people that you are not willing to have a rational discussion, but instead need to resort to emotional arguments.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Blain (264390)

                Except that he never said that bikers should be freed of responsibility in all cases. Nobody has. The closest anybody has come to that is to say that the default should be that the driver should be seen as at-fault unless there is evidence that the biker was as a way of correcting for the disproportionality of risk to the biker v the driver. It's an arguable point, but you're not arguing with it when you misrepresent what was claimed.

                Similarly, providing people with information about the realities of car

            • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:58AM (#30992254) Homepage Journal

              I'm amazed you find time to ride a bicycle what with all the time you seem to spend on your high horse.

        • by thesupraman (179040) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:54AM (#30991976)

          I ride a motorbike (and at times a pushbike) on the road, and have learned one thing very well.

          It is the job of the more at-risk to protect themselves!

          Anything else is just a stupid unrealistic dream.

          Reality is that I must avoid cars pulling in front of me, cutting me off, and at times trying to drive through me when I am stationary. This is life.
          Every day (I commute through an area of main road loved by cyclists) I see them 'downhilling' down a lethal bit of road - not to commut but for fun, and high speed (often above the speed limit), taking wide corners, and without the ability to quickly stop. I have seen several very serious accidents there, however I have never seen a car-on-car accident there as it is a safe bit of road, the usual accident is a bike into the back of a car, or once into the front when taking a corner WAY too wide.

          The road is not a playground, it is there for transportation, and it is dangerous. Many drivers are borderline incompetent, so you must weight up the risks, and make some serious decisions.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mdarksbane (587589)

            Honestly, I feel the same way driving a coupe. If an SUV or a tractor trailer decides to pull into my lane without checking their blind spot, I'm toast. I've ended up literally with parts of a semi trailer *over* the front of my car before.

            The best way to view this is that there is always someone else on the road who is going to do something stupid, and even if one of you end up worse for the encounter... it's still a really bad situation to be in knowing that you killed someone's mom through your negligenc

        • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

          You seem to be a rather bitter when it comes to this subject so I'll help you out a bit: namecalling and trying to guilt-trip someone who very likely never did anything wrong is not going to win you over any minds. Try keeping a cool head and making reasoned arguments next time.

          As a pedestrain (I neither drive, nor bike to work), I could start ranting about how many people bikers run over and hurt/kill while they were minding their own business crossing the streets at crosswalks or walking down the sidewa

        • What do you want to happen? Apparently, the civil lawsuit isn't finished yet. The driver wasn't drunk (he was tested right away). He stopped. And he didn't know the victims. Do you want to put the driver in prison for the next ten years? What else are you suggesting?

          He should definitely pay for what he did, but in the form of financial restitution. Personally, I'm sorry this happened, but as long as this isn't a pattern -- I'd rather not have my tax dollars be used in locking this guy up for years.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bflong (107195)

          I'm not familiar with the sad situation you relate, but I do not believe it has anything to do with the parent comment. Also, I have noticed that at least half of the bicyclists in my area do not obey traffic laws in any form, and the rest obey them sporadically. They don't stay on their side of the road. They don't signal. They don't maintain safe distances. They cut traffic off. The list goes on. Many of the offenders are "professional" riders too. They compete at the local velodrome. They have friken spo

      • by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:30AM (#30991876) Homepage

        going through a car or a pedestrian green light, whichever comes first

        This is perfectly legal, although of course the cyclist may want to make his intentions clear to avoid getting hit.

        and acting like jerks every time a car fails to signal or otherwise violates some traffic rule while they themselves almost completely ignore every single one of them.

        The problem is that when drivers ignore the traffic laws around cyclists, it's a threat to the cyclist's life. People tend to get testy when other people are acting like they want to kill them.

        • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:48AM (#30992208) Journal

          The problem is that when drivers ignore the traffic laws around cyclists, it's a threat to the cyclist's life.

          The problem is that when cyclists ignore traffic laws around cars, it's also a threat to cyclist's life.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          going through a car or a pedestrian green light, whichever comes first

          This is perfectly legal, although of course the cyclist may want to make his intentions clear to avoid getting hit.

          Not in California: In California, a bicyclist walking their bike is a pedestrian, and a bicyclist on their bike is a vehicle. A vehicle must operate in the lane, e.g. not in the crosswalk. You must dismount from the bicycle, therefore, if you wish to use that crosswalk. You may also not ride on the sidewalk unless permitted by local regulations, but you still can't then ride across the street in the crosswalk, because that's a moving violation and you're subject to the same laws as the cars, motorcycles, an

      • by Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:53AM (#30991970) Homepage
        My favorite kind of bicyclist are the ones who think stop signs don't apply to them. Yes, I'm talking to you Mr Lance Armstrong wannabe in your yellow jersey. The red octagon you shot past read stop and that meant you as well.
        • by a whoabot (706122) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:21AM (#30992096)

          Okay, I bike everyday, in Canada. Whether snow, ice, or -40 Celsius. I hate this just as much as you. Because I stop, and I follow all the laws to the best of my ability -- little useless bell (voice is much louder) on my handlebars and all. Here's one I also follow: the speed-limit. However, pretty much every automobile driver I meet does not follow the speed limit. So, it's not like motorists are somehow more law-abiding than cyclists -- because almost 100% of motorists break the speed limit. There's this one road I go down -- 30kph speed limit, and yet every car behind me always seems to catch up and pass me rather quickly when I'm going along at 30kph. In fact, I would say that most are going 50kph. That's more than 66% over the speed limit. Is every motorist continuously late for work or something? And in 50kph zones, it seems that 70kph or greater is the norm amongst motorists. On the highway you would be as lucky as a lottery-winner to see someone cruising not more than 90kph, the speed limit.

          And cars seem to have trouble with stop-signs as well. They slow-down for them, but as for a complete stop -- that's a rarity. They seem to like to just crawl through them at 1 to upward of 5 kph.

          Really the only group of motorists with which I'm continually impressed are the school-bus drivers.

          But I've been semi-facetious so far. This is how it actually is: The motorist thinks on the highway: "Well, this highway is still safe at 100kph. It's only 10kph over the speed limit and visibility and conditions are fine. So even though it is breaking law, I'll do it." If he actually thought that he would get into an accident, he wouldn't do it. This is what the cyclist is thinking at the stop-sign: "No one else is coming, so, if I just go through, it will be fine. So even though it is breaking the law, I'll do it." If he actually thought that he would get into an accident, he wouldn't do it.
           

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by trawg (308495)

            There's this one road I go down -- 30kph speed limit, and yet every car behind me always seems to catch up and pass me rather quickly when I'm going along at 30kph. In fact, I would say that most are going 50kph. That's more than 66% over the speed limit.

            My brother is a cycler and comes home regularly with tales that make me cringe for his safety.

            I've often wondered if he had an LED display on the back of his bike that showed how fast he was riding, if cars would be more prone to backing off. He is like you sound - regularly doing the speed limit - and is overtaken a lot, I assume because people think "well, bikes are slow, so I can drive faster".

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Another reason is laws. Here in New York electric bikes are illegal - http://www.nydmv.state.ny.us/dmvfaqs.htm#motor

    • by jchernia (590097) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:13AM (#30991780)

      I think you'll be surprised and that it will.

      I upgrated my old steel hardtail mountain bike into an ebike becuase I have a ~400 vertical foot climb from the train station to work.

      I bought the Phoenix motor kit by Crystalyte (http://www.electricrider.com/crystalyte/phoenix.htm) and swapped out the acid batteries for a Lithium Ferrous Polymer at a very reasonable price (thank you Lau Chen of Hong Kong).

      The result is a bike with almost 2000 watts max power (48V x 40A = 1920W) with 10Ahr of total juice. The practical range is about 10 miles at a speed of 30 MPH (I have a motor wound for slightly more torque).

      My time up the hill basically beats driving (surface streets, not freeway). An interesting thing happens when you go as fast as cars - they see you better, you can get out of the way better and you take fewer stupid risks. For example, you are less likely to run a stop sign if you can re-accelerate easily. Also, if you're not pedaling hard you have more energy to focus on what's around you. It becomes more like riding a motorcycle.

      I love my e-bike - once people see
      1) How versatile they are (go anywhere a car can go and slightly more)
      2) How cheap they are (fuel cost approaches zero even charging at home)
      3) How normal you look on them (it's just a bike)
      and most importantly
      4) How lazy you can be on them (you don't sweat at all)

      You will see much better adoption in the short range commute, even in the US.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by collywally (1223456)

        I did the same thing with my bike. At first I would pedal my bike to work and back every day but I would always be working late and after a 14 hour day at work I would then have to pedal, mostly up hill, to get home. Then I would have to wait about 2 hours or so until my body would relax enough to get to sleep. I eventually got sick of this and decided to buy a kit for my bike. 750W motor and a 48v 20Ahr LiPo battery pack does the trick. I get about 40kms and I can go about 55kph without the speed limi

    • by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:13AM (#30991782) Homepage

      You have bike lanes where you live? Lucky.

      When I can, I ride a bicycle as a form of transportation. Even though it helps me stay healthy, saves gas, pollutes less, and takes less parking space, I don't expect a medal for it. But it would be nice if I didn't have to face the dangerous neglect and even outright hostility of American motorists for it.

      I can see electric bicycles catching on in the US... for recreation. Instead of replacing automobiles with electric mopeds, we'll replace bicycles with electric mopeds, and take them on joy rides in the country on weekends (transporting them there in the SUV). We won't burn any less gas, but we'll use more electricity, and exercise less.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cduffy (652)

        I can see electric bicycles catching on in the US... for recreation. Instead of replacing automobiles with electric mopeds, we'll replace bicycles with electric mopeds, and take them on joy rides in the country on weekends (transporting them there in the SUV). We won't burn any less gas, but we'll use more electricity, and exercise less.

        I don't see that at all.

        • The recreational cycling community is well-established, and they clearly see e-bikes as "cheating"; that's not going to change. ("I'm not cheating,
    • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:30AM (#30991880)

      Those kinds of motorists are actually why you want e-bikes to catch on.

      Statistics show a 30% increase in safety of each individual cyclist whenever the population of cyclists doubles; much of this is presumably related to folks in other vehicles learning to expect bikes on the road (though there certainly may be other factors -- such as cyclists being taken into account in roadway design -- involved as well). Something that gets more people off of four wheels and onto two is thus in all of our best interests. (For this reason also, mandatory helmet laws actually decrease cyclists' safety by discouraging cycling; while any individual cyclist is safer if they experience a head injury with a helmet than without, laws making helmets mandatory reduce the population of cyclists and thereby result in an increase in the number of head injuries suffered; even the practice of strongly encouraging helmet use may be counterproductive, as the perception that cycling is dangerous is also a deterrent to having more cyclists on the road. Nobody wears helmets cycling in downtown Copenhagen, and they seem to be doing just fine).

      As for the weather argument, I don't buy it. First -- why would this apply only to electric bikes and not to conventional ones? Second -- I ride an electric bike, and live in Texas (which tends towards the high-temperature side of the extremes you speak of). The manufacturer, like many of their early customers, is in Colorado (which tends towards the cold side of things); lots of folks in California as well, and many customers overseas. The only fellow on the mailing list who's had problems with his bike linked to the weather? Northern England[1]. Yes, the Colorado folks have to put on spiked tires for navigating ice some of the time (and the company's marketing guy got himself a conversion with skis on the front and a tread on the back of his bike [ktrakcycle.com] for Christmas), but we have folks who commute in the snow [youtube.com]. Sure, that's a pretty extreme commute -- how would you rather start your day, with a drive or an adventure? :)

      [1] - Apparently a small amount of water managed to get through multiple layers of seals and into the motor. We all ride in the rain, but he deals with some truly torrential downpours on an extremely regular basis. In any event, changes were made to address the issue, and no like problems have been reported since.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RoFLKOPTr (1294290)

      One is drivers. I ride a (nonmotorized) bike to work twice a week. It would sure be nice if drivers here in the US showed that they had some clue that cyclists exist, etc.

      It would also be awesome if cyclists would show that they aren't oblivious to drivers. "Share The Road" goes both ways, bro.

      • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:07AM (#30992032)

        It would also be awesome if cyclists would show that they aren't oblivious to drivers.

        Along those lines, you might find the "vehicular cycling" school of technique worth promoting; it teaches consistency and communication in how one drives one's bicycle (not just through hand signals and the like, but also things like positioning within one's lane to indicate future intent); classes are offered throughout the US by the League of American Bicyclists.

        It would also be awesome if people acknowledged that there's more than one subgroup of cyclists, and that some of them treat the roads differently than others.

    • by AbRASiON (589899) *

      As a cyclist (and a driver) I think there's one fine which should be handed out FAR FAR FAR more often.
      It's called "failed to indicate" hooo boy is it a doozy.

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @12:48AM (#30991642) Homepage

    As someone who spends a week each year in Shanghai, this is nothing special. These bikes are nasty rusty things. Often found in shades of silver and brown with broken seats and bent baskets. The owners don't understand the concept of pride in their own possessions. I find this behavior quite foreign to me, but I suppose that's because I'm an American. In short, leave-it-out-to-rust is the Chinese motto.

    Oh, and for all you living in Shanghai, could you PLEASE for the love of God, change your moped brake pads? That high pitched squealing makes my ears ring :-p.

    • by magarity (164372) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @12:58AM (#30991698)

      The owners don't understand the concept of pride in their own possessions
       
      I spent the past year in Beijing and can tell you it is not because of lack of pride in their possessions. It's a case of Chinese common sense: everyone knows the omnipresent theives want to steal shiny new ones, so the owner who wants to keep his has a ratty looking one.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        It's not just Chinese common sense. I used to work in Hollywood, which is actually kind of a dodgy place. I used to keep my truck unwashed and leave McDonalds bags all over to make it as unattractive as possible. In fact, I occasionally had to leave my pro camera in my car so I would stuff it inside a crumpled fast food bag and leave it lying on the floor.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:07AM (#30991746)

      I've seen that in other countries. Amsterdam has a lot of bicycles which look like they are about to disintegrate into component atoms due to the rust damage any minute.

      The reason for this is that here in the US, bikes are somewhat a style thing. If you are doing road, you have to have the $7000 carbon fiber frame [1] with Dura-Ace or Super Record, or you will be viewed as an amateur. Similar with a mountain biker coming up to a Cat 1 with anything but XTR or X.0 will be viewed as a hack and told to replace their Huffy with something racable. If you are touring, you must have the latest custom made Vanilla bike, or you will be viewed as someone who got a DWI. Even the hipsters "require" a fairly high-zoot frame for their fixies. A lot of Americans view something like the stereotypical Flying Pigeon from China as a joke.

      [1]: Of course, we all know how fragile CF is... if you don't have a torque wrench and crank a tad too much adjusting your seatpost, expect the thing to break and have a jagged spear pointed right at your bum. However, since CF is light and cool looking, it is the style now... even though a CF bike frame has to be thrown in the trash if it gets even the slightest gouge or crack.

      • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @04:45AM (#30992660) Homepage
        This, sir, is the difference between people who ride bicycles as a lifestyle, and people who ride bicycles as transportation. The "lifestyle" segment is very loud and vocal, and indeed does look down on the "transportation" segment. Heck, looking down on others is half the reason they make themselves highly visible in public - what other group in society would be able to get away with wearing brightly colored tight-fitting spandex? "It's not ME that demands I wear this ridiculous clothing, but I absolutely must be aerodynamic because I'm Lance Armstrong...oh and by the way I have to wear bright, tropical bird-like colors that would be totally unacceptable in any other social situation."

        Contrast this to me, who just rides a bike in whatever street clothes he happens to be wearing that day.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Kozz (7764)

          I work for a large international bicycle company. We've got an in-house team that designs cycling apparel. And I've always been put off looking at our online catalog, wondering why I have to look like a billboard on wheels. The truth is that I don't like all the high-graphic jerseys at all. However, if you are a distance commuter or otherwise undertaking a longer ride, it makes sense to get some of the right kind of clothing (frequently lycra, yes) to wick away sweat and also for freedom of motion &

  • Halfway? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JakartaDean (834076)

    Some cities are studying the halfway measure of banning them from bicycle lanes while permitting them on streets.

    Considering them like a motor vehicle is halfway between what and what? It's like people try to copy the the most witless bit of prose from the entire article.

  • Americans Pay More (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hedgemage (934558) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @12:56AM (#30991680)
    I know a guy who, after a trip to China a couple years ago, decided to start up an electric bike business in Portland, Oregon which is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US. He originally wanted to import the bikes from China, but due to trade restrictions, he couldn't bring in bikes which he could sell here for $US400-600 and instead had to fill his new shop with US and European models that cost 3 to 5 times more.
    He did his research, so it wasn't like the Chinese bikes were painted with lead and made by slave labor or anything. Anyone have any idea why electric bikes would be on the import no-no list?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Probably the lead batteries.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mirix (1649853)
        I doubt that, as there's nothing like RoHS in North America, and every car has lead acid batteries, regardless.
        There are plenty of sealed lead acid batteries around (old people scooters for example, a similar device...).
    • I'm not 100% sure, but I'd bet this is retaliation for the Chinese Steel subsidies/trade practices. I believe American and European manufacturers are not allowed to buy steel in China or in Chinese-controlled markets. In other words, the price Chinese bicycle manufacturers are paying for steel is artificially low and could be considered by some as an unfair manufacturing advantage.

      That being said, this is just speculation on my part. The Steel thing is real. Many industries that rely on steel in the US are

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:07AM (#30991748)

    Some cities are studying the halfway measure of banning them from bicycle lanes while permitting them on streets

    It's simple, really. Bicycle lanes exist to protect bicycles which travel slower than the rest of traffic. If you're assisted by an electric motor, there is less of a speed differential with traffic, but now you'll be a hazard to all the bicyclists yourself, since you'll be traveling much faster than them.

    I can't wait for the first dooring of a moped rider in a bike lane- maybe drivers will start to take "look in your mirror before you fling open your door" seriously because it'll be in their best interests, both in terms of personal safety and damage to their car; a couple hundred pounds of metal and rider will at the very least bend that door pretty far forward, I'm guessing.

    As someone who has been doored, it REALLY sucks getting doored because some stupid asshole can't take 2 seconds to look in their mirror before they open their door. The worst part isn't flying over your handlebars, or getting your hand permanently fucked up from getting pinched between the handlebar and edge of the car door at +10MPH with 150lb of momentum. The worst part is hitting the door and having that throw you right into the traffic lane and get hit/run over by a car, truck, or bus. It's not the door itself that kills bicyclists- it's getting hit/run over by the traffic that was just behind them. Yet another reason why bicycle lanes in the US, which are sandwiched between parked cars and traffic, are almost worse than nothing at all. In Europe and elsewhere, bike lanes are completely separated and often run nowhere near the road- they're a separate network.

    Also, there is a special place in hell for all the hipster retards riding their 70's-era mopeds (Puchs seem to be the most popular.) In our part of town, there's at least a couple of them zipping around in their tight black jeans and flannel shirts, leaving a contrail of blue smoke which is so bad to ride behind and breathe, one has to pull over and wait a minute or two for it to dissipate. They're putting out 50 times the pollution of the SUV next to them, just to save money on gas and look cool.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thesupraman (179040)

      There are many cyclists who are capable of traveling at or above the urban speed limits, and around here do.
      Should they be banned from the bike lanes? what exactly is the bike lane speed limit?

      I would love to see what would happen if someone did try and enforce a nice and slow and safe limit on them, i bet a rather vocal group of riders would go nuts.

      Also, to address your other BS.

      Have you looked in the rear vision mirror of a parked car when bikes are coming past? they are VERY hard to spot, especially whe

  • Hey, bicycle, electric bike, and moped owner here. And I don't mean scooters like your Honda Spree and Vespa PX. I mean moped. Your Puch Maxi, your Vespa Ciao, your Tomos LX. It's so interesting watching the moped revolution of the late 1970s in the US come alive again in even fuller force in China and other Asian countries today. We Americans could save a mighty lot of gas if a lot of us switched to two-wheeled transport; and I get the feeling that at some point it might have to happen yet again.
  • Energy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BlackHawk-666 (560896) <ivan.hawkes@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:20AM (#30991820) Homepage

    In an age when most of us could do with more exercise, not less, and could reduce energy usage not increase it - these seem like a bad idea. It will be interesting to see if the percentage of people who are obese in either of these countries increase in parallel with the switch to electric bikes.

    I've been to Amsterdam, spent a few weeks there, and you'd be amazed at how few people are fat in that city - a lot of which can be contributed to the fact the ride everywhere. Compare that to the US, Britain, and even Australia - and it's quite the difference. America of course wins the prize - so if anything you guys need more incentive to ride pushbikes, not less.

    • Re:Energy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rsborg (111459) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:27AM (#30991860) Homepage

      In an age when most of us could do with more exercise, not less, and could reduce energy usage not increase it - these seem like a bad idea.

      If you had actually read the article, you'll notice that most of the "electric" bikes here in the US are actually pedal/motor hybrids, which turn off and on at will.

      For my 5-mile commute into work, I'd love to ride every day, but I can't afford to be arrive sweaty and take a shower there daily (in warmer months I try to go 2-3x a week)... now, if I could use a hybrid and cut down the effort so I only got a light glaze of sweat, I'd try to bike much more often... if I don't bike, I pretty much have to drive as I live in suburbia.

  • in japan... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by biggknifeparty (618904) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:21AM (#30991824)
    Almost every Japanese senior citizen rides one of these... surprisingly fast. They're expensive too there, like $700 dollars. Also, they don't lock them up because generally in Japan people don't steal things.
  • by mykos (1627575) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:21AM (#30991830)

    I like this news very much.

    Although I'm not a huge fan of bicycle riding myself, it's good to see people able to find inexpensive and efficient transportation. It won't work where I live (not urbanized enough), but it's an excellent solution for big cities, which is where most of the fossil fuels get burned anyway.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:45AM (#30991942) Homepage

    Trying to fit these things into traffic in a crowded area is tough. New York State classifies such vehicles as follows:

    • Motorized Scooters, Mini-Bikes, Dirt Bikes, Go-Karts, Motor Assisted Bicycles - not allowed on streets or highways.
    • Limited Use Motorcycle, class C (20 MPH or less) - allowed in right hand lane or shoulder only. Insurance not required, inspection not required, motorcycle driver license not required, helmet not required.
    • Limited Use Motorcycle, class B. (20MPH to 30 MPH) - allowed in right hand lane or shoulder only. Insurance required, inspection not required, motorcycle driver license not required. helmet required.
    • Limited Use Motorcycle, class A. (30MPH to 40 MPH) - allowed in any traffic lane. Insurance required, inspection required, motorcycle driver license required, helmet required.
    • Motorcycle. - allowed in any traffic lane and on freeways. Insurance required, inspection required, motorcycle driver license required, helmet required. Motorcycle Safety Foundation training recommended.

    So New York State makes a clear distinction between a bicycle and anything with power. (Segways are handled somewhat differently, but are limited to 12.5 MPH. New York City prohibits them on sidewalks.)

    Realistically, once you pass 20MPH, you have most of the risks of a motorcycle, and may as well get one.

  • by spooje (582773) <spooje.hotmail@com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:02AM (#30992016) Homepage

    I really don't see this catching on in the US.

    Here in Beijing lots of people (me included) ride electric bikes because it's too expensive to have a car and traffic jams are so bad it takes me 15 minutes to ride to the bank whereas it would take me about 1 hour to get there by car during rush hour traffic. Motorcycles aren't allowed in the center of the city so an electric bike is really convenient for getting around.

    Then there's the question of money. I bought my bike for 2,100RMB (about $300USD). This is a little under half a month's salary for the average Beijinger so these things are very affordable especially compared to cars and motorcycles. I supect this is one of the reasons electric bikes are getting popular in places with a lot of poverty like India.

    Then there's lifestyle. Here there's no Costco so I'm not hauling bags and bags of groceries at one time. Also I live in the neighborhood where I work so my commute is only about 10 minutes. That's the perfect range for one of these bikes. If you had an hour commute like many people in the US, you'd never be able to take the bike since the average charge seems to get me through about 45ish minutes before I really need to recharge. That's with peddling to help out the battery.

    • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:17AM (#30992078)

      Then there's lifestyle. Here there's no Costco so I'm not hauling bags and bags of groceries at one time.

      I'm here in the US, there is a Costco, and I have no problem at all getting groceries home in the cargo trailer attached to my bike [cycletote.com]; a 100lb load is easy to tow in that trailer even on my unassisted bicycle.

      If you had an hour commute like many people in the US, you'd never be able to take the bike since the average charge seems to get me through about 45ish minutes before I really need to recharge. That's with peddling to help out the battery.

      Range is a matter of what kind of battery capacity (and motor efficiency) one is willing to pay for. My other (US-made electric) bike has a 2h30m runtime per battery (5 hours total if the external is attached) on economy (350W) mode, 50min per battery with no pedaling at full-power 850W. Yes, I paid the early-adopter tax -- but my legs run out of juice well before the bike does.

  • Two Sides (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lymond01 (314120) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @12:23PM (#30996766)

    At first I get sad thinking of younger folk using electric bikes. But there is a practical side and that is, as many have mentioned, replacing the car for commuting. If an electric bike can keep up a 15 MPH run (much faster and I wouldn't want it sharing bike paths with pedestrians and strollers), you could use it for the 5-20 mile commutes to work. I've been starting to realize just how completely absurd it is that we feel the need for 3000+ lbs of metal to cart us around. Even motorcycles are kind of ridiculous. But an electric bike that allows you to both pedal and ride...that's a decent idea.

    I've got a 20 mile commute which is easy by highway, but hilly and 25 miles on a bike. I'd consider it with an electric bike though. But I'd consider it on a normal bike if I could get a bike path the whole way instead of sharing/dodging cars on the road.

  • by cjmapman (1151923) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @03:46PM (#31000078)
    Indeed, although the conditions that have spurred popularity of ebikes in China are not the same as those poised to do so in the US. In China, the trend reflects rising incomes and the switch from regular bicyles to electric-assist bicycles (typically with heavy but inexpensive lead-acid batteries.) In the U.S., growth is likely to come (1) because lots of aging baby boomer knees could use a little help, and the number of aging baby boomers is exploding, (2) because the highest cost component is a good Lithium-chemistry battery, and investments in the electric car industry are pushing those costs down fast, (3) because of the Growth of Green, and (4) because they are just SO much fun. Interested? Please join us at http://electriccyclist.com/ [electriccyclist.com]
  • Ebiking for 9 months (Score:3, Informative)

    by mbaysek (995576) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:30AM (#31005706)

    I got on the road with my ebike in May of last year. I've got close to 3000 miles since then. I live in a city (Pittsburgh) with a lot of hills and my ride is 8.5 miles each way. I have to say that I get to work about 50% faster on average than driving my car. I also save over a thousand dollars a year on parking costs. My daily gas costs in my car were about $2.00. On the bike, it's less than $0.12 per day in electricity (including the half that I charge at work). I estimate the amortized costs of the battery to be about $0.50 per day, though I haven't had to replace my battery pack yet.

    Needless to say, I am extremely satisfied with the experience, and I recommend it to anyone who's not afraid to try it. A few things I'd like to point out.

    • As long I dress correctly, I can easily handle any weather, except snow/ice, including rain or temperatures down to about 20F. Sure, you get a bit wet in rain, but keep a change of clothes at the office in case you need them. Get a decent waterproof coat, shoes/boots.
    • With the proper lighting on your bike, you can make it very hard for people to miss you. You should have flashing head and tail lights. Aim your head light so it will be seen by drivers in their rear and side view mirrors. It will annoy some people, but it will make sure they see you.
    • If you ride at night, be sure to have enough headlighting to see safely at your target speed.
    • Always keep spare batteries for your lighting.
    • Merging with traffic is actually safer when you are moving at speeds closer to traffic. It gives drivers more time to see you and anticipate your movements.
    • Get a good horn that people will be able to hear inside their cars with the windows up.
    • Watch for car doors opening in front of you! And pot holes.
    • Sometimes people like to lay on their horn at you, or pretend to run you down or pass you aggressively. If that's how they get off, then get out of their way, since there's not much you can do about it.
    • Get puncture proof tires and Slime Super Thick inner tubes and you can run over broken glass and hit pot holes going 20 miles an hour without getting flats. I have ridden over 2000 miles since I did this, and still have not had a flat.
    • Carry a complete toolkit with you, including duct tape! You almost never need it but you won't regret carrying it when you do.

    Anyway, I thought I'd share my experience. Ebiking is absolutely a viable and economic means of transportation.

You've been Berkeley'ed!

Working...