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The pandemic has inspired more Chicagoans to buy e-bikes – Streetsblog Chicago

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The pandemic has impressed extra Chicagoans to purchase e-bikes – Streetsblog Chicago

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen a nationwide biking increase as individuals search socially-distanced methods to get round, get bodily exercise, and have enjoyable, and Chicago is not any exception. I’m undoubtedly seeing extra individuals biking on the North Aspect this summer season than I did final final yr. This summer season I joined the ranks of e-bike house owners after my non-electric bike was stolen. I used to be already keen on these bikes and turning into an proprietor has impressed a analysis binge. 

Unsurprisingly, e-bike gross sales have soared together with conventional bikes throughout COVID-19. Based on bike trade market evaluation, electrical bike gross sales had been up 84 % in March, 92 % in April, and 137 % in Could. Chicagoland bike outlets report they’re usually seeing a rise in gross sales, together with e-bikes, as a result of pandemic.

Eric Krzystofiak, common supervisor for Wheel & Sprocket in Evanston and Oak Park says he doesn’t anticipate the rise in e-bike gross sales to decelerate anytime quickly. “Our clients haven’t skilled any delays in getting the bike they need. As an increasing number of individuals discover out they’ll change a automotive and get a superb exercise with an e-bike, we anticipate the recognition to proceed to develop.”

Courtney Cobbs with her new electric cargo bike at 5 Star Family Cycling.
Courtney Cobbs together with her new electrical cargo bike at 4 Star Household Cyclery.

I checked in with new e-bike house owners to listen to about their experiences. Sarah Candy and her husband and son lives in Ravenswood. They had been contemplating shopping for an electrical automotive however discovered there weren’t plenty of inexpensive choices. Her husband discovered Four Star Family Cyclery and urged they check trip bikes. After renting a motorbike for a weekend and testing it out with their son, they had been bought.

Candy stated earlier than discovering e-bikes she by no means felt all that secure and comfy biking. “We had been getting sort of tired of walks and the bike simply opened up our world. We haven’t pushed our automotive within the 2 months we’ve had the e-bike.” After shopping for an e-bike, Candy is extra vocal about her want for protected bike lanes and safe bike parking at her office. She says individuals ask her questions on her bike every day. “Most individuals have an interest within the electrical half. ‘Is there a motor? Do you pedal? How do you park it? How typically do you cost it?’ I get plenty of curiosity on the farmer’s market. It’s enjoyable!” 

Christine Velez lives in Streeterville together with her husband and her two-year-old daughter. She bought her e-bike in response to unreliable transit entry as a result of Mayor Lori Lightfoots’s transit shutdowns throughout latest civil unrest, and hopes rides together with her daughter will present a brand new supply of sensory stimulation. With regards to storing her bike, she’s lucky sufficient to stay in a constructing with a devoted bike storage room on the bottom flooring, and it’s outfitted with monitored cameras. For Chicagoans with out entry to such facilities, the town would do effectively to create safer on-street parking on residential streets. I discussed this in my article, “How Can Chicago Support the e-bike Revolution?

Steven Quipse of Albany Park bought his VanMoof e-bike with stimulus funds in April. “The large enchantment for an e-bike was having the ability to go longer distances with out being tremendous sweaty,” he stated. “Having the ability to simply bike on a brilliant windy day was additionally a giant enchantment.” I requested Steven if he had any memorable rides in windy situations. He stated he was really out biking the day Chicago skilled tornadoes! “I did slide a bit bit however it wasn’t as dangerous in comparison with if I had been on an everyday bike.”  

Quispe mentioned among the responses to his bike. “The most typical response is individuals pondering it’s unlocked.” Quispe’s bike has a built-in kick lock. You activate the kick lock by aligning the wheel to a marked spot and kicking the lock in together with your toe. This freezes the rear wheel till the bike proprietor unlocks it with an app or a passcode. There are additionally GPS capabilities embedded within the bike which permit the proprietor to see the place it’s. Within the occasion the bike is stolen, VanMoof sends out of us to trace the bike down.

“I’ve had about 5 theft makes an attempt and some of my co-workers have assumed I’ve been absent-minded by not locking my bike up,” Quispe stated. shared a narrative of a involved citizen reporting his bike as deserted. Steven acquired an alert that his bike was being tampered with and located Chicago Police within the strategy of hauling it away. He was capable of present that he was the proprietor of the bike and police inspired him to lock it up.

Requested what modifications he’s seen in his biking expertise because of having the ability to go sooner. “I can now beat the Brown Line from my house to the Loop. Biking saves me about 10-Quarter-hour. I’m additionally occurring longer rides.” Analysis has proven e-bike riders ride longer distances than those riding a traditional bike.

Requested about interactions with drivers, Steven famous that drivers are usually not getting used to encountering somebody on a motorbike driving so quick,  which is one thing I can relate to. Now we have each had experiences with drivers making turns in entrance of us that pressured us to brake rapidly to keep away from a crash. I’ve had some motorists try to alter lanes and be shocked by my pace. 

My final interview was with Martha and Margaret, a pair who stay in Ravenswood together with their two kids. Margaret was in wanted a brand new bike as a result of a motorbike she was given at age 14 was able to be retired. The couple was additionally uncomfortable driving the CTA throughout the pandemic. In addition they love being exterior throughout the hotter months and felt biking might enhance their enjoyment of the outside.

Margaret's electric cargo bike in action! Carrying kiddos and cargo.
Margaret’s electrical cargo bike.

Martha and Margaret discover their electrical cargo bike to be an enchancment over transporting their kids by bike trailer. They will maintain a greater eye on their kids, since they’re not driving in an enclosed house, and so they not should yell as a way to talk.

Requested if there’s something the town might do to help e-bike house owners or biking on the whole, Margaret responded, “Oh my gosh! I’d love extra protected bike lanes throughout the town. I don’t like having to analysis my route earlier than going someplace. Numerous the bike lanes in our areas are on busy streets.”

Martha and Margaret praised the Leland Sluggish Avenue of their neighborhood, and the parking-protected bike lane on Broadway, and stated they wish to see extra of them. They did have some complaints about dockless e-scooters taking over house on the bike racks. “Persons are driving their bikes extra throughout the pandemic, so we want extra bike racks. The scooter corporations ought to should pay to [intall] extra bike racks if their merchandise are going to be utilizing the house.” 

The pandemic bike increase could have been an opportunity to upgrade bicycling facilities for all bike riders, not simply e-bike house owners. I’m seeing extra riders on the streets, and so they’re all biking despite the sub-par infrastructure. Think about what number of extra of us would trip if we had bicycling services that prevented driver-cyclist crashes and stopped individuals from parking or driving within the house meant for biking. Together with a want for extra protected lanes, I wish to see the town put money into e-bike charging infrastructure. There’s been plenty of motion to make sure electrical automotive house owners have entry to charging stations, and we should always do the identical for electrical bikes. It will be good to see charging stations alongside the Lakefront Path, at Chicago Public Library places, and at main transit hubs. 

I’m excited to see extra individuals out on e-bikes. I’ve been casually noticing just a few right here and there after I’m out. A number of the of us interviewed talked about that due to their e-bike buy, some co-workers and neighbors have regarded into shopping for an e-bike. I’m certain the Divvy e-bikes may even enhance of us’ curiosity in proudly owning an e-bike. Authorities subsidies for the acquisition of e-bikes would even be a welcome addition to the sustainable transportation panorama right here in Chicago.

Observe Courtney Cobbs on Twitter at @CourtneyCyclez.


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