Too many hills in Seattle? eBikes may be the answer

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eBikes Belltown.jpg

There's a fancy new two-way bike lane in Seattle running past my front door in Belltown, along Second Avenue between Seattle Center and Pioneer Square, part of Seattle Dep't of Transportation's "mobility improvements" plan. Much of the corridor includes protection from traffic and dedicated traffic signals (so errant motorists don't run over cyclists). Better than "sharrows," better than easy-to-ignore green paint on the roadway.

In a way, though, it's a chicken-and-egg situation. A lot of people around Seattle would like to commute on a bike (in clement weather, anyway) but face at least two barriers: lack of protected lanes for travel, and (oof!) lack of power for the Seattle's many inclines.

Thankfully, the infrastructure is coming, bit by bit. Says Sandra Wolf, CEO of German bike manufacturer Riese & Müller, it's local mayors who are leading the way. "They have the courage to move out in front," she said this afternoon, during a brief inspection of the 2nd Avenue bike path. "National politicians are often too fearful of automobile and manufacturing interests, but in Germany [she's based in Darmstadt, near Frankfurt], the political will is there."

Riese & Muller makes high-end eBikes, which sell for $4,500 and up. Bike enthusiast Davey Oil of G&O Family Cyclery will gladly sell you one. Longtime Seattle bike shop Greg's Greenlake Cycle sells bikes for half of that. And ScootAbout, which concentrates on mopeds and scooters like Vespas, offer "starter bikes" for $1,500 or so.

In Europe these days, half of all bikes sold have some sort of electric assist. As I found out a couple of years back, they've got hills in Paris, too.

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on May 9, 2018 3:27 PM.

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