Electric bicycles. Answer to obesity and gridlock on Interstates 5 and 405?

In the July/August edition of the IEEE Industry Applications magazine is an interesting report on electric bicycles that caught my attention. As we hear that Americans have an obesity problem perhaps this motoring alternative might also relieve our traffic congestion while we wait for OCTA and CALTRANS to relieve gridlock.

Annette Muetze & Ying C. Tan’s featured article entitled ELECTRIC BICYCLES begins as follows.

“Electric motor powered bicycles have been making there way into the U.S. market for about two decades. In the U.S., such bicycles can be fully powered by a motor. In other countries such as Japan, electric-motor-powered bicycles are required to operate with 50% human pedal power for up to 12 mi/h, and an even higher percentage of human power is required above that speed. Such bicycles are commonly known as “ped-elec’s” (pedal electric cycle). “The report goes on to say that “electric bicycles can be used for a variety of purposes, for instance, as a vehicle for police or law enforcement in cities where parking and traffic are a problem, as a guide bicycle during bicycle races, as a park ranger vehicle, or for leisurely rides and commuting purposes.”

In the report is Table 1. ASPECTS FAVORING THE USE OF ELECTRIC BICYCLES that is fun to read.

Energy costs (based on a 100 mile trip in a 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer) and an electric bicycle. As their cost of fuel is way below reality I will revise that figure using $3.00 per gallon. As such, at 23 mpg the fuel cost is $13.00. Using an electric bicycle the cost is $0.12/100 miles.

Other costs. Generally no insurance, license, registration, and parking are needed.

Traffic flow. Most states allow electric bicycles on bicycle paths; avoidance of traffic jams.

Environmental Friendliness. Zero-emission vehicle

Health Benefit Incorporation of exercise and longer-distance commuting.

Table 18 has a few comments on the Market Trend.

Demand. The market demand for electric bicycles might increase in nongreen vehicles are banned. For example, in Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou municipals banned the sale and operation of fuel-assisted vehicles. As a result, in the first half of 2000, sales of electric bicycles in Shanghai increased 99.14% compared with the same period in the previous year.

Publicity. More publicity is needed to introduce the public to electric vehicles.”

Having recently returned from China, and ending our trip in Shanghai, I can report that Shanghai is limiting new vehicle registrations with an auction. Last year they only accepted 50% of the applicants who were charged around $5,000 for said plates. They also have enacted alternate dates of driving in the city by local residents due to congestion. Although we saw thousands of old bicycles in China we also took note of the many newer vehicles on the toll roads and in the cities.

Let us hope that this country never enacts legislation banning traditional vehicles that we have enjoyed for over 100 years in this country. When is big brother going to stay out of our face with their social engineering schemes to protect us from ourselves. No thank you!

About Larry Gilbert