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

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

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen a nationwide biking growth as folks search socially-distanced methods to get round, get bodily exercise, and have enjoyable, and Chicago is not any exception. I’m positively seeing extra folks biking on the North Facet this summer time than I did final final 12 months. This summer time I joined the ranks of e-bike homeowners 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. In keeping with bike business market evaluation, electrical bike gross sales have been up 84 p.c in March, 92 p.c in April, and 137 p.c in Could. Chicagoland bike outlets report they’re typically seeing a rise in gross sales, together with e-bikes, because of the pandemic.

Eric Krzystofiak, basic supervisor for Wheel & Sprocket in Evanston and Oak Park says he doesn’t count on the rise in e-bike gross sales to decelerate anytime quickly. “Our prospects haven’t skilled any delays in getting the bike they need. As increasingly more folks discover out they will change a automobile and get a great exercise with an e-bike, we count on the recognition to proceed to develop.”

Courtney Cobbs together with her new electrical cargo bike at 4 Star Household Cyclery.

I checked in with new e-bike homeowners to listen to about their experiences. Sarah Candy and her husband and son lives in Ravenswood. They have been contemplating shopping for an electrical automobile however discovered there weren’t loads of reasonably priced choices. Her husband discovered Four Star Family Cyclery and urged they take a look at journey bikes. After renting a motorbike for a weekend and testing it out with their son, they have been bought.

Candy mentioned earlier than discovering e-bikes she by no means felt all that secure and comfy biking. “We have been getting form of tired of walks and the bike simply opened up our world. We haven’t pushed our automobile within the 2 months we’ve had the e-bike.” After shopping for an e-bike, Candy is extra vocal about her need for protected bike lanes and safe bike parking at her office. She says folks ask her questions on her bike each day. “Most individuals have an interest within the electrical half. ‘Is there a motor? Do you pedal? How do you park it? How usually do you cost it?’ I get loads 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 because of the Mayor Lori Lightfoots’s transit shutdowns throughout current civil unrest, and hopes rides together with her daughter will present a brand new supply of sensory stimulation. Relating to storing her bike, she’s lucky sufficient to reside 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, town would do properly 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 with the ability to go longer distances with out being tremendous sweaty,” he mentioned. “With the ability to simply bike on a brilliant windy day was additionally an enormous enchantment.” I requested Steven if he had any memorable rides in windy situations. He mentioned he was really out biking the day Chicago skilled tornadoes! “I did slide somewhat bit but it surely wasn’t as dangerous in comparison with if I had been on an everyday bike.”  

Quispe mentioned a number of the responses to his bike. “The most typical response is folks considering 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 people 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 mentioned. 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 means 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 on account of with the ability to go sooner. “I can now beat the Brown Line from my dwelling to the Loop. Biking saves me about 10-Quarter-hour. I’m additionally happening 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 usually are 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 stunned by my pace. 

My final interview was with Martha and Margaret, a pair who reside 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 in the course of the pandemic. In addition they love being exterior in the course of the hotter months and felt biking may enhance their enjoyment of the outside.

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’ll preserve a greater eye on their kids, since they’re not driving in an enclosed area, and so they now not should yell in an effort to talk.

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

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

The pandemic bike growth could have been an opportunity to upgrade bicycling facilities for all bike riders, not simply e-bike homeowners. I’m seeing extra riders on the streets, and so they’re all biking regardless of the sub-par infrastructure. Think about what number of extra people would journey if we had bicycling services that prevented driver-cyclist crashes and stopped folks from parking or driving within the area meant for biking. Together with a need for extra protected lanes, I want to see town spend money on e-bike charging infrastructure. There’s been loads of motion to make sure electrical automobile homeowners have entry to charging stations, and we must 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 folks out on e-bikes. I’ve been casually noticing a couple of right here and there once I’m out. A number of the people interviewed talked about that due to their e-bike buy, some co-workers and neighbors have appeared into shopping for an e-bike. I’m positive the Divvy e-bikes may even enhance people’ 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.

Comply with Courtney Cobbs on Twitter at @CourtneyCyclez.

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