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Opinion | Free E-Bikes for Everyone!


I admit, there may be obstacles:

Revolt from drivers against any politician who voted for the plan.

This is likely to be the most pressing, pragmatic problem, but we’re in a climate emergency here. It’s time for bold, decisive action.

Many people who are disabled cannot ride e-bikes.

There are a few companies that do make e-bikes for disabled people. These models may not work for everyone, but again, there will still be electronic taxis. We should ensure that the plan is compliant with the American With Disabilities Act.

Everyone signs up for an e-bike and then doesn’t use it.

There is likely to be some waste. To minimize it, some cities might place conditions on their e-bike programs. For example, if you haven’t used your e-bike in six months, the city, which could theoretically track the mileage of each e-bike, could ask for it back. But I’m not overly concerned with this problem. Will some people schlep their free bike across state lines to sell it? Maybe, but that shouldn’t be an impediment to a big idea.

There are already cities like Portland, Ore., and New York where you can easily rent e-bikes, but we haven’t achieved a carless revolutions in those places.

We’re still in the early days of e-bike adoption. While many cities did, in fact, shut down roads during the pandemic, they didn’t do so at the scale I’m envisioning here. And owning your own e-bike, as I’m proposing, is a significant improvement. It takes away the hassle of having to get to a docking station and pay a fee each time you want to ride. And people who can’t afford to rent an e-bike for every trip can still have full access to one.

How do you transport your kids?

Each e-bike could have a free child seat option. These seats are safe and relatively cheap, and could be returned to the city once the child aged out of needing one. My wife and I take our young daughter to school quite regularly on our e-bike. Is this safe? I think so. The biggest threat to our commute, of course, comes from cars.

Everyone looks like a giant nerd on their e-bike, which means you have a city of giant nerds.

I have no solution to this problem.

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