Data Suggest that Ebikes are the Future for Bike Share

New York, USA

In just one year from May 2020 to May 2021 the proportion of all bike share rides done using e-bikes in 11 major cities across the USA more than tripled.

An NBC News analysis of bike-share data from 11 of 13 cities that have comparable numbers shows that in May of last year, e-bikes accounted for only 11 percent of bike-share rides in cities surveyed, with 240,000 e-bike rides. In May 2021, they accounted for 38 percent of bike-share rides. Because total rides on non-ebikes also grew this the total number of e-bike share rides in these 11 cities increased 580% to 1.4 million trips.

While bike-share programs are not new, the addition of e-bikes allows riders to easily reach speeds of 15 mph, or speeds typically associated with high-endurance riders. That’s because of an electric motor that accelerates the bike as the rider pedals, making it possible to commute longer distances in a short amount of time.

The North American Bikeshare Association published a report in 2020 that showed that shared e-bikes were used almost twice as often as conventional shared bikes in an average day.

This is despite the fact that e-bikes are significantly more expensive to hire, although the exact premium varies from city to city.

Some cities such as Nashville, Tennessee, and Madison, Wisconsin, have even replaced their fleets entirely with e-bikes, due to their popularity. Madison’s bike-share program is run by BCycle, which replaced the town’s entire fleet with e-bikes in June 2019.

“We saw incredible growth, double, triple ridership of what we had seen previously,” said Morgan Ramaker, BCycle’s executive director.

BCycle (which is owned by Trek) has bike-share programs in more than 40 cities, with 21 of them sporting e-bikes. She said that despite the pandemic hit, they saw higher ridership in 2020, especially among the systems that had e-bikes.

A longer version of this article was first published on NBC News.

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