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AASHTO Journal

Study: San Francisco Rated Top City for E-Bikes

To celebrate "National Bike Month" this past May, Silicon Valley, California-based GenZe compiled a list of the top 10 U.S. cities where electrically-powered bicycles or "e-bikes" are becoming a popular "mobility choice" for work commuters – and five of the six top cities on that list are all located on the West Coast, the firm noted

"U.S. cities are increasingly bicycle-friendly, adding shared lanes and bike paths designed for two-wheel commuters," explained Tom Valazek, GenZe's chief marketing officer, in a statement. "But the added power of an electric bike makes cycle commuting possible in unexpected cities, where hills and terrain present a challenge for conventional bicycles."

The National Conference of State Legislatures recently pointed out that, in the U.S., e-bikes have seen the largest sales increase of any bike type, growing by more than 100 percent in dollars and more than 70 percent in units since 2014. Most major U.S. bicycle brands sell e-bikes, and bicycle manufacturers have moved or are positioning themselves to move to the U.S. to capitalize on the growing market, the group noted.

060118bike.jpgNCSL added that e-bikes cost on average between $2,000 and $3,000, versus a $1,000 average investment for a mid-range traditional commuter bicycle. But the group said e-bikes may also provide a more attractive and feasible choice to take short trips as, according to USDOT survey data, half of all trips in the U.S. are three miles or less in length – a distance widely regarded as "bikeable" for most adults and even more feasible for electric bicycle riders.

The cities listed in GenZe's study were selected according to the company's "Three T's" criteria: "Terrain," for the grade of streets, number of hills and geographic size of city area; "Traffic," for the average hours spent in traffic per city, and population density; and "Trails," for total miles of bikeways, including dedicated bike lanes, bike paths or shared streets.

[Side note: Caltrans Chief Deputy Director Ryan Chamberlain recently took a “pedal tour” of Sacramento’s burgeoning bike infrastructure.]

"There have been many published studies that rank the top bicycle cities in the country, but none of these studies are e-Bike-specific" added GenZe's Valazek. "We aimed to identify the cities where e-bikes can make a substantial difference in daily commuting."

Thus the "Top 10 E-Bike Cities" in the U.S., according to GenZe's research, are:

  1. San Francisco.
  2. Seattle.
  3. New York City.
  4. San Diego.
  5. Los Angeles.
  6. Portland, Oregon.
  7. Pittsburgh.
  8. Boston.
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota.

Even states like Washington, where e-bikes are already frequently used, are getting additional legislative "fine-tuning" for such equipment

new law, Senate Bill 6434, which took effect back in March, classified e-bikes into three categories, eliminated a minimum-age requirement for slower e-bike models and requires manufacturers to label the classification number, top electric-assisted speed, and motor output wattage.

"We have seen a rise in e-bike ridership and these new standards create more clarity, allowing consumers to make informed choices as the industry grows," explained State Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, who sponsored that law.

Photo courtesy of Dylan's Tours

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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