Over time, I’ve been somewhat ambivalent about electric bikes. Doing a search, I noted them here and here. While I’ve never gotten enthusiastic about buying one, neither have I condemned them as a new form of “Spawn of Satan.” Lately, however, my opinion has been getting more strongly formed. Now, I’m strongly in favor of electric bikes, unless I’m against them. Either way, I’m less neutral. You see, this summer, a company started renting electric bikes in Ocean Shores, Washington.
On busy weekends, these guys might have a dozen or so electric bikes rented out at one time. The bikes “look like beach cruiser” bikes. However, they go LOTS faster. What makes me less ambivalent is that I notice the tourists that rent these things seem FAR MORE likely to act like they are operating a vehicle than the tourists that rent human-only-powered bikes. Commonly, the electric bike tourists control their lane rather than hugging the RH extreme of the roadway. Yup, they seem to pretty much ride in a manner that approximates "the line of sweetness." It makes me wonder since these people have not been through any sort of bike ed classes. They just feel comfortable using their legal rights to a “narrow” lane instead of hugging the road edge. I also have not seem them riding (illegally) the city sidewalks, also like a lot of the human-powered bikes. All of this SHOULD be goodness for those of us (well, at least ONE of us) here in Ocean Shores that operate using sound traffic principles. If that proves to be the case, there’s an upside to electric bikes that might help all other cyclists, and particularly be helpful in conditioning motorists to expect safe bike operation. Hurrah for electric bikes!!!!!
OTOH, like a lot of other small towns, one should remember that the government people of Ocean Shores expect bikes to operate at the EXTREME RIGHT of any road, as documented here. It’s the typical “from behind a windshield” bias against non-motorized road users, codified in a "for now" fuzzy manner. Should they decide to make new draconian ordinances, that might hurt cyclists that prefer to ride in accord with generally accepted “best practices.”
What will transpire? That determines whether I’m STRONGLY in favor of, or opposed to, electric bikes. I suspect that any stupid laws that the city might consider will, as their current cycling laws are, be almost universally ignored, in which case, I repeat “Hurrah for electric bikes!!!” Who’d have thought electric bikes might be a force for equitable treatment of all cyclists?