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Throughout the coronavirus pandemic and how it has changed everyday life, e-bikes and bike-sharing programs are becoming very popular because of things like social-distancing, sustainability, and accessibility, according to the New York Times. The market research firm NPD Group said sales of e-bikes grew 1455 in 2020 compared to 2019, outpacing sales of all bikes, which were up 65%.
Quoted by the Times, Dirk Sorenson, a sports industry analyst at NPD, explained that, “Bike categories that catered to families and recreational and newer riders grew better than more performance-oriented bikes.” He also noted that e-bikes “overcome challenges like big hills or going on a longer ride than a typical bike.”
But consumer sales aren’t the only factor that has made e-bikes mainstream. Municipal bike-sharing systems have also increasingly adopted the technology. Los Angeles, for example, has a new Electric Metro Bike, available in Downtown, and Central LA. “The pedal-assisted, electric bikes expand opportunities for riders to complete their first/last mile connections from farther distances with less effort required to pedal,” the website reads. Riders can unlock the Electric Metro Bikes for $1 and ride for $1.75 every 30 minutes.
Social distancing has demanded the need for safe and more accessible public transportation, as well as sustainable travel measures. This is what has forged a growing adoption of e-bikes among travelers and local residents. Josh Squire, the founder and chief executive of the bike-share service Hopr, told the Times that COVID-19 propelled electric bikes forward by years.
At the start of the pandemic, bike-share and e-scooter usage stalled as those working from home stopped commuting and the fear of the spread of the virus rose. But then, bike-sharing became an alternative to buses or trains for essential workers who needed to travel.
Samantha Herr, the executive director of the North American Bikeshare Association, told the Times: “Covid was able to highlight micromobility as an essential transportation service, filling in where transit service stopped or where gaps existed and helping essential workers get to work.”
And then, for everyone else sheltering in place, as the Times notes, biking became “a remedy for cabin fever,” with bike sharing being “an affordable cure.” A recent poll of 1,000 Americans quoted by the University of California, Irvine concluded that 50% plan to ride bikes more often post-pandemic. In Jun. 2020, the third annual PlacesForBikes City Ratings were announced, after 567 cities were analysed and rated The top five cities for cycling included two California cities: San Luis Obispo, at no. 1, and Santa Barbara, at no. 3.
Los Angeles is hardly a cycling capital — let alone a safe one. But according to new data from the fitness app Strava quoted by Bloomberg, it did experience a surge in biking after COVID-19 began. Before the pandemic, LA was at 1% of its population biking to work. But by May 2020, the jump was 93%.
Moreover, the City of Los Angeles and Metro recently began offering essential workers a discounted membership for a full year for the agency’s bike share program. In order to “recognize the incredible sacrifices that many essential workers have made and continue to make on a daily basis, “ the agency wrote on their website, Metro Bike Share is offering the 365-Day Pass at a discounted rate of $75/year to eligible workers.