Urban commuters seeking to save money on gasoline, avoid traffic jams and lower their carbon footprint can now turn to electric bicycles. Electric Bicycles or e-bikes are standard bicycles fitted with a small electric motor and batteries. Riders can either use their own muscles to pedal, use electric power for propulsion, or both.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that average gasoline prices across the United States have climbed almost a dollar per gallon from a year ago. With West Coast gas prices averaging near $3 a gallon, commuters are looking for cheaper, greener alternatives.
Many regional transit authorities are facing severe budget shortfalls and have either cut services or are considering service cuts and rate hikes. With driving becoming more expensive and without an appropriate public transit alternative, electric bicycles are becoming the vehicle of choice for urban commuters.
E-bikes are easy to operate and require minimal maintenance. Most offer a riding range that can exceed 15 miles per charge. Riding range can be greatly increased if riders pedal along with the motor, especially during acceleration, and charging is simple. Just plug the bike into a standard wall socket!
The cost of fully charging an average e-bike’s battery is less than 4 cents. When you compare that to the $40 or $50 it takes to fill the tank of a car, the savings are tremendous – a fuel economy exceeding 1200 miles per gallon.
Larry Van Wilgen, co-founder of Empowered Ebikes (http://www.empoweredebikes.com) and an avid e-bike user explains the attraction: “Electric bicycles are fun and easy to ride. I can cruise at 20 mph and not break a sweat, even on a hot and humid day. I can focus my attention on my surrounding, rather than on pedaling and keep up with urban traffic better. That makes me feel safer on the road.” Empowered Ebikes offers electric bicycles and tricycles, including some models that can fit in the trunk of a car or carried onto a train.