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Notes on the Valley: Effortless and eco-conscious -- exploring e-bikes

'While living in Davis and then San Francisco I became an avid biker. I would bike to work and to places around town when doing errands. A practice I try to maintain to this day.'
Stock photo.

While living in Davis and then San Francisco I became an avid biker. I would bike to work and to places around town when doing errands. A practice I try to maintain to this day. I remember one dreary day in San Francisco after work where I was struggling to get up a particularly steep hill.

On this day, I saw someone breeze by me on my left and I was astonished. They weren’t even standing up on their bike, they were leisurely pedaling while sitting down. I was incredibly discouraged until I saw that they were actually on an e-bike. On that day I became a bike fundamentalist and vowed to never ride an e-bike. Riding them didn’t provide the “authentic” bike experience of being exhausted when reaching home with cramped calves.

That was until I rode my friend’s e-bike. It was an incredible balance of being able to pedal when you wanted to and coast when things were more challenging. In addition, I saw how it could really motivate individuals who weren’t avid bikers to get outside. I quickly converted to bike modernism and became a fan.

E-bikes offer an assisted pedaling experience, with an electric motor providing a boost when needed. Bikers can more easily overcome challenging terrains, tackle steep hills, and arrive at their destinations. With e-bikes, people of all ages and fitness levels can enjoy cycling as a convenient and practical means of transportation.

Moreover, e-bikes enable riders to cover longer distances, extending the range of their travels while allowing them to decide how much effort they want to put in. Improved motor systems offer variable levels of assistance, allowing riders to customize their riding experience according to their preferences and terrain conditions.

Many models now offer pedal-assist sensors that respond to the rider's effort, providing a natural riding experience that balances assistance with getting your workout in.

Modern e-bikes now also feature more efficient and lightweight batteries which enhance their overall range and reduce charging times. Smart features like regenerative braking, integrated navigation systems, and smartphone connectivity have made e-bikes more user-friendly and convenient.

As concerns about climate change and environmental sustainability continue to grow, e-bikes emerge as a greener transportation alternative. By substituting short car trips with e-bike commute individuals can significantly reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a cleaner and healthier planet.

E-bikes produce zero emissions and consume substantially less energy than motor vehicles, making them an eco-friendly mode of transportation.

By getting people out of cars and into more efficient forms of transportations, they help alleviate traffic congestion in cities. This has a positive side effect of reducing air pollution and noise levels. By embracing e-bikes, individuals can actively participate in building greener and more sustainable urban and suburban communities.

A recent Pleasanton city council meeting had the discussion of allowing e-bikes on trails in the agenda. City staff made the following recommendations:

1. Allow all classes of e-bikes on trails and pathways where regular bikes are allowed
2. All bikes would be subject to a 15 mph speed limit unless on a bike lane on a public street
3. All bikes continue to yield to pedestrians and e-bikes are not allowed in BMX parks

Both the Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Trails Committee as well as the Parks and Recreation commission agreed with staff and voted to recommend the City Council adopt staff’s recommendation.

I’ve also noticed recent changes in street infrastructure to further shield bike lanes from oncoming traffic, such as the reflective cones on Stoneridge. These changes are a start in making it less intimidating to use bikes to get around the city.

I hope this expanded access motivates individuals to use e-bikes as alternative sources for transportation, both on trails and through the city. I look forward to sharing the road with my e-bike brethren and seeing more people outside enjoying the beautiful summer weather.

Editor's Note: The "Notes on the Valley" blog is written by Monith Ilavarasan, who grew up in Pleasanton. After a career in tech, he took a sabbatical to be a community organizer. He has continued to work in tech and shares his thoughts on the people, places and events that make up and shape the Tri-Valley.

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