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Electric Bicycles in New York City & Beyond

What is the fastest growing sector in the bicycle market? Electric bicycles, or e-bikes as they are known. On a recent trip to New York City, a BikeLord noticed that there are a huge number of electric bikes zooming around the city. And yet, what are the reasons that these e-bikes are so prevalent in NYC? New York is an incredible city for bikers, in terms of bike lanes. According to Curbed, the “city’s bike network is currently about 1,190 miles”, with new lanes being added every year. In 2017, New York’s Department of Transportation (DOT) promised to add 50 miles per year. These lanes protect bikers and help them to feel secure while riding. Beyond that, electric bikes provide a rapid way for bikers, especially delivery drivers, to get to their destination in an eco-friendly and efficient manner.

Interestingly, e-bikes were illegal in New York City until July of 2018. Many broke the law and had their bicycles confiscated and/or paid a $500 fine. Fortunately, due to the popularity, prevalence, and inevitability of ebikes, the DOT has passed a law that allows for pedal-assist bikes, which electronically boosts rider speeds while still requiring them to use their legs. The law will still require ebikers in New York City to maintain speeds of 20mph or less. The alternate, throttle ebikes, still remains illegal in NYC.

Yet it’s not just New York City; the number of ebikes has been increasing all over the United States. According to Forbes, e-bikes are “a small, but growing market in the USA”, with roughly 270,000 bikes being sold last year (2017). We’ve already seen it in Boston, with people riding their bike in from Boston suburbs like Cambridge, Medford, Brookline and Somerville. Many prefer them to regular bicycles, since on a hot summer day you can arrive at work relatively un-sweaty.

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