On June 19th, New York unanimously passed a bill legalizing the use of eBikes and eScooters statewide. While there are some exceptions, these vehicles are now an option for many New Yorkers. Read on for a breakdown of eBikes and eScooters, information on purchasing and using one, and some local tips.
What is an eBike?
eBikes are just like regular bicycles powered by pedaling, but they also have electrical components such as batteries and motors.
What is an eScooter?
Similar to eBikes, eScooters are regular scooters that are foot-powered by pushing off the ground (think Razor brand scooters) but they also have electrical components including motors and batteries.
How much do eBikes and eScooters cost?
Across the board, prices range from $299-$5,199, depending on make, model, and desired features. In many places, eScooter share companies such as Bird or Lime allow rental for cheap short-term use. For example, a Lime eScooter costs $1 plus an additional 30 cents per minute. Business Insider‘s “Best Electric Scooters You Can Buy”, Lifewire‘s “9 Best Electric Scooters of 2019”, Cycling Weekly‘s “13 of the Best Electric Bikes for 2019” and REI‘s “How to Choose an Electric Bike” are great places to start if you are interested in purchasing one.
How do eBikes and eScooters work?
While there are many varieties, most eBikes and eScooters work by allowing riders to turn electric power on once they reach a certain speed on their own. The electric features of eBikes and eScooters are meant to enhance human abilities, rather than replace them – hilly and otherwise difficult terrain can be much more manageable with the extra electric support. Depending on the make and model, the power usually comes from a standard wall outlet charge lithium ion battery that takes 3-6 hours to fully charge, lasts 800-1,200 charges, and provides an electric range of 20-100 miles.
Are eBikes and eScooters safe?
When used responsibly, eBikes and eScooters are about as safe as non-electric bicycles and scooters, since most of them stop providing electric assistance once speed reaches 20 miles per hour and since they are only allowed to be used in certain areas. A 2019 Consumer Reports investigation found that since eScooters were first introduced in late 2017, at least 1,500 riders have been injured and 8 people have died. As time passes and local regulations are set, awareness and safety will likely increase. When riding an eBike or eScooter, consider wearing a helmet, be sure to read all safety stickers and manuals, and stay alert.
What benefits do they have compared to a car?
eBikes and eScooters have many benefits when compared to cars, such as providing exercise and fresh air, reducing an individual’s carbon footprint, offering an alternative to traffic-laden roads and crowded public transportation, and saving money on gas and auto repairs.
Who can use eBikes and eScooters?
- Just about anyone! eBikes and eScooters do not require any special insurance, license, or registration.
- Helmets do not need to be worn, and at least one hand must be on the handlebar at all times.
- Users must be at least 16 years old and generally weigh under 220 pounds, though some models claim to withstand up to 350-pound riders.
- The general range of an electric bike battery is 20-100 miles depending on conditions such as power modes used, terrain, extra weight, and wind.
- Travel is allowed in all designated bike lanes, though New York’s bill allows individual cities and towns to create their own regulations based on their needs. No cities or towns in Suffolk County have yet released their own eBike and eScooter regulations, though these will become available to interested residents as they do.
- eBike and eScooter rental companies are not allowed in Manhattan, and will need permission to operate in other boroughs. Users in Manhattan must own their eBike or eScooter.
Will eBikes and eScooters replace restaurant delivery cars on Long Island? Perhaps, in high-density and high-population areas such as the downtown Main Street area of Patchogue. The relatively low battery range of eBikes and eScooters does not make them a strong alternative to food delivery cars across Long Island, since many residential towns are far from city centers and perhaps popular restaurants. As use increases and local regulations are set, the efficiency and popularity of eBikes and eScooters will likely increase, perhaps enough to replace restaurant delivery cars in more areas throughout the island.