CLEVELAND — Another new year means big purchases and losing COVID weight are front of mind for many Americans right at the time when electric bicycles are becoming more popular than ever before.
They make it easier for cyclists to pedal by providing an electric boost to the pedaling that a rider already does. Some models allow rider to engage a throttle to push the bike along without human power.
Antonin Robert’s move to the near West Side, much closer to his office on East 21st Street and Superior Avenue, made him part of two trends at once: the group of Clevelanders moving closer to Downtown Cleveland, and the growing number of cyclists using E-bikes to get around.
“You still get a workout, you still get the pleasure and experience of biking but you have the assist all the way,” said Robert.
The extra jolt he gets from his E-bike’s batter allows him to ride a few miles to work in formal clothing without breaking a sweat.
“The device itself allows you to go considerable extra mileage without really the concern of time or effort,” said Robert.
“[E-bike companies] do a lot of marketing, friends buy them and they say, ‘Hey, you gotta try this,’ and once you try them, they’re pretty addicting,” said Nosse.
Nosse and Ronschke say earlier generations of E-bikes often were uncomfortable to ride with the electric assist pushing riders more than it helped them. More modern versions have addressed those problems making them a viable option for cyclists at all levels.
“In the most recent generation that we have now, they nailed it,” said Ronschke. “There is not one person who comes back after a test ride without a smile on their face.”
Ronschke says E-bikes were only recently allowed in the National Park when the National Park System updated its rules around the devices at the end of 2020.
The Tax Break
Entry-level E-bikes generally cost around $1,500-$2,000, making it slightly more expensive than the middle of the market for traditional bicycles.
President Biden’s Build Back Better Act could ultimately include a tax break for E-bikes that would help shave a few hundred dollars off the final price depending on a cyclist’s income, the bike they purchase, and negotiations to get to the legislation passed.
That extra help could make it even harder to keep E-bikes in stock because it could bring the price tag down, competing with the price of a traditional bike.
“I think it just opens up the opportunity for folks that would not have considered it as a commuter option,” said Robert.
Robert says he has friends and neighbors who cycle for pleasure and exercise on the weekend but haven’t considered using those same machines to get to work, but an easily-purchased E-bike might help change their minds.
“For us, the tax credit is an exciting proposition,” said Nosse. “Anything that makes bikes more affordable for people, in our view, is a good thing.”
Robert says he hopes more cyclists on the road, whether they’re on a traditional bike or an E-bike, spurs local leaders to improve bike infrastructure around Greater Cleveland.
He points out that the Midway Protected Bike Network proposed for Superior Avenue between Public Square and East 55th Street would help him get to work while also connecting much of the east side to the heart of Downtown Cleveland.
A different project proposal along Lorain Avenue could eventually put a protected cycle track on at least part of that busy west side roadway giving cyclists another route through Ohio City.
News 5 rode along with two cyclists on both sides of Cleveland to see what it’s like to mostly rely on a bicycle to complete their daily tasks, and find out what happens when cycling injuries keep riders off two wheels.
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