Home Cycling If It Appears Too Simple It Most likely Is – Bike Snob NYC

If It Appears Too Simple It Most likely Is – Bike Snob NYC

If It Appears Too Simple It Most likely Is – Bike Snob NYC


On Friday I discussed the demise of comic Kenny DeForest:

Whereas shops initially reported his demise as the results of a hit-and-run, it now seems as if he was using an electrical Citi Bike and crashed into an unoccupied parked automotive, and headlines modified accordingly:

These circumstances don’t make is demise any much less tragic, nor do they imply we are able to simply say, “Oh, effectively, he crashed right into a parked automotive, all the pieces’s simply nice.” Not solely do drivers nonetheless hit individuals on a regular basis, however there are all kinds of causes one thing like this may occur with or with out their assist–rider distraction, poor highway floor, shut cross by a driver, and so on.–and it’s additionally one thing that would occur to any certainly one of us irrespective of how skilled we expect we could also be.

Naturally although, now that the story has been up to date, the discourse has shifted from “Drivers are too harmful!” to “E-bikes are too harmful!,” as in this text within the Day by day Information:

It’s for subscribers solely, however all you actually need to learn is that this:

And this:

The story generated loads of chatter on the social medias (although what doesn’t?) with varied individuals suggesting e-bikes are significantly harmful as a result of they go quicker (true) and their riders are inexperienced (tempting, presumably even true, however largely conjecture).

Now I definitely admit after I see that out of 28 cyclists killed in 2023 up to now 21 had been using an e-bike I too am tempted to impugn them and need them away. Sure, I’m prejudiced in opposition to e-bikes. As a bike owner, I don’t just like the elevated velocity within the bike lanes, I don’t just like the wildly disparate shapes, sizes, and charges of acceleration, and I don’t like the truth that they’ve taken probably the most environment friendly mode of transportation on this planet and put an enormous battery on it.

On the similar time, clearly plenty of different individuals do like them, and I perceive it doesn’t actually matter what I like or don’t like. I additionally perceive that individuals draw conclusions which are handy to them. When e-scooters first appeared media docs had been freaking out about them as a result of they didn’t have the coronavirus to freak out about but:

This was based mostly partially on individuals displaying up within the hospital with scooter accidents, which…effectively in fact they had been. The e-scooter went from not current in any respect to being in every single place, and clearly some individuals are certain to fall off of them. Plus, as with bikes, docs solely see the scooter riders who will get harm; no person pops into the hospital simply to let everybody know they’re okay and are having a good time. If the bathe had solely been invented in 2018 it will look like probably the most lethal invention within the historical past of humanity and curmudgeons can be livid that individuals not bathe by sitting in a washtub. 

And but…e-scooters by no means actually fulfilled their promise, both, not by an extended shot. As with e-bikes, scooters had been (and nonetheless are) supposed to interchange automotive journeys:

And but driving continues to extend:

Mainly, if you happen to love these items you assume it’s going to avoid wasting the world, and if you happen to hate it you assume it’s going to kill all people, however the reality might be extra prosaic. Sure, there are individuals for whom this expertise could also be transformative (or at the least very handy), and sure, there are additionally “destructive externalities” (that’s smug for “annoying shit”) that comes with it, however finally e-bikes and e-scooters are simply one other handy annoyance an/or annoying comfort–extra additions to the ganglion of traces on all these graphs.

As for e-bikes being extra harmful, 21 out of 28 deaths sounds actually dangerous, however it actually doesn’t inform you all that a lot since who is aware of what number of whole bike journeys in New York Metropolis now contain e-bikes within the first place? They do the identical factor with helmets:


I think most individuals using bicycles in New York Metropolis aren’t sporting helmets, so in fact if you happen to hit a bike owner together with your automotive right here it’s extremely probably they received’t be sporting one. Moreover, the riders who’re sporting them are typically extra skilled. And alcohol can be a consider biking deaths:

The helmeted roadie is nearly definitely sober and helmeted, whereas the tipsy individual using dwelling at evening is nearly definitely not. On this case the true downside is impairment, and the presence or absence of a helmet is incidental.

There are additionally far more individuals on bikes each electrical and analog in New York Metropolis now than there have been when the demise statistics regarded like this and e-bikes weren’t even a factor but:



Given the massive improve in biking numbers it positive seems to be prefer it’s a lot safer in New York Metropolis now (at the least within the context of dying or not dying), and that’s even factoring within the presence of the e-bikes.

So sure, I’ve a variety of issues with e-bikes:

I feel individuals in New York Metropolis are inclined to experience too quick even on common bikes, so the motors ain’t serving to. I see individuals on electrical Citi Bike do dumb shit on a regular basis; you’d assume they might yield as soon as in awhile because it’s a lot simpler to get going once more, however as a substitute the easy velocity appears to compel them to experience proper into pedestrians and busy intersections. And I’m prepared to imagine that there are a not-insignificant variety of inexperienced individuals using round on electrical bikes with extra energy than they’re capable of deal with.

However the place I’d cease quick is taking a look at just a few scary numbers and drawing a conclusion. It’s naive that to assume if these 21 e-bike deaths hadn’t occurred we’d solely have seen seven biking deaths this 12 months. It’s additionally doable that the sheer variety of e-bikes is making even us analog cyclists safer due to the “security in numbers” impact, who is aware of? There’s additionally a giant distinction between one fool on an electrical Citi Bike (I’m not referring to DeForest right here, I’m referring to the various idiots I do see on them) and somebody on a cargo bike the place the motor is just permitting them to extra simply journey on the velocity of a standard bicycle. I feel advocates must cease pretending e-bikes will save the world and get serous concerning the issues they current, and I additionally assume all of the individuals pushing for e-bike registration and all the remainder of it are equally delusional because the metropolis couldn’t legislate itself out of a Twinkie wrapper.

However actually, the one conclusion I’m prepared to attract is that it’s necessary to be cautious of issues which are too straightforward. In reality, wanting issues to be straightforward is what received us into this complete e-bike mess within the first place.



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