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How and when e-bikes can help Smart Cities

Battery powered e-bikes and e-scooters have been becoming increasingly popular worldwide, from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles, and major companies like Ford, GM and Uber and jumping on the trend. Smart Cities, eager to become cleaner, reduce traffic, and improve urban life, can find some potential in such vehicles, but their smart and efficient use depends on several factors.

Electric two-wheeled transportation does have several advantages, but it also causes a number of problems, and its rapid spread leaves smart city planners struggling to adapt. E-bikes and e-scooters often speed dangerously down sidewalks, causing accidents and even a number of fatalities, and crowding city streets and sidewalks when in motion or when carelessly parked. The main problem is that the physical infrastructure of most cities is not ready for the disruption caused by these vehicles. Some places, like New York, have passed legislation limiting their use or banning the faster and more dangerous ones, but enforcement has been negligible.

Speed is the main problem, as it causes a significant difference from traditional bike traffic. Smart Cities attempting to manage the e-wheeled trend should follow three “D’ principles: density, diversity and design:

First of all, the adoption of any new form of transportation has to be supported by the urban density of the place in question. Solutions which work in one city might not work in another with different density.

Diversity has to do with understanding different types of riders and different uses for these vehicles. In some places they can be primarily popular with tourists while in other they can be a popular means of commuting to work.

Once density and diversity have been clarified a city can tackle the issue of designing the physical infrastructure required for such vehicles, which seldom is an easy tasks, since, for example, the speedy e-scooters cannot simply use existing bicycle lanes.

In short, solutions for the efficient integration of these vehicles in smart cities must be based on the features of the city and the general approach on transportation which is prevalent.

Ultimately, integration of e-bikes and e-scooters should complement the multimodality of transportation systems and not work against other forms of transport, since studies show that the best outcome for citizens and their health is the existence of a wide variety of transportation options.

The original article can be found on DIGITAL TRENDS.