As Traffic Congestion and Climate Change Worsen, Cities Hype E-Bikes

Sep 20, 2022

The city of Worcester, Massachusetts, is giving away 100 electric bikes (e-bikes) to low-income residents. Denver, Colorado, is offering people a $1,700 refund if they purchase one. And people in California can get up to $7,500 in vouchers to help buy an e-bike if they live in an area with a lot of air pollution.

 E-bikes have rechargeable batteries and motors. They either help the rider as they pedal or move the bike without any pedaling. These bikes are smaller than cars. They do not produce carbon-heavy exhaust. So, they are an attractive option for cities looking for ways to ease traffic and reduce pollution. 

"A lot of … (places) are trying to show progress on climate initiatives, and this is an easy and tangible way," said one electric bike policy and campaign director.

Interest in e-bikes has grown since the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 80 incentive programs around the US have been set up to get more people to use the bikes. The programs seem to be working. In Denver, e-bike users reported reduced travel times and increased productivity. They also stopped around 1,367 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere. 

E-bikes come with some drawbacks, though. They cost a lot. There's also a higher chance of injuries in e-bike use compared to traditional bikes. Still, many see e-bikes’ growing popularity as a good thing. 

Photo from Himiway Bikes courtesy of Unsplash.

Based on information in the story, which of the following is a potential disadvantage to using an e-bike? (Common Core RI.5.1; RI.6.1)
a. They could help reduce traffic pollution.
b. There is a higher instance of injuries as compared to a traditional bike.
c. They are more expensive than some cars.
d. They could increase traffic congestion.
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