Roads aren't equipped to support Phoenix's booming e-bike industry
Metro Phoenix is a hotbed for e-bike and other micro-vehicle manufacturing, but we don't yet have the infrastructure to take full advantage of these increasingly popular modes of transportation.
Why it matters: Smaller vehicles decrease congestion on roadways and minimize carbon emissions.
Driving the news: Phoenix-based Lectric, among the biggest e-bike companies in the country, on Tuesday launched its XP 3.0 model, which features a passenger seat.
- The bike can go up to 28mph, has a range of 45-65 miles, depending on the battery selected, and starts at $999.
- Meanwhile, Canadian company ElectraMeccanica announced last year it is developing its first U.S. manufacturing site in Mesa, where it will assemble the Solo, a three-wheeled, single-seat electric vehicle.
- Last month, the company secured a license to start selling the Solo car in Arizona.
Yes, but: ASU urban planning professor David King, who owns multiple e-bikes, tells Axios Phoenix that the Valley needs to standardize its electric vehicle regulations and invest in infrastructure that would make using them safer and more convenient for users.
- For example: Some Valley cities allow users to ride on sidewalks if there's no bike lane, while other cities prohibit sidewalk riding.
Zoom out: This isn't just a Phoenix problem. Engineers, lawmakers and urban transportation experts across the U.S. are grappling with how to keep up with the popularity of e-bikes on streets that aren't designed for them.
- E-bikes go faster than traditional bicycles but slower than cars, so they don't necessarily fit on either the street or in a bike lane.
Of note: The Consumer Product Safety Commission found that injuries from e-bikes and e-scooters have increased significantly as they've become more popular.
What he's saying: "If there isn't a safe place to use them, then people aren't going to use them," King says.
- He says cities should develop dedicated, protected lanes, separate from traditional bike lanes, where e-bikes, scooters, golf carts and other small vehicles could safely operate up to a certain speed.
The other side: Other researchers, including University of Tennessee-Knoxville engineering professor Christopher Cherry, say traditional bike lanes could be shared by e-bikes if there were barriers to protect them from vehicle traffic.
- He told Bloomberg in May that cities should quickly redevelop some car lanes into protected bike lanes to serve all types of bike users.
By the numbers: This year, Lectric predicts it will sell more than 150,000 bikes, electrifying more Americans than any other company in the country besides Tesla.
- Lectric CEO and co-founder Levi Conlow told us the company has sold 10,000 bikes to customers in metro Phoenix and continues to see increasing demand here.
What we're watching: Valley cities have been hesitant to reduce vehicle lanes, and are unlikely to do so for small vehicles unless there is overwhelming demand.
More Phoenix stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Phoenix.