Trading robotic cars for a good old bike ride: Why e-bikes beat AVs

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in autonomous vehicles. Big tech and car companies are pouring tons of money into making the dream of self-driving cars a reality. It might seem like we’re finally close to getting the future we’ve been sold by countless sci-fi movies, but maybe we’re missing the mark here. Maybe what we really need isn’t another fancier car on the road, but more people on two wheels instead – I’m talking of course about bicycles and e-bikes.

It’s not that driverless cars aren’t without benefits. The idea sounds good in theory, taking human error out of the equation and replacing it with a supposedly infallible computer. The problem is that even if you ignore the main safety risks of trying this unproven technology on public roads around individuals without consent, you still have an increase in the number of cars on the road that leads to the same problems that cars cause today.

Say hello to bikes and goodbye to jams

One of the most immediate benefits of increasing the number of cyclists on the road is the significant reduction in traffic congestion.

Bicycles take up much less space than cars, and even a modest shift from car transportation to cycling can result in a noticeable decrease in traffic jams, leading to smoother and faster commutes for everyone.

In contrast, driverless cars, while likely one day able to optimize routes and reduce human error, still occupy the same amount of physical space on the road, doing little to alleviate congestion. Their goal is to solve some problems, which they could eventually succeed in doing. But in doing so, flooding the roads with driverless Ubers will only create more problems. Just as Uber itself was intended to solve many of the problems in the transportation industry, almost a decade later it has left us with only more traffic than ever by encouraging the filling of roads with an ever-increasing number of vehicles .

electric bike ride1up prodigy V2

Your heart (and waistline) will thank you

Promoting cycling not only contributes to cleaner air by reducing vehicle emissions, but also encourages an active lifestyle.

Regular cycling has has been proven to improve cardiovascular health, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being. Electric bicycles, with their pedal-assist functionality, make cycling more accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels, ensuring that the health benefits of cycling can be enjoyed by a wider demographic . On the other hand, the convenience of driverless cars leads to an even more sedentary lifestyle, exacerbating current public health problems related to physical inactivity.

Not everyone can ride an electric bike and not every ride is e-bikeable. Far be it from me to call electric bicycles a global solution for every transportation need. But the types of trips being carried out by driverless cars now they are often short hops in the city and so they are the first example of a trip by electric bike.

Stronger, friendlier and more socially connected communities

When you are behind the glass in a private car, you are disconnected from the world. But cycling promotes social interaction and a sense of community.

Unlike the isolating nature of cars, cyclists are more likely to engage with their surroundings and with other people. Creating bike-friendly cities encourages vibrant street life and fosters a sense of belonging and connection among residents.

Not every trip is a chance to stop and chat, but riders tend to be happier, more engaged people because of it. A friendly wave or a chance to say hello on the way to work can be a small mood booster that does wonders for mental health. As social creatures, isolation is rarely good for our minds and bodies.

Supporting sustainable urban development

As urban areas continue to grow, sustainable development becomes increasingly crucial. Prioritize cycling infrastructure, such as protected bike lanes and secure bike parkingpromote a more efficient use of space and resources.

It encourages compact, mixed-use, bike-accessible development, reducing the need for extensive road networks and sprawling parking lots. This not only preserves green spaces, but also creates more livable, human-centered urban environments. Nobody ever said “You know what this neighborhood needs? More asphalt!” Reducing car dependency means more priority to designing cities for people. Two- and three-lane roads can become single roads with a bike lane and wider roads or parks that add more green space in urban areas.

It is also economically better for businesses, as many areas that renovate the streets to be more walking and cycling. they found that increased foot traffic means local businesses are thriving.

Yes, this is a street in Amsterdam. But this could easily be a road in the US. It’s all about priorities.

Tackling economic disparities

Bicycles and e-bikes are more affordable than cars, driverless or otherwise. And the growing list of e-bike purchase incentivesespecially for low-income people, it makes them more affordable than ever.

Investment in bicycle infrastructure and subsidies for e-bikes can help bridge transportation gaps in low-income communities by providing affordable and reliable mobility options. It is also better for local governments and municipalities, reducing the economic costs associated with road maintenance and productivity losses related to congestion.

e-classic plus priority bike

In summary

While driverless cars hold the promise of a high-tech automated future, they are not a panacea for the many challenges facing our transportation systems. Driverless cars are cool, don’t get me wrong. The technology is impressive and undoubtedly promising in certain situations that cannot be handled by a bicycle. But they are mainly used in areas where bicycles could do the same job in a cheaper, more efficient and arguably safer way.

Driverless cars are not the magic fix for our traffic problems and our health problems. Bicycles and e-bikes offer a kind of practical solution, connect with your neighbors, that flow of endorphins that driverless cars can’t match. So how about giving our cities, our health and our wallets a break and give cycling the spotlight it deserves?

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