Assisted Living

Zion Canyon Overlook

Anne and I love to bicycle. It is our favorite form of exercise. As we get older though, I wonder about being able to continue pedaling about the busy streets of Saint Louis. Hopefully, this eventuality is still many years in the future.

The Saint Louis electric car club routinely puts on electric car shows and I have attended a couple of these over the years. Early on, the vehicles on display were all of the DIY sort. Later, these car shows turned corporate, with mainstream car manufacturers showing off their wares. Joining them were electric bike vendors. I checked them out, but found these bikes too heavy and too expensive.

Once, I was cycling in Forest Park, when I got passed, while going uphill by a guy who was pedaling, but obviously in an effortless manner. As he sped away, I figured out that he was riding an electric bike, an e-bike. After I realized this, I felt some indignation, but soon settled into a mood of moral superiority. 

We were in Zion National Park and at the main pedestrian entrance, I spied a sign that announced that “No E-Bikes Allowed in Park”. In my opinion, the National Park Service has always looked rather askance at bikes, particularly mountain bikes. I viewed this e-bike prohibition as just the latest manifestation of the parks service’s biking prejudice. This prohibition is especially perplexing, since in Zion most bicyclists use the park’s shuttle buses to haul them and their bikes up to the upper end of the valley and then coast back downhill to the start.

The New Yorker recently published an article, The Electric Bike Conundrum that wrestles with acceptance of e-bikes. Author Thomas Beller personally struggles with his love-hate feelings towards electric bicycles. He accepts the efficacy of using e-bikes for NYC delivery services. Who wants cold pizza? But wavers in his support of e-bikes by city commuters, citing safety concerns. It is this article that coined the term ‘assisted living’, with regard to electric bikes. 

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