My September 2018 adventure involved yet another self guided cycling tour in France and Germany. It seems the world is attracted to Europe’s well developed Veloroutes.
If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, a quick internet search for Euro Veloroute Map will open your eyes to the options that are available.
The target this year was the Moselle River Cycle Path that started in Metz, France, and finished at Koblenz, Germany, where the Moselle met the Rhine.
The Moselle is a spectacular ride on well marked, paved pathways along a meandering River Valley, passing through picturesque Villages and under hillsides of intensively manicured vineyards.
The Moselle is a mecca for cyclists. On any sunny Saturday, over the approximate 360-kilometre pathway from Metz to Koblenz I estimate I would be sharing the route with over 5,000 bikes.
At break time, bikes are clustered around coffee shops and restaurants along the way, and the Patisseries and Bääckereien run a huge business in delicious pastries.
During the tour, it became evident that of the steady traffic of touring cyclists, at least 45 per cent were riding E-bikes.
As a mode of transportation in Europe, bicycles take up a significant share of vehicles on the move. Now E-bike production and sales have become a booming industry. E-Bike sales in Germany alone for 2017 were reported at 720,000 with annual sales increasing by 19 per cent.
These statistics are not lost on North American bicycle retailers. Bike retailers on this side of the Atlantic have seen the Euro trends and are ramping up their own E-bike inventories and sales. Numbers for American sales for the same period are much lower at 263,000 for 2017, but growing at 25 per cent per year.
E-bike technology is rapidly evolving to meet the demands and so are the designs. No longer are E-bikes being shipped just in the classic big black mountain bike designs. Expect to see colourful, road bike, folding, fat tire, double battery, freight styles, lighter, and endless other choices.
Who, you may ask are adopting the use of E-bikes? I would have assumed it was just Baby Boomers or seniors, wanting to deal with fitness challenges, but the reality is E-bikes are becoming the bike of choice for all ages.
E-Bikes are particularly well suited for British Columbia and our hilly terrain. Next time you see someone barely working to climb past you on your local hill, expect that it’s their little electric motor doing the job and not their quads. E-bikes flatten hills. Some bike shops even direct buyers to test their demonstrators on local hills.
Ideally E-bikes will extend the active outdoor “shoulder season” of life. At one point on the Moselle ride, I had to turn back to snap a photo of an E-bike couple that may have been near their 90s.
How will E-Bikes affect cycling in our region? The phenomenal growth and adoption rates for
E-bikes should be a warning to those who manage our towns and cities that our roads will have to be shared with more and more two-wheel, non-polluting, active transportation vehicles. Expect to experience an unparalleled increase in demands for segregated bike lanes, secure parking, and charging stations for a bewildering array of battery-assisted transporters.
Don Gemmell is an Okanagan Weekend reader who lives in Summerland.