Letter: E-bikes aren’t only cause of unsafe behavior on path

Posted 9/8/22

To the editor:

I live in Bristol, and whenever the day is warm enough, I take my Blix Packa Cargo e-Bike on the East Bay Bike Path. My husband and I have used our e-bike to bring our daughter to …

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Letter: E-bikes aren’t only cause of unsafe behavior on path

Posted

To the editor:

I live in Bristol, and whenever the day is warm enough, I take my Blix Packa Cargo e-Bike on the East Bay Bike Path. My husband and I have used our e-bike to bring our daughter to preschool for the past two years, and I have used it to get to work.

On Wednesdays, we go to the Hope & Main market and fill up the bike’s basket with delicious local treats, then ride home by the gorgeous Jacob’s Point Preserve as the sun starts to set. I realize how privileged I am to be able to do these things, and am grateful for them every day. These rides have been a bright spot during the pandemic and have made up some of our favorite family memories.

On my many days on the bike path, I have seen lots of unsafe behavior. This behavior is not limited to e-bikes. It is not even limited to those on bikes (dogs with retractable leashes, I’m looking at you). But mostly what I see on the bike path is people enjoying the fresh air and exercise and quality time with family and friends that our stellar bike paths provide. E-bikes help more people access these experiences. Those with sore knees or bad backs can still partake in the joy of riding a bike and witnessing our state’s gorgeous scenery. Those who cannot afford a car have an extended range to get to work or visit friends or shop for food. People can actually bike to their jobs because they don’t need to factor in an extra hour of travel time and a shower once they arrive.

E-bikes help more people in our state use the bike path as it was intended. They are a critical piece of green infrastructure and key to making Rhode Island a more sustainable and enjoyable place to live. Of course there are safety issues that need to be addressed when allowing e-bikes on our bike paths. But the problem in recent reports of incidents involving e-bikes on our bike paths lies with the rider, not the equipment. An outright ban on all e-bikes on Rhode Island’s bike paths would prevent a significant and growing set of bikers from enjoying this public resource and would limit our bike paths effectiveness as tools for a greener and more accessible state.

Caitlin Mandel
Bradford Street

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