E-Bikes Could Solve Traffic Woes

E-Bikes Could Solve Traffic Woes


Bike enthusiast Jan Sutter urges Alamedans to make the move to electric bikes.

Retired Alameda educator and IT specialist Jan Sutter has been biking around the Island for 27 years. He has an electric suggestion for Alamedans when it comes to beating traffic issues: e-bikes.

“Bicycling is booming in Alameda and that’s good. But something that would really improve Alameda’s traffic woes would be more people using electric bicycles. For older cyclists, as well as moms pulling trailers of groceries and dads with carts of kids, California has made life easier. That’s because it has legalized electric assisted two-wheelers. The law is simple. As long your rig can’t go over 20 mph, you’re good to ride in any designated bike route, path, lane, or share the streets.

“I built a hybrid, pedal-assisted, e-bike about five years ago. My e-bike does about 15 mph with me pedaling in top gear. It’s a direct-drive Currie conversion kit that cost $300 complete with a rechargeable battery pack. These are small, sealed, lead-gel batteries that give a range of 12 to 15 miles per charge, depending on how much you pedal. The batteries are not the spontaneous, self-immolating lithium units you see exploding.

“Electric bikes trend expensive. Most new e-bikes cost anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000. But with a few tools, you can take most standard 26-inch bikes and put an electric motor and battery pack or two on it. What’s best, after adding the kit, the bike retains the original pedal chain power and seven-speed freewheel cluster from your existing two-wheeler while adding electric power. A simple thumb throttle with a LED battery gauge controls the electric motor. Riders can pedal without using the motor or pedal along with the electric motor. Or you can chill and let the electric motor do all the work. The rear rack-mounted system adds about 25 pounds to my conventional bicycle.”