Are ‘Disabled’ People Who Ride E-Bikes Just Lazy?

Words Dave Tolnai
Date Aug 8, 2016

Let’s start with some happy thoughts. On my way in to work today, the CBC told me that the City of Nanaimo is working towards creating a bike park that will be named in honour of Stevie Smith. This sounds pretty awesome. The Steve Smith Legacy Fund is involved, so donations there will probably help make this a reality. You should think about making one. (note – one way is to pick up some #longlivechainsaw and Stevie Smith decals from our online store. We have already donated $2500 to the fund thanks to our readers’ generosity. -Ed.)

Now on to our regular shit sandwich.

Dear Dave,

Not sure if you can answer this but why do you believe people defend ebikes with “It helps them (ebikers) get on the trail or else they could not been able to”, just because they are a bit out of shape or older yet still physically capable riders?

Here comes the rant:

There are people disabled or amputees handcycling up hills and trails without any electric assistance or motor of any sort, just arm rowing.

Ive seen several other reasons such as:

“Well I only have one lung” or ” I have a breathing problem” well buddy a dust storm might kill you on that trail or even being downwind in the midst of spring in a pollen hell hole.

Well my knees hurt due to (insert surgery/ joint problem)” well buddy I broke my collar bone and guess what? I couldn’t ride for a while. Tough luck, I found new hobbies.

One if my buddies is over weight and struggles but that was his propose on buying a mountain bike, to exercise and lose weight. He was the one that got me into mountain biking. Now I am more advanced than him but I never drop him if I ride with him, I know what type of riding we will be doing and I have no problem with this.

Are these people really in need of electric assistant on trails?

Seems like more pure lazy convenience as time goes by.

Onecrazypedaler


Dear Punctuation Mishap:

I feel like a crazy tactic has started to drift into any difficult political discussion. A group will scramble around to find one little fact that sounds unassailable and alludes to a moral high ground that can be used to justify their position.

Well Golly! Women can’t just be havin’ abortions any old place. What we need is hospital style clinics so thick with regulations that none of them can actually exist in the real world! It’s all about safety! You want safety, don’t you?

Jimminy crickets! We can’t have people votin’ without proper identification! Think of the sanctity of the electoral process! You want fair elections, don’t you?

What do you even call this argument/logical fallacy. The reverse strawman? The sacred cow? You can see where this idea came from. Nobody can have a problem with somebody with a physical impediment using an e-bike so why not use that as the entire justification for their existence?

But the people on the other side of this aren’t much better. Their argument tends to go something like “Fine. If you’re okay with nobody riding a mountain bike anywhere, ever, you should feel free to ride your motorbike* across an alpine meadow in the middle of the wilderness while scarin’ bears, hikers and orphans.”

Or the ever popular (so popular, you alluded to it in your question) “I guess if you’re some kind of half-man who needs a motor to help you ride up a hill, those e-bikes must sound awfully appealing. A true mountain biker would never use somethin’ like that, but I guess we can’t all be true mountain bikers. Plus, I was able to use all the money that I saved by not putting a motor on my bicycle to put a lift kit in my pick-up truck.”

Why can’t we just talk about e-bikes without getting into silly arguments and name calling? Can we agree that even an incredibly well-crafted insult will do little to bring the other side around to your point of view? Might it be possible that there exists a world where e-bikes are okay in some places, not okay in others? And maybe even decide that not all of the people that use them are sexual degenerates and lowlifes and have just figured out that an e-bike is a tool that works for them? I know. This is a crazy idea.

Sorry,
Uncle Dave


*This is another great modern tactic. If you can just put a label on something that sounds really bad, and if you keep using it, people are bound to see the genius in your viewpoints. Just keep calling e-bikes “motorbikes”, because those things are totally the same as a CR450 and this makes total sense. And if you keep calling her “Killary” or “Shillary”, people will totally see that you’re a political mastermind and Drumpf is going to win in a landslide.

Once again, Uncle Dave is running a little light on useful questions. I’d love to build the question sack back up, and it seems like you people need a little friendly reminder every once in a while. And remember. We’re generally not super impressed by your awe-inspiring wit.

Editor’s note – our use of the word “disabled” in the title is a quotation from the question. It’s not a term we use in reference to those whose abilities differ from the mainstream, because isn’t that true of all of us?


Onecrazypedaler – as compensation for the smackdown from Uncle Dave you win a Giro Truant Jersey and Short combo. Not so bad? You could wear them on your ebike.

giro_turant_jersey_short

New Truant apparel from Giro. Some sophistication and style for your offroad adventures. Ink not included.

Do you have a question for Uncle Dave? Make it good and send it here…


I’m sure none of you have opinions on ebikes…

Trending on NSMB

Comments

dave-evad
0
Dave Evad  - Aug. 11, 2016, 5:52 p.m.

Why should anyone give a single F as to why, how, or what another person rides? STFU and leave people alone.

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brente
0
brente  - Aug. 11, 2016, 3:55 p.m.

It's simple really they are motor bikes and as such do not belong on mountain bike trails let them go run on the motor bike trails. The rest of the argument is just self justification of their desires.

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cerealkilla_
0
jdt  - Aug. 10, 2016, 9:48 a.m.

No. They are not. But the DBs that use disabled people's rights as a prop to advance their own desire for throttle-twisting are a bunch of lazy vulturous hacks. There still has been NO explanation from the e-bike advocates as to how to mitigate trail damage and reduce trail conflict. Throttle-twisters blasting up descent-trails, and heavier bikes laid into berms and ruts….we all know what this amounts to, and the people most focused on getting more speed and more laps on ebikes are NOT the ones out there building, maintaining, and contributing to trail advocacy.

Unfortunately, there is no way to distinguish people that want to ride e-bikes because they're too lazy to pedal, from those that actually need assistance to participate in the sport. And the former will shamelessly use the latter to advance their own selfish and lazy interests.

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nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - Aug. 10, 2016, 12:42 p.m.

"So certain are you?"

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cerealkilla_
0
jdt  - Aug. 10, 2016, 1:23 p.m.

Pretty darned certain. I mostly read about people "with friends" with disabilities, or people talking about them, and not actually voices of people with said disabilities that say they need an ebike to participate.
Meanwhile, no e-bike representation or pro-active contributions from e-bike makers to trails.
So, yeah, pretty darned certain.

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nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - Aug. 10, 2016, 1:26 p.m.

Sorry, stupid of me to put the question mark at the end there. I don't think Yoda was saying it as a question in Empire. I really did think you were certain right from the get go.

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cerealkilla_
0
jdt  - Aug. 10, 2016, 2:03 p.m.

Upvote for the yoda reference.

I would add that my fitness has gone from podium material in most races to back of the pack, gasping for breath on moderate climbs, and struggling to keep up with people 20 years older than me and 30 years younger (no exaggeration). I would classify my current health as problematic to put it mildly. Life has been hard the past few years.

Despite this, I have never thought for a second about getting (or "needing") an e-bike. Yes, that would help me keep up with my friends (some of whom I cannot ride with now), and yes it would help me access certain trails I cannot physically pedal to….but that is not some sort of right or entitlement that I claim. I am happy to ride the blues and shorter loops until I can (maybe hopefully) one day build the strength to get back to the pack or out to the alpine. Until then, I pedal, enjoy trails, and don't look for some quick and easy answer to give me a leg up on my current limitations. In reality, my current condition limits me to a smaller set of trails, and I accept that.

This discussion over ebikes for disabled people assumes that they are being deprived of some sort of rights by not permitting ebikes on trails intended for non-motorized use. It also suggests that they cannot get out there and ride without mechanical assistance. Really, I find it a gross co-optation of discussion about rights for disabled people. I doubt the ebike advocates trying to advance this position are equally vocal about ensuring there are enough handrails in bathrooms, ramps in buildings, and so forth. IMHO, this is convenient platform-stealing for personal gratification and, by industry, for corporate gain. If people can actually get out there (on an ebike) to access alpine trails and double-blacks, they can certainly access closer loops and easier trails without such assistance. There is a difference between ebikes used to get around, and ebikes being used for for the advanced trails that they are being marketed toward (6 inch travel front and back, extended battery range!). Shamelessly using the disabled as a means to advance a new product, to wedge in the ability to use motors on trails where motos and the like currently do not go, and to challenge current trail access arrangements seems like a cheap tactic that conflates rights with wants. If the rights of people with disabilities to enjoy the trails was truly an issue, we would be building more accessible trails, ensuring there are enough parking spots with elevated off-loading spots for modified bikes, and organizing more rides around people with limits….not just trying to find ways to justify using motors on the trails.

To be clear NB, not suggesting that is your aim, but it is my critique of the pro-ebike discourse.

Reply

ChampfT
0
Chris Cogsdil  - Aug. 10, 2016, 10:08 p.m.

My lower back is shot, and surgery won't fix it. It's for life, unless I'm lucky enough for it to get worse, then I can get surgery. I can ride difficult downhills just fine, with minimal consequences pain wise. I am only able to climb by concentrating on my posture and being vigilant about it. Once I get fatigued, my posture suffers and my pelvis tilts causing severe pain that lasts days or weeks after the ride. Being in shape helps prevent fatigue, but one of a million things in life or on the bike can prevent me from riding for weeks at a time and losing my hard earned fitness several times a year. I'm still riding under my own power for now, and only with prescription pain killers, but there will come a day when an electric assist bike will be my best, or only, option to continue mountain biking. I'm not lazy, and you're not better than me.
As much as you think people are being lazy, or opportunist "cheaters", you are behaving like a closed minded, judgmental elitist. Maybe you should just ride and let these people have their fun, even if they're having fun a slightly differently way than you.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - Aug. 10, 2016, 10:58 p.m.

I'm sorry I don't have time to do justice to the effort you put into your comment tonight. I appreciate you taking the time.

My quick thoughts are:
I bet there's more diversity in pro-e-bike rationales out there.

I agree that rationale is despicable.

I think your opinion seems a little too closely confined to an MTB perspective, but there's some justification for that.

I'm not bothered by folks who e-bike. No interest myself though.

I'll try to elaborate during my transit to work in the am.

Reply

nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - Aug. 11, 2016, 6:52 a.m.

Hmmm, I should try this brevity thing more often…I don't feel the need to add too much.

When I wrote that your perspective was perhaps a bit too MTB centric, I see the justification that these things have evolved from the bikes we ride and because of that will be used in a similar fashion on the same trails etc. Stepping back though, there's a couple of things to consider. Ebikes will likely differentiate from MTB as we know it. And, while we may superficially trails to be 'ours' or the builder's, they're not.

Fundamentally, even if someone is weak in constitution, they're free to do so. Really though, even for people with a normal range of abilities, I think choosing to ride an ebike could be based on something other than laziness.

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cerealkilla_
0
jdt  - Aug. 11, 2016, 8:10 a.m.

Sorry about your back. However, that doesn't excuse you from not reading and understanding things, and is not a license to put words in people's mouths. I never called YOU lazy, and didn't say I'm better. If you're going to respond to a comment, don't be a douche and reinterpret it to your convenience.

If DISABILITY is an issue, then trail access should be managed like other forms of access where special accommodations are required. We don't just let anyone race down the sidewalks on motorized scooters. If you have a clear challenge, sure go ahead. We have systems for that. But using the difficulties by some to sell scooters to people to race down the sidewalks is a garbage marketing tactic, or to have able-bodied people cite disabilities as a reason to motor down sidewalks is crap reasoning, and cooptation of a legitimate social issue. IF DISABILITY is really an issue, we would see a movement to secure recognition of ebikes for people with de facto disabilities as a means to ensure equal access to outdoor resources. I'm ALL for that. Instead, we see mass marketing of overweight powered up mountain bikes, for anyone and everyone that wants to hit the trails as hard as they want, with no regard for the impact, or implications for other user groups. Now that is selfish, and that is close minded.

As for your elitist comment- that's laughable. You didn't read the part about huffing and puffing on the blue runs.

You have offered nothing to this conversation than a continued attempt to mix "disability arguments" with "just ride and let these people have their fun" angles. Which one is it? Are we talking about accommodating people with physical challenges? Great, let's do that. But that doesn't mean cutting open all the trails for ebike use, without talking about the implications of lazy (there I said it) meatsacks, hooting and hollering down the trails on their overweight bikes, going up the down trails, and wreaking havoc on the current balance of peace among motorized-vs-nonmotorized activity that we have struggled to achieve. We have trails and areas that are currently designated for non-motorized use. We also have agreements among user groups and clubs to guide motorized users away from certain trails. When does one person's personal situation trumps all that work, and should we just cut it all open for you AND anyone else that want to ride an ebike? Really, I hope that is NOT your suggestion. Not sure, because you've mixed your points together a bit, and it's hard to tell.

This is not about "having fun in a slightly different way". This is about how do we accommodate truly disabled people, while simultaneously protecting trail access, preserving the trails themselves that have been hard to build and are increasingly hard to maintain, and preventing motorized-vs nonmotorized conflict. When I look at the pro-ebike arguments, I see lots of efforts to wiggle between the cracks of these issues and get more motors on more trails, regardless of the implications.

Reply

wacek-keepshack
0
Wacek Keepshack  - Aug. 9, 2016, 11:10 a.m.

Once I posted a series of long rants where I presented various ways of performing holocaust of E-bikers. Like public execution during Crankworx in Whistler, where e-bikers were hanged by the rib or by the chin under lift chairs and run for a full day. I rarely get so many upvotes.

MTB purists plan to solve the E-problem

1.Throw verbal hate at E-bikes
2….?
3.No E-bikes are being produced.

MTB is such a friendly community. Let's focus on the bright side, always end with the positive: all lifts in bike parks are running electric motors and downhillers are perfectly fine with that way of earning turns.

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Dirk
0
Dirk  - Aug. 9, 2016, 4 p.m.

Exactly.

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zigak
0
ZigaK  - Aug. 9, 2016, 2:02 a.m.

According to Mike Yard (I know, not the best source), the states that implement voter id laws actually see the increase in black/latino voting participation.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Aug. 9, 2016, 3:15 a.m.

I've seen a few references that that was proven to be the case in one poll, in one state, before the strictest new voting laws were adopted or, in other words, "100% true."

Saw this a while back and thought it was interesting if totally irrelevant to the discussion of not-solely-human-powered-bicycles for usages other than commuting, in a few specific cases for disabled people, but not necessarily always just for lazy people, because dudes "have figured out that [it] is a tool that works for them":

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Dirk
0
Dirk  - Aug. 9, 2016, 4:01 p.m.

Good link. Not sure if it completely counteracts the information that that guy heard from another guy who may or may not be on the Internet. But it's food for thought, at the very least.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Aug. 9, 2016, 4:57 p.m.

Meh, I'm getting used to living in a time when the identical information can be absolutely true and absolutely false at the same time. What's funny is some polls show that the vast majority of America is as dominantly sane as ever it's just the outliers keep getting louder, more concentrated, and more vitriolic. The average, middle ground voices just aren't heard above the simple sound bytes of dominant majorities in the age of mass media.

If you really want to influence public opinion what choice do you have but to stake an outlier opinion and yell as loudly as the other guy in hopes of a resultant middle ground you can both happily/unhappily live with.

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zigak
0
ZigaK  - Aug. 10, 2016, 1:49 a.m.

First let me apologize for assuming you know who Mike Yard is. He is a corespondent on the Nightly Show, which is a black spin off from The Daily Show, hosted by a former black corespondent on the TDS Larry Wilmore. So a left leaning show, oriented on black audience, saying that - I think that's prety credible. On the other hand it's a comedy show, so not the best source.
You could also google "Mike Yard voter id", it is the first result that comes up.
http://www.cc.com/video-clips/y92822/the-nightly-show-with-larry-wilmore- pardon-the-integration--are-voter-identification-laws- racist-
Secondly let me apologize for nitpicking such a minor point in the story, but I guess it's my pet peeve some things get taken for granted, but if you think about it, they shouldn't. I'll post a separate post on e-bikes to make up for it. Hope it helps.

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