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I think the argument e-bikes are positive because they get people out and doing stuff \[perhaps replacing car trips\] is problematic. I mean sure if people were riding e-bikes to replace a 20km car commute in hilly terrain that seems like a reasonable way to solve that problem. Mostly what I have seen is young guys on e-MTBs so they can avoid the pain of the climbs and middle aged folks cruising the railtrail grade bikepaths on the weekend.
Humans manage to spread out and develop most of the planet \[for better or worse\] largely on the basis of physical effort. Now if someone has 3kms between them and a taco they need a motor on their bike to help them get there? What's happened to us?
Industrial exoskeletons already exist so it's only a matter of time until the e-walker consumer model gets sold to help people walk down the street. Are we going to say "Well at least it gets people off the sofa and walking down the block to the 7-11 to buy a bag of chips. Are they getting as much exercise as if they walked by themselves? No, but it's something right? And now they can carry a family sized bag of chips without as much strain on their bodies."
It's a little sad that at the first sign of the potential of some effort/discomfort on the horizon we look for a way to use a motor.
Sorry I find it hard to get stoked about the topic.
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