Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends
Environment & Science

Are electric bikes the future for San Francisco?

File: A sign reads
File: A sign reads "one less car" on the back of a bicycle at an "energizer station" at San Francisco city hall where bicycle advocates handed out food and drink on Bike to Work Day May 14, 2009 in San Francisco.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Biking in Los Angeles is a precarious business. Given our city’s legendary traffic congestion, maneuvering L.A. on two wheels is definitely not for the faint of heart. Even our own Mayor Villaraigosa felt the unforgiving wrath of street traffic when a short-stopping taxi sent him crashing from his bike to the pavement and ultimately to the hospital with a broken elbow back in 2010.

Up north in San Francisco, biking is additionally challenging given the famously mountainous landscapes. A simple errand to the grocery store at the bottom of the hill can quickly become a much trickier return trip. But what if that bike was electric? It’s the question being asked a new federal grant that will introduce shared electric bikes to the city by the Bay to see if they could potentially help ease traffic congestion and have an environmentally positive impact.

According to the New York Times, the nonprofit organization City CarShare will receive $760,000 of a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration to integrate 90 electric bikes to their fleet of shared vehicles over the next two years.

“In 2001, City CarShare was launched by transportation visionaries as a Bay Area nonprofit with the goal to make our community a more livable place,” extols their website. “Carsharing means fewer cars on the road, less congestion, and less pollution.”

The overall goal of assessing the aforementioned impact of making the bikes available will be handled by the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at UC-Berkeley.