Light electric vehicles, such as electric bikes, mopeds, and scooters, can be viable transportation alternatives to a car. We interview Ben Luster from Ridepanda, who shares why these light electric vehicles will continue to grow in adoption and popularity over the next few years.
Light electric vehicles (LEVs), from scooters to bikes to mopeds, are growing in popularity in cities worldwide. Businesses have found different ways to serve consumers with these types of vehicles, whether it be through subscription services or shared mobility services, as different people have different needs when it comes to getting from A to B.
Ridepanda, for instance, understands that it can be more convenient for people to own a personal e-scooter, e-bike, or e-moped. As a marketplace for all types of light electric vehicles, Ridepanda makes it easy for users to find out which form is right for them. In this “lessons from” edition, we interview Ben Luster, Director of Sales at Ridepanda. Ben has spent almost a full two decades in the cycling industry, starting on the sales floor of a local bike shop to most recently launching Benno Bikes. Suffice to say, Ben loves cycling and is eager to bring bikes and other two-wheel forms of mobility to more people.
As light electric vehicles, how do e-bikes, e-mopeds, and e-scooters meet people’s transportation needs?
Our world faces massive challenges ranging from environmental and health issues to congested and polluted cities. However, what if I told you that these complicated problems have a simple and readily available solution in the form of light electric vehicles? E-bikes, e-scooters, and e-mopeds are better for our environment, better for our health, and better for our neighborhoods. They are clean, fun, quiet, and still up for the task of meeting actual transportation needs.
In fact, I’d argue that when it comes to Americans in particular, LEVs are better in many ways than “traditional” transportation. In the United States, we base so many of our decisions off convenience and speed. But being stuck in a traffic jam isn’t very convenient nor fast. Circling a neighborhood while attempting to find parking isn’t convenient nor fast. Waiting for a taxi or car share isn’t convenient nor fast. Grabbing your own light electric vehicle, avoiding rush hour, parking at the doorstep of your destination is very convenient and fast, and also much friendlier to the environment and your wallet. With so many form factors entering the market, there are endless options to meet your personal transportation needs while delivering an unrivaled experience.
To what extent do you think the current e-bike boom owes its success to the pandemic? Do you think this will this change after the pandemic? If so, how?
I believe the LEV boom was already well underway, but the pandemic served as fuel to the fire. Electric-powered rides already had great momentum due to their environmental friendliness, their efficiency when moving in an urban landscape, and their pure joy to ride. However, the pandemic offered one more reason to buy an LEV – a way to move about while remaining socially distanced and safe. It has been a tough year for us all, but we hope light electric vehicles act as a way for people to re-engage with the outdoors and explore their cities from a new perspective.
I don’t expect a slowdown of LEVs post-pandemic. I believe there is a cultural shift taking place that runs far deeper than just an activity to do during lockdown. Topics of personal health, the environment, and finding ways to move more efficiently aren’t going away, and thankfully are now being discussed more often. Individuals, corporations, and governments alike are taking this shift seriously, with hopes of making the world a better place for generations to come.
What is needed to further increase consumer adoption of using bikes and e-bikes?
Micromobility is off to a great start, but it’s far from where it could be. I think there are two major components that need to be addressed before we see widespread adoption. First, in the United States, we need to improve our infrastructure. Unlike our global friends, the United States is built around a car-centric mindset. This is changing quickly, but help at the local and federal level to improve bike lanes, offer sites for storing these LEVs, and even charging stations will go a long way to accelerating adoption.
The second component is education, and this is something we’re working hard to deliver at Ridepanda. The exponential growth of LEV demand brought some wonderful innovation and expansion to the supply side. However, with an explosion in vehicle options comes uncertainty and confusion. At Ridepanda, we’re solving this issue by creating a curated online experience where individuals can easily discover and purchase the right LEV for their unique use case, while also finding all the support and services (e.g. assembly, maintenance, roadside assistance, extended warranties, etc.) for their own peace of mind.
Is it possible to replace car trips with micromobility?
Absolutely! Most car trips are under five miles, well within striking distance of an e-scooter, e-moped, or e-bike. In fact, one of my favorite routines is dropping my daughter off at daycare, going to the grocery store, doing the shopping for the week, and then heading home. I do all of this from my e-bike and typically it takes me the same amount of time as driving a car. If I hit a traffic light in my car, the e-bike is actually faster. Moreover, there are the added benefits of exercise and the ability to park at the front door of your destination when completing your errands aboard an LEV. If convenience, speed, and the extra endorphins aren’t enough to get you riding, I can promise you there isn’t much in life better than watching the pure joy on your kid’s face as they explore the world with you on a light electric vehicle.
The key to all this is finding the right light electric vehicle for you. Someone in San Francisco, where a large motor to conquer the hills is needed, may choose something very different than someone in NYC who needs a lightweight, foldable option to take up five flights of stairs to their apartment. We encourage everyone that comes to our site to try our Ridefinder Quiz. We’ve designed an algorithm, with a human touch, that can help you find the perfect LEV. We hope someday everyone has the choice to either grab their car keys or their helmet, and more often than not we hope they choose their helmet.
Are there challenges to riding an electric-powered bike or scooter compared to a non-electric one?
Like anything in life, there are always challenges. Electric powered vehicles are no exception. Legislation feels like it changes daily, which alters where and how you can use an electric bike, electric scooter, or electric moped. Luckily, there are many amazing advocate groups working hard to standardize the process. As legislation and infrastructure improves, these challenges will begin to subside. Almost everyone we speak to feels safer on a light electric vehicle compared to their analog counterparts. Being able to ride with traffic, while focusing less on the pedaling and more on your surroundings, gives the rider the best opportunity to have an enjoyable experience.
We often hear there’s no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to choosing one mode over another. But if you were to choose either an e-bike, e-scooter, or e-moped, which would you choose and why?
You are correct, there is no one size fits all. I lived in the cycling world for over a decade, so I’ve always been the first to grab that flag and wave it proudly in the e-bike camp. However, I also have a very special place in my heart for e-scooters. Their convenience and fun factor are unbeatable. Lately, for shorter trips around town, I find myself skipping the e-bike and heading for the e-scooter. There is no doubt that e-mopeds also play a very important role in the micromobility movement. Unlike many other countries, e-mopeds haven’t grown as quickly in the United States as their e-bike/scooter counterparts, but for longer distances, comfort, or hauling loads, e-mopeds are a fantastic choice!
I encourage everyone to try a light electric vehicle. I think you’ll be surprised that a new and wonderful world awaits you. They’re a true enabler for a positive lifestyle change, as well as a simple way to solve many of the challenges that face society today. Happy riding!