As the roads in the Silicon Valley get more and more congested thanks to our improved economy, towns like Menlo Park are looking for solutions to relieve some of the clogged roadways. One possible answer could be allowing electric bikes and motorized scooters to use existing bicycle lanes, paths and bridges.
California Assembly Bill AB-1096 has been passed by the State Assembly and is being considered by the State Senate. In a nutshell, this bill would allow electric bicycles to access all public paths with certain conditions regarding speed. This bill, in part, has caused people like Menlo Park Commissioner Michael Meyer to raise the idea of reducing the town’s traffic by allowing e-bikes and motorized scooters that go 20MPH or under to utilize bike bridges and paths in addition to bike lanes.
This could conceivably reduce the number of cars on the road if electric bikes and scooters were legally allowed access to public bike lanes, pathways and bike bridges. Electric bikes are booming in popularity in Europe and Asia as more environmentally sound transportation methods. The same could happen here if we would put down our car keys and embraced this 2-wheeled technology as a viable commuter option with its combination of fun, environmental friendliness and practicality (with e-bikes, you just switch on the motor to easily climb hills, headwinds and minimize fatigue).
Menlo Park is showing more forethought than most in this arena by opening up the discussion within its borders. Students could ride these vehicles to school versus driving or being dropped off in cars, people who need to run errands around town could hop on their e-bike rather than jumping into their mini van. Studies show that those in the baby boomer era are fans of e-bikes, wanting to ‘rekindle the (cycling) experience they had as a kid‘.
If this ordinance passes, Menlo Park might end up being a forerunner in promoting a viable, eco-friendly transportation trend in the Silicon Valley…and beyond.