E-bike day at the state Capitol Credit: Katie Cerulle photo

HARTFORD — Hartford bike shops and e-bike advocates gathered at the state Capitol Wednesday to host an E-Bike demonstration day.

The event was created to “highlight the benefits of E-Bikes as a sustainable, reliable, and enjoyable mode of transportation” according to a press release. 

The bikes are also part of SB 4, a bill that would reduce carbon emissions in the state by expanding public and private utilization of electric vehicles. In order to do this, the bill would give $500 vouchers to low-middle income residents to purchase an E-Bike that costs $3,000 or less.

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“For folks working from home or with short commutes, e-bikes are a valuable transportation option that cuts down sharply on gas costs and emissions,” Sen. WIll Haskell, co-chair of the Transportation Committee, said. 

In addition to their environmental benefit, E-Bikes are gaining popularity due to their speed and efficiency.  

Casey Dooley, from Trek Bicycle in Newington, said that some of the first Trek electric bikes to hit the market in 2001 were made for commuters, but the industry has grown into mountain bikes, road bikes, commuter bikes, and bikes simply for leisure. 

“E-Bikes are the fastest growing segment in biking right now,” Dooley said. 

Dooley also said that there are three classes of electric bikes currently on the market. Class 1 E-Bikes only offer pedal-assist propulsion, meaning the motor only engages when you turn the pedals. Class 2 bikes offer pedal-assist and throttle propulsion, so the motor can propel itself even when the rider is not pedaling. Finally, class 3 E-Bikes are the fastest on the market, with a max speed of 28 miles-per-hour. These also only offer pedal-assist propulsion, and cannot be ridden on bike paths due to their speed. 

Janelle Boratko from Suburban Sports in Berlin said that sales in E-Bikes have been steadily increasing over the last few years, and are great for people with back, knee, or hip injuries. 

“Sometimes when I ride my knees hurt, so having an electric is nice to assist people with injuries.” she said.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said in a press release that E-Bikes are a great way for commuters to get around, and the proposed vouchers in SB 4 would make them more accessible and affordable for all residents.

“As a City, we are committed to investing in bike infrastructure, and we are excited by this opportunity to keep Hartford cleaner and greener,” he said.