Ask AI 003: Can E-bikes Make Cities Better?
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Ask AI 003: Can E-bikes Make Cities Better?

As Kuromon Market in Osaka was about to close for the evening I sampled some delicious king crab and did a final lap of the market when I stumbled upon one of the most Japanese scenes I could possibly imagine, a little girl, making friends with a robot.

In this column, we ask an advanced AI about one of the most pressing issues facing the e-mobility space: e-bikes in the city!

As the push for a more sustainable means of moving people and things around the built environment continues, e-bikes have become a bigger and bigger part of the conversation, painting a pretty convincing picture of how “the future of transportation” is going to look. And – unlike their bigger, four-wheeled electric brothers – is happening not because of political mandates, but because e-bikes make a ton of sense!

Consider that more than 50% of all car trips happen within 3 miles of people’s homes – a distance that may be a bit too much for many to practically walk, but one that’s a breeze to pedal to (especially with electrical assistance). Why, then, would we use the energy needed to push a 2 or 3-ton car there when a 60 lb. e-bike would do the job?

Wouldn’t that be more efficient? Wouldn’t that – dare we say it? – actually be better? In this, third edition of “Ask AI,” we asked an advanced AI how it thinks e-bikes might be used to improve the cities we live and work in … and this is what we got:

E-bikes can make cities better in several ways:

  1. Improved air quality: E-bikes emit less pollution compared to traditional gas-powered vehicles, leading to improved air quality in cities.
  2. Reduced traffic congestion: E-bikes are small and lightweight, which can reduce traffic congestion, especially during rush hour.
  3. Increased mobility: E-bikes offer a more affordable and environmentally friendly mode of transportation for people who live in cities and have limited mobility.
  4. Reduced carbon footprint: E-bikes have a much lower carbon footprint compared to traditional cars, reducing cities’ overall carbon footprint.
  5. Improved health: Using an e-bike as a means of transportation can increase physical activity, improve cardiovascular health and reduce obesity.
  6. Increased accessibility: E-bikes can make it easier for people to travel to work or other destinations in the city, improving accessibility and reducing the need for personal car ownership.

All fantastic points. It’s hard to not look forward to a reduction in pollution, carbon footprint, and traffic – but point “6” is interesting, because it might not be immediately obvious to people who don’t face challenges regarding access, and not just physical access but financial access, as well, since part of the push for e-bikes could be framed as reducing the need for everyone to own their own car. Let’s ask the AI about why it thinks that’s an important aspect of improved cities:

Reducing the need for personal car ownership is important for city improvement because it can lead to several benefits:

  1. Decreased traffic congestion: With fewer cars on the road, traffic congestion can be reduced, leading to less frustration and faster commutes.
  2. More public space: With fewer cars parked on the streets, there is more space for other uses, such as public parks, bike lanes, or sidewalks.
  3. Better air quality: Cars emit pollutants and greenhouse gases, which can contribute to poor air quality in cities. By reducing car usage, cities can see an improvement in air quality.
  4. Reduced noise pollution: Cars can also be a source of noise pollution in cities. By reducing car usage, cities can become quieter and more peaceful.
  5. Increased sustainability: Encouraging people to use e-bikes or other sustainable modes of transportation instead of cars can help reduce cities’ carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future.
  6. Improved public health: Walking, cycling, and other forms of physical activity are important for public health. By reducing car usage, cities can encourage more active transportation and promote healthier lifestyles.

OK, it mentions a lot of the same points, but this time point 2 is incredibly exciting! The AI mentions that with fewer cars parked on the streets, cities can use that space for other things. With fewer cars, the cities can become more walkable, more bike-able, have space for more businesses, parks, trees. In that light, it’s undeniable: e-bikes have the capacity to transform modern cities!

If it’s not immediately clear to you just how much city space has been ceded to the automobile over the last few decades, this tweet, from 2022, should help drive the point home.


What do you think? Did the AI miss anything? Are you excited to see how electrification continues to shape cities? Let us know in the comments!


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