It’s Time To Think About Micromobility Charging Stations


The Federal government’s love affair with funding incentives for electric vehicle charging stations does not trickle down to e-bike or e-scooter users. The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program (NEVI) awarded Pennsylvania $175 million to install EV chargers along major roads throughout the state. That may seem like a lot but these large EV Charging Stations can cost up to $1+ million to install, compare those numbers to the cost of a Saris E-bike charging station/rack ($1,500 per unit). 

Range Anxiety also applies to E-bikes

Most E-bikes and E-scooters have a range between 15 and 50 miles on a single charge. However, the actual mileage may vary depending on factors like terrain, weather, riding surface, and pedal-assist level. Manufacturers often exaggerate the range of their products, so it’s best to plan your trip accordingly. For instance, if you plan on riding the Schuylkill River Trail from Philly to Pottstown, you may find yourself peddling hard or taking a long multi-modal SEPTA ride back.

Some people argue that there’s no need for e-bike charging stations because you can use any available 110V outlet to charge your bike using your charging brick. However, finding a public outlet that works can be challenging. You could ask a friendly coffee shop owner, but it’s not a reliable option for planning your trip. Instead, people often have to resort to finding a rare outdoor plug or hiding the battery in their backpack at a fast-food restaurant. If your bike frame or e-scooter has a secured battery, it can be even more challenging to charge your battery and secure your vehicle. Additionally, some buildings may restrict e-bike access due to concerns about battery fires. SEPTA forbids the charging of micromobility devices on its property.

Delivery Workers Need A Place To Safely Charge or Swap their Batteries

The Philadelphia Central Business District and its surrounding neighborhoods have a rich history of bicycle messengers and bicycle food delivery. In recent times, Philadelphia has become one of the few North American cities where e-bikes are the primary mode of app-based food delivery workers, also known as Deliveristas. Although the exact number of active working cyclists in the city is unknown, it is speculated to be a few hundred, which is much smaller compared to the 65,000 Deliveristas registered in New York City.

For Deliveristas to get through the day, it is crucial to have a safe place to charge or swap a battery. In response to poor working conditions and e-bike fires, New York City is piloting Deliverista Hubs throughout the city, with the first one proposed to be an unused newsstand at City Hall Park near the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge bikeway. These hubs will have a sheltered rest area, charging station, bike racks, and public restrooms nearby. Philadelphia should consider creating a similar facility, perhaps in the vicinity of City Hall or Rittenhouse Square.

While bike rooms in private office buildings may already be e-bike-ready, they could add battery charging stations with fireproof charging compartments.

On Long Distance Trails

Outside of cities, business districts and transit stations along long-distance trails are ripe candidates for e-bike/e-scooter charging stations. Locally an e-bike charging station may be included at the future Norristown Trail Junction Center which is at the Junction of the Chester Valley and Schuylkill River Trails just a few hundred feet from SEPTA’s Norristown Transportation Center. I often see on social media that charging while taking a one-hour lunch break period isn’t worth it. But even an hour of charging time will get you a bonus of 5 to 10 miles of range.

In the US Bikeep Smart Docks are being sold by Dero and Oonee

It Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

E-bikes are becoming more common in some Amish communities. However, the decision of whether or not to allow e-bikes is determined by individual congregations (they are not common in Lancaster County). Bikes are often charged at off-the-grid solar-powered stations, such as this one behind a sporting goods store in Holmes County, OH.

The state of Oregon has devised a cheap and simple solution to allow e-bikes and e-scooters to charge their batteries. They have added 110V outlets to all 47 of their West Coast Electric Highway Network Chargers. The cost of charging an e-bike or e-scooter battery from empty to full is less than 50 cents. We need to have a conversation with as many decision-makers as possible and urge them to make the public charging grid accessible to everyone, regardless of their mode of travel.

Top image: An EV charging station on the 60+ mile Pine Creek Rail Trail in North Central PA lacks an outlet to charge e-bikes.


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