By Emily Haines Lloyd

When you think of the many human milestones, there are an interesting amount that revolve around mobility. A baby rolls over, crawls, and finally walks. A teenager takes the car out for a spin for the first time. The inaugural trip on a bus, train, or plane, watching the world become both bigger and smaller. These moments shape our connection to the world.

There’s a new and electrifying addition to these monumental experiences—a person’s first ride on an e-bike. Bikes are often a child’s first taste of freedom. Just like when the training wheels come off a bicycle, the experience of an e-bike can be not only fun but also liberating.

One E-Bike Is Not Like the Other

There are three categories that most e-bikes fall into. With the first, pedal assist, riders are given a motorized boost, like an invisible hand is pushing them forward. The second, a throttle, allows the rider to zoom around at up to 20 miles per hour without pedaling; this is a common option for delivery drivers and couriers. And the last is a faster pedal assist, allowing speeds of at least 28 mph. Regardless ofthe category, e-bikes are bringing the delight of cycling toa larger audience.

“My e-bike gets me out and makes me feel young,” said Great Lakes Energy member Beth Guntzviller. “I get a huge smile on my face when I hop on.”

A Greener Ride

As a growing number of manufacturers roll out a diverse array of e-bikes, Michigan is experiencing a surge in the adoption of these eco-friendly transports. E-bikes have the ability to replace traditional cars for shorter commutes and errand running.

Within the e-bike movement is the profound impact it has on individuals, like Great Lakes Energy member Nancy Peterson, who attests to the transformative experience. “My e-bike gets me to places on Beaver Island that I usually would not see, so I love it,” she said.

This highlights that, in addition to offering environmental responsibility, e-bikes serve as a catalyst for bringing people closer to nature, enabling them to explore and appreciate the outdoors in ways they might not have otherwise experienced.

Inclusivity Redefined: E-Bikes for All Abilities

Beyond their environmental benefits, e-bikes have emerged as a symbol of inclusivity, breaking down barriers for individuals with varying physical abilities.

“As seniors, we have a lot of medical issues—knee replacements, bad heart, arthritis, and a few extra pounds, just to mention a few,” said Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member Debbie Artrip. “But our e-bikes have opened up a whole new world for us. They give us the mobility we could have never gotten out of a traditional bike.” Debbie and her partner Don got their e-bikes in 2023and have already put more than 1,500 miles on them.

Unlike regular bikes, the electric assistance e-bikes provide makes cycling accessible to a broader demographic. This inclusivity is a game changer, allowing those who may face physical limitations to experience the joy and freedom of bike riding.

“Every pedal rotation gives me a boost, but when I get tired, or up a steep hill, I can use the thumb throttle and just sit back and enjoy,” said Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member Donna Robillard, who has a heart condition. “I do not have to worry about going too far and physically not being able to get back because I am too tired. I can be out enjoying the wind, air, and nature with happiness in myheart as I am free.”

Navigating the Challenges

While e-bikes are a big hit, there are some bumps in the road, as policymakers determine just where e-bikes are allowed to go.

Great Lakes Energy member Bob Wilson was the executive director of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance several years ago and helped promote legislation that enabled e-bike use in various locations. There are specific laws and regulations for each e-bike category, so it’s always a good idea to check guidelines before hitting your favorite trails.

As the electric wave continues to sweep across the state, e-bikes are not only providing a greener alternative but also ensuring that the joy and freedom of bike riding are accessible to all. The future holds exciting possibilities for a Michigan where e-bikes weave a tapestry of environmentally conscious and inclusively connected mobility.

Visit to learn more about riding e-bikes in Michigan.


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