By DANIEL MCDERMON – New York Times
It’s a cliché in certain corners of the news media that a reporter needs to note three examples to report a story about a trend. The rule of three is often cited more in derision than admiration, but it seems to hold a certain amount of water. (For example, here, here and here. See how that works?)
So now it’s official: electric bicycles are a trend. Or, to be more exact, articles about electric bicycles are. The Times and The Wall Street Journal have both featured articles on the subject this week. Brad Stone, writing in the Ping column for the Sunday Business section of The Times, noted that Sanyo, an electronics giant, is selling a $2,300 bike with an electric motor, the Eneloop, suggesting that more companies may follow suit. The Journal’s Shai Oster, in a front-page article on Tuesday, cites growing turmoil over electric bikes in China.
Mr. Stone focused on a shift in the United States toward the use of bicycles as daily transportation, which, when combined with technical developments in batteries with extended range, has prompted several manufacturers to offer electric bicycles for sale. The Journal’s article focuses on the unforeseen consequences in China, where the increasing use of e-bikes has led to a perceived increase in accidents. Bikes with electric motors attached are often capable of speeds up to 20 miles an hour, faster than many traditional cyclists ride.
Meanwhile, one magazine is sponsoring a contest to find the best home-built electric bike, while The Irish Times also covered the Chinese market angle, and numerous blogs picked up on Sanyo’s presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The rule of three is, it seems, well met.
These articles come a couple of months after an item published in City Room by J. David Goodman, looking at the unclear legal status of e-bikes in New York. Before that, Wheels reported on a short test ride of one such bike, the Ultra Motors A2B Metro. So it seems that the media really have this particular trend covered. Which means just one thing: watch out for more.