Winter may be coming, but e-bikes will be remaining on Montreal's streets

As Montrealers looked for distractions during the summer months of the COVID-19 pandemic, many turned to electric bikes as a way to get outside. But as the winter months loom forbodingly ahead, will their popularity continue?

Among the Montrealers who adopted e-bikes as a mode of transportation is Dave O'Shaunghnessy, who takes his from Dorval to his job at the Holand Showroom at the Decarie Circle each day.

“Obviously (I do it) for the fitness aspect of it and second, because there's a lot of traffic in the morning and even at night,” he said. “If there's traffic I can get home quicker. What do the guys at work say? They love it and everybody's tried it.”

Sacha Gosselin of Velofix said he's seen a clear increase in e-bike sales this year.

“Ultimately, instead of investing into a budget to vacation, they invested it in bikes,” he said.

The e-bikes do have their downsides. Magali Bebronne of Velo-Quebec warned riders of their higher speed and weight.

“We do get more complaints. Some people find that the equipment considered e-bikes are actually too fast, too heavy, too big and they don't feel comfortable sharing the bikes lanes with these kinds of devices,” she said.

Bebronne did say that e-bikes do offer a viable alternative to public transportation as social distancing remains a concern.

“People wary of taking public transit, for example, might want to consider extending their season longer than they usually would,” she said.

Aside from cycling through slush, winter offers other challenges for e-bike users: the cold weather makes it harder to hold a charge.

“What's worse for an electric bike, or any kind of bike, is the calcium they put on the road,” said Gosselin. “I've heard some mixed reviews about how the corrosion and road salt reacts to bicycles.” 

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