Some Thoughts on Sensible Transportation (Part II).

By Hank Ryan, Board Member and Immediate past Executive Director of Small Business California

There is today a growing world market for electric bikes and scooters. China leads the way with around 80% of the emission free two-wheeled vehicles manufactured worldwide in use there. Of course, the larger issue is that so many of those riders used to ride regular bikes and while the electric versions are cleaner than gas powered scooters, coal plants delivering that electricity are not.

cambodia electric bikeEven more challenging, most countries we have visited are also making the switch from pedal bikes to scooters and most of these are powered by gasoline. I recently stood at a ferry terminal in Bali watching the freight trucks line up for the crossing to Lombok, an island recently undeveloped but that is changing fast. Leading the charge is the addition of scooters and the truck I watched go by had what seemed to be hundred of new ones on board.

On a nearby island near Bali, we witnessed lines of school aged kids all on motor scooters. Gas is pretty cheap in Indonesia (under $2 per gallon), so I don’t imagine electric scooters or bikes will emerge anytime soon.

In Vietnam and Cambodia (gas costs around $4.25 / gallon), gas powered scooters are everywhere and, somehow, carrying things like four foot high refrigerators, six foot long pieces of glass and small trees. A few pedal powered enterprises still prevail, but not so many these days.

We did find one bright spot where not only are electric scooters abundant, but the evidence of beat up driven into the ground daily usage was clear. In Turkey, locally made electric two wheelers are clearly used on a daily basis. This is perhaps because the price of gasoline ($9.50 per gallon), in Turkey is higher than almost anywhere else in Europe.

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