And it Keeps Getting Better and Better

What a year! 2019 will go down as the largest single-year gain in sales volume…ever!

The Voltaire Cycles pilot store in Verona New Jersey is about to announce a 100% gain over the previous year’s sales revenue. For the first time in its history, the little 980 sq ft. store exceeded 1 million in gross sales and continues to maintain this record-breaking pace!

This new reality has prompted us to ask what’s changed from previous years’ record sales?

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We have identified at least 3 areas of change that prompted this year’s unprecedented surge. Specifically: State legislation in our home state passed in early May of this year legalizing the sales and use of light-electric vehicles along all public roadways where bicycles are permitted; 2. A much more favorable opinion of personal electric vehicles by community leaders, planners, and commuters;  3. Our newly expanded product catalog, which now includes complete replacement parts and accessories for our biggest brand sellers. The Voltaire Cycles catalog is the most comprehensive catalog for LEV to date and attracts tens of thousands of visitors each week. You can visit the pilot shop’s website at www.electricspokes.com to gain a new perspective on how our catalog is expanding. https://voltairefranchises.com/

The year 2020 will undoubtedly begin where 2019 left-off. Colorado’s first Voltaire Cycles franchise is in the final stages of build-out and will be open by the 2nd or 3rd week of January. In spite of the store’s building delays (due to an unusual backup of permit requests at the municipal building department), their Voltaire Cycles website has been attracting visitors far and wide and has also made a few big-ticket item sales.

We are extremely excited to announce some changes to our FDD for 2020 and as well – the addition of our first Oregon franchise which is slated to open in the second quarter of 2020. Our new franchise partner is now scouting property locations in his hometown of Bend –  which is a mecca for outdoor adventure sports. A big focus of this particular new Voltaire Cycles franchise will be on the high-powered off-roading vehicle market. We are extremely excited to be experimenting on some of the upper limits of power and speed and how that might play on our catalog of vehicles and resources.

With the continued presence of PEVs at all levels of community transit, we’ve seen a pronounced increase in police department interest – either in purchasing their own vehicles for patrol duties or in discussing strategic partnerships. Several municipalities here in New Jersey have adopted the e-scooter as their principal neighbor patrolling vehicle.  This has prompted us to look at newer suppliers for accessories and replacement parts which will eventually become necessary in order to support municipal fleets of these vehicles. Website visitor traffic and phone calls from municipalities submitting RFPs have increased dramatically in the last quarter of 2019. This market could become a goldmine for franchise owners if they so choose.https://voltairefranchises.com/

So put on your riding gear, buckle up that helmet,  and prepare yourself for the ride of a lifetime. Voltaire Cycles is carving itself a large piece of the pie in this new era of micro-mobility. I know from personal experience that nothing good or worth having comes without considerable cost and a lot of hard work. Each Voltaire Cycles Franchise has the potential to develop into a mega-store generating millions in revenue for its owners. But attaining this holy grail of business goals will often test you in ways you would never expect. It’s usually that way with any venture.

We chose this path – for the adventure; for the thrill of the hunt; for the extreme highs and the occasional lows; for the endless parade of problems that plague any business; for the high-fives and giant grins;  and for each new partnership that develops around each corner.  Being a part of a new industry, helping riders achieve better health while contributing to a more sustainable future makes this journey almost too good to be true.

Stay true to your vision, don’t let any setback completely derail your quest, and keep reaching for that holy grail – whatever that grail may represent.

Ride on, Ride fast, Ride free,

To learn more about Voltaire Cycles Franchise offerings, visit us at www.voltairefranchises.com 

 

     

What’s good for the Goose..?

www.nytimes.com/2019/12/26/nyregion/Ebikes-scooters-Bill-ny.html

So, it seems that there is some funny business going on with the New York Legislation for eBikes and Scooters again. What? Safety measures inexplicably deleted from the final bill? Of course Gov. Cuomo vetoed it- safety is the whole purpose of the proposed law and someone worked hard to get the helmet requirements deleted.

So here’s my question to you: why would a safety provision, like mandatory helmet requirements for scooter rentals, be removed from a bill making these eMobility vehicles legal to own and operate in New York?

Think about it- you know the answer. If you want to do something about it, let us know!

We Have Arrived

Jennifer Finney Boylan Nails It

And in Maine of all places- perhaps one of the best biking places in the world. Please have a quick look at this fabulous article published yesterday in the Opinion section of the NYT:

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Jennifer Finney Boylan

“How an E-Bike Changed My Life”

If you have the time, be sure to read a few of the comments on the Times Blog- they will confirm what we know is happening: the eBike Revolution. It’s here to stay.

Jennifer describes what we are all learning: not only do eBikes get folks back out on the roads and trails, they serve as a vehicle for health and well-being. And eBikes can help a lot of us hang on to life for a little longer and a little better.

Here are some examples:

lisahoro from Hailey, Idaho:

Way too much judgement in these comments in my opinion. I have been mountain biking with the same group of women for 25 years. We are all now around 60: 10 years ago I was diagnosed with a heart condition that made it next to impossible for me to keep up aerobically. I thought I was done with the group and my husband gave me an ebike for my birthday 2 years ago. Wow: I can ride with my friends again! I am not surging up any hills running people over: I am riding in a group of women (6 to 8) all in our 60’s. A sport I have loved for so many years is now accessible to me again. Unfortunately, these bikes are misunderstood, and not allowed on many trails where I live. I remember well when mountain bikes first were designed with shocks and my friends at the Forest Service were convinced all trails in the mountains would be ruined by these shocks on mtn bikes. Guess what: they weren’t. E-bikes are another evolution in the design of bicycles and lets not keep our heads in the sand as our population ages- people out recreating is better than not. Get off your high horse about what you can do at your age. I wish I could, but I am doing my best.

Rich from Temecula:

I’m 56, an experienced cyclist, who bought a trek verve ebike last year for my 20 mile r/t hilly commute. I simply could not reliably do it every day by regular bike. However with my Bosch mid drive motor I can definitely do it every day, even if I’m feeling tuckered out by life or work. And it is definitely exercise, maybe easier, but plenty heart pumping. Ebikes are amazing. Mine replaced a car.

Julie from Cleveland Heights, Ohio:

In my mid 50’s I’ve only been cycling for three years. Several of the cyclists with whom I ride have been riding for decades. As many of them have aged into their 70’s and even into their 80’s they reluctantly purchased ebikes only to revel ecstatically in their athletic prowess of keeping up with us “youngins.” One gentleman gave up his regular bike at the age of 85 and now at the age of 88 paces us to an average of 18 mph over 2000 feet of climbing over 50 mile rides. Though a man of few words he smiles widely when we acknowledge him at the end of an arduous ride. Technology can be beautiful.

And be sure to read some of the negative or fearful comments- mostly related to safety and speed, but some challenge the health benefits of eBikes compared to traditional “human powered” bikes.

Of course, eBikes are “human powered” too- just ride one to find out-  you’ll see!

When you are ready- we are here for you.

IMG_1500 (1) Voltaire Cycles Franchises

Safety First

www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/nyregion/electric-scooters-new-york.html

it is beginning to look like these scooter fleets simply cannot offer the same safety and support that ownership does. It would be interesting to compare the number of accidents and injuries for rental fleet scooters to the number if accidents and injuries occurring on scooters actually owned and maintained by the rider.

My very un-scientific guess is that scooter for scooter, the injuries and accidents are much less. There are a few things ownership offers that large scooter fleet rental does not. And just like how one thinks of and treats a rental car compared to a car owned and operated by the driver, (c’mon now… we all have had that mind-set, even if only for a moment) we just don’t take on a lot of personal responsibility when the consequences are less.

This is why these scooters are being outlawed in city after city and state after state. In fact, this became a major sticking point in the passage of our recent New Jersey eBike law: eBikes okay- scooters… not so much. In fact, the implementation of these scooter fleets, most recently in Hoboken NJ, were quickly becoming the reason that our eBike legislation was becoming too “heavy” to get through the legislature and on to the the Governor’s desk.

But… thanks to our wise and dedicated legislature, we can now ride eBikes without fear of being “illegal” in New Jersey. Scooters? Well… stay tuned.

If you actually own one, you are probably going to be just fine.

The Shape of Things to Come

Copenhagen shows us how we will save our planet

We have been saying something for a few years now: “Europe is ten years ahead of sustainable energy development than the U.S.

Please have a look at this very informative NY Times article on what the folks in Denmark are doing to reduce carbon emissions in Copenhagen. You may be puzzled that they are continuing to address climate change in light of what the U.S. has been doing recently to re-vamp our country’s reliance on coal and other fossil fuels.

Bottom line is that we all are responsible for a healthy planet, despite economic and political differences. After all, what good is a robust economy if we can’t get outside to enjoy it? Since our current administration has chosen to prioritize fossil fuel energy over renewable and sustainable energy, it is important to see what the rest of the world is doing to prepare for the future.

Enjoy!

So, what’s going on now with the Electric Bike Laws in New Jersey?

Last year, we were watching the New Jersey electric bicycle legislation grow and develop and are very happy to see that things have been coming along nicely.

If you got to read my past posts on this law, you saw that the bill was in committee last term and stayed there as the session ended. Fortunately, the bill was reintroduced as A 1810 in the current term and has made some amazing progress.

On January 31, 2019, A1810 was amended once again and adopted unanimously by the committee thank to the great work of many legislators, including one of our favorites, Asmb. Gordon Johnson. This means that as of the date of this posting, the bill can be presented to the full assembly for a vote and I would expect it to pass with flying colors.

It’s not perfect- the bill does not include an important group of eBikes that can go between 20 and 28 mph assisted:

“The amendments also provide that any electric bicycle with a motor that is capable of propelling the bicycle in excess of 20 miles per hour with a maximum motor-powered speed of no more than 28 miles per hour on a flat surface is to be treated under State law as a motorized bicycle, commonly referred to as a moped.”

In 2017, we offered a substitute for this legislation to Assemblyman Tim Eustace that we believed solved all the safety and regulatory concerns. Here is our draft legislation. A4663 ESC Draft Amendments

Our bill did not adopt the People for Bikes Model legislation for a number of reasons. Assemblyman Eustace was most concerned, and rightly so, with supporting the large number of cyclists in the Garden State who were active members of People for Bikes. A very good choice on his part and we agree. There are many benefits to the PFB Model eBike laws, perhaps the biggest one being: they provide a legal framework and structure for the adoption of eBike laws similar to the Federal eBike laws and laws in many states in the Nation. They make them legal to own and operate, subject to local laws and regulations.

And that’s what is happening here in New Jersey.

The next steps now for A1810 are for the Senate to adopt the Assembly version present it for a full vote and if it passes there, the bill goes to Governor Murphy’s desk to be signed into law. This could certainly happen this legislative term.

Here’s the good news already:

The good news is that the bill makes just about every kind of eBike out there legal to operate in New Jersey, subject to local laws and restrictions. So, if you are hesitating to purchase that eBike you have been longing for, you are in good shape if you are concerned that a law will come along that will make your new eBike somehow illegal.

What’s that you say… you would feel better with a guarantee? That’s a lot of money to spend on an eBike- what if I can’t ride it because it is against the law? Well, eBike shops could not guarantee the outcome of legislation, just like they cannot guarantee that their customers will all safely and legally operate their eBikes in the State. In fact, no eBike shop anywhere could offer a guarantee that local laws and conditions will not impact on the operation of electric bicycles.

But wait… why can’t I get a copy of the local New Jersey laws that show me that these things are legal?

There simply is no provision in the New Jersey Laws that makes eBikes legal or illegal. Right now, they are defined as motor vehicles in the state statutes. This is why we are happy to see A1810 moving along nicely. For a law to be legal and effective it must be enforceable, among many other things.

I occasionally get stories about folks who have contacted their local police department to ask the question and are told that eBikes are illegal in New Jersey. Well, if you accept the current law as valid, you would have to register, license and insure your eBike as a motor vehicle in New Jersey, right? But… you could not do that even if you tried, nor could the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Interestingly, I also get a few stories from folks who have contacted the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles directly to ask if they are legal and how they can get them registered and inspected. I am informed that a DMV representative tells them that the eBikes are illegal and they cannot be registered or inspected as motor vehicles. Unenforceable. No provision in the laws or regulations to register or inspect eBikes as motor vehicles.

But wait… People for Bikes is very clear: “…Therefore, riding an electric bicycle in New Jersey is illegal.”

Our valued partners, People for Bikes have done some incredibly important work on eBike legislation in the U.S. Their Model eBike Laws have been adopted in many states and they are hard at work in states like New Jersey to advance eBike safety and development.

Here’s what they say about the current legality of eBikes in New Jersey:

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This is one good reason we are quite happy to see A1810 moving closer to becoming law. It means the eBike you are thinking of buying will not only enjoy specific language in our laws defining it but it will never be subject to the same regulatory requirements that operating cars, trucks and busses are. No registration, no insurance, no operating license. Just like in the majority of states in the country. They are not now and will not be in the near future.

But I have heard about all the problems they have in New York- aren’t they illegal there too?!!

They certainly were, at least in Manhattan Borough, but all that has changed.

If you care enough…

Last year, we were very pleased to learn that the premiere bicycle trade organization, People for Bikes, has made significant strides in New Jersey through lobbying efforts and support, to secure the passage of this important legislation.

If the current state of the laws here in the Garden State is the only thing between you and your new eBike, and you want to do something about it, I urge you to contact People for Bikes through their legislative action website here. We were informed by Alex at last year’s Interbike Conference they have retained a lobbying firm here in New Jersey and your contacts and questions will be very helpful to them.

And you will get the unique pleasure of being involved with an important and planet-saving cause: the proliferation of zero-emission transportation alternatives. Not to mention riding that new eBike with an even bigger smile on your face.

If you are looking for a reason NOT to buy an eBike this year, this could certainly be one of them. But you would be one of the few still wishing while everyone else is out riding.

I will be happy to respond to comments and questions here in this blog- please feel free to contribute and perhaps we can ease some of your fears.

 

A Bloody Mess

(v – u)/t = Tort Liability!

I was afraid of this… it was almost predictable: The laws of physics being what they are, when we have a body, particularly a human body, being propelled through space at maybe 20 mph and interacting with stationary objects we get… Tort Liability!

Check this out:

The following excerpt is from a very fine Bloomberg article and links you to the full text:

(Bloomberg) — A lawsuit targeting electric scooter-sharing companies seizes on the dangers of zipping around town on two wheels and brings gory detail to one of the more polarizing technology trends to emerge over the last year.

Nine people who were injured by electric scooters filed the class-action suit on Oct. 19 in Los Angeles County Superior Court. It accuses startups Bird Rides Inc. and Lime — as well as their manufacturers Xiaomi Corp. and Segway Inc. — of gross negligence, claiming the companies knew the scooters were dangerous and deployed them in a way that was certain to cause injuries.

I am most amazed at the revenue reaped from renting out these little devils all over the place: Bird and Lime are now two of the youngest startups to earn unicorn status in Silicon Valley with valuations of $2 billion and $3 billion or more, respectively. (Olivia Carville) Wow. Double wow.

Well, the greater the risk, the greater the reward, right? So, it’s going to be a whopper of a class-action lawsuit with big bucks, jobs and reputations at stake. One thing’s for sure- the CEOs of those companies are courageous folks. Considering the wealth created in such a short time, this is also one for the books.

In a previous post, I commented on the negatives of the Uber-like approach these companies have used very successfully to both create and position the scooter rental market. If these companies “asked permission first” we would not have seen such a meteoric rise which is, in many ways, just beginning.

Some consider the legal liability incurred to be an unfortunate but necessary part of the development of this industry. Same things happened in the development of the automobile industry (think Ford Pinto) and now we have… liability insurance. And safety. And really expensive cars.

A sure sign that scooters have gone mainstream and, just like automobiles, they are here to stay. Unless, of course, the outcome of the class-action lawsuit changes that “Dollar To Start” to “Three, Four or More Dollars To Start.” Maybe not so many scooters dotting the neighborhood then.

Good thing they rented out enough scooters to get over $5 billion in the bank.

But the good news is, very soon, as battery technology goes to the next generation, we will see scooters with a range of more than 20 miles on one charge, are heavy-duty and will be light enough to fold into a back pack. A game-changer.

I’m going to want to own one of those, for sure. You?


(Regarding the formula in the title above, and for those of you who, like me, slept through Physics, deceleration, or decrease in speed, can be calculated using multiple different formulas, depending on the available parameters. Some deceleration formulas include a = (v – u)/t, and a = (v^2 – u^2) / (2s). For humans and other creatures, it’s often not a good outcome. But it sure can be fun!)