Thomas Beller:

I grew up as a bike rider in Manhattan, and I also worked as a bike messenger, where I absorbed the spartan, libertarian, every-man-for-himself ethos: you need to get somewhere as fast as possible, and you did what you had to do in order to get there. The momentum you give is the momentum you get. Bike messengers were once faddish for their look, but it’s this feeling of solitude and self-reliance that is, along with the cult of momentum, the essential element of that profession. The city—with its dedicated lanes and greenways—is a bicycle nirvana compared with what it once was, and I have had to struggle to remake my bicycle life in this new world of good citizenship. And yet, immediately, there was something about electric bikes that offended me. On a bike, velocity is all. That guy on the electric bike speeding through the night was probably going to have to break hard at some point soon. If he wanted to pedal that fast to attain top speed on the Second Avenue hill that sloped down from the high Eighties, then it was his right to squander it. But he hadn’t worked to go that fast. And, after he braked—for a car, or a pedestrian, or a turn—he wouldn’t have to work to pick up speed again.