SAN DIEGO — As more people become conscious of their carbon footprint while searching for a way to escape the monotony of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rising popularity of electric bicycles is giving people much needed escape.

When the pandemic hit, Jean Keane hopped on a trend that thousands of other people would also follow by getting an electric bike.

What You Need To Know

  • E-bike sales have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Most people cite health and environmental reasons as their motive for purchasing

  • The E-BIKE Act creates a consumer tax credit that covers 30% of the cost of the electric bicycle, up to a $1,500 credit

  • Aventon Ebikes reported a 301% website sales increase in the Los Angeles area in 2021

“I use it for everything," Keane said. "I don’t even hardly ever drive my car anymore.”

Keane has ridden her e-bike up to 35 miles to meet clients and drop off paperwork for her real estate business.

"I originally bought the bike just to commute, and then I realized how awesome it was and how many uses for exercise, mental health, environment, just a whole gambit of things, and I just love it,” she said.

Debbe Simmons is the founder of Bicycle Warehouse, one of the nation’s top bicycle retailers. She says the pandemic rush for electric bikes broke all her store's records.

“In my 30 years of business, I saw the most of every day people come in like, 'Oh, I haven’t had a bike in years, I haven’t had a bike since I was little.' And we’re like, yay! You’re getting on a bike again,” Simmons said.

It’s a movement cities around the country are moving to support as sales soar. The city of San Diego installed six new bikeways and completed 100 miles of design of new bikeways in 2021.

"Spurred by the pandemic, more people are staying safe outdoors and exploring San Diego using different modes, including bikes, e-bikes and scooters," the City of San Diego said in a statement. "We want to continue that momentum and make San Diego roads safe and friendly for all our residents and visitors. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is crucial to achieving our Climate Action Plan goals and more San Diegans using active transportation will help us get there."

“It’s a win-win," Simmons said. "It’s a win for us, and it’s a win for the planet. It keeps us healthy, keeps the planet healthy."

According to Aventon Ebikes, its website sales increased 301% in the Los Angeles area and 235% in the San Diego area in 2021.

There are also new tax incentives, including the E-BIKE Act that would provide a tax credit of up to $1,500 to anyone who buys an e-bike.

What started as a way to get to work has now turned into a completely different lifestyle for Keane and her family, and she hopes many others take the time to explore it for themselves.

“It’s just easier," she said. "You don’t have to worry about parking, getting gas, and I get some exercise and feel the fresh air on my face and just have a really cool day.”