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The use of electric bikes is up in Central Otago and there is nothing lazy or untoward about it, cycle trail operators say.
"If you're out there and you're riding a bike when you otherwise wouldn't have been able to, it's not cheating,'' Bike It Now co-owner Duncan Randall said. "It's got to be a good thing.''
The electric cycles, or e-bikes, had been well received on the Otago Central Rail Trail and their use was increasing, Mr Randall said.
E-bikes not exceeding 300W have been permitted on the rail trail since a rule change in mid-2015.
Before that, e-bikes were not permitted on the trail as they had been considered "vehicles'', although some cyclists were still using them.
E-bikes now make up 10% of Bike It Now's 150-strong fleet and the Clyde business has also sold 100 e-bikes this summer.
Trail Journeys manager Shayne O'Connor said e-bikes were ideal for people who either did not have the fitness levels to cycle on a conventional bike, or had medical issues.
"It takes the hard work out of it and it makes it more manageable for people of lesser ability.''
He did not have figures for the numbers of those who used e-bikes, but said they fitted well into the "leisure bikes'' category the main demographic using the trail wanted.
Mr O'Connor said he understood that in European cities and cycle trails, e-bikes made up about 50% of cycles used.
He did not expect it would reach that proportion in New Zealand, as both locals and visitors were "fairly adventurous'', but predicted e-bikes could eventually make up about 20% of bikes used on the rail trail.
Shebikeshebikes owner Steve Goodlass said e-bikes were "pedal assisted'' and people still needed to pedal. Bikes generally had several settings altering how much pedalling was needed.
He said the increase of e-bikes was an "entirely positive thing'' that opened cycling up to more people.
"Before, you could have a situation where one person is a cyclist and another is not and then feel awful because they're holding the rest of the group up. This evens up the playing field.''
Otago Central Rail Trail chairwoman Kate Wilson said no complaints had been received from other trail users about e-bikes, and she expected use of them to keep increasing.