Electric bikes, as many have discovered in recent years, are a highly convenient mode of transportation. They’re much cheaper than electric vehicles, faster than walking, and less physically arduous than riding a regular bike. And they don’t produce planet-warming pollution like cars do.
Now, it seems that e-bikes have caught on in a somewhat surprising place: Amish communities.
Although it is commonly believed that Amish communities eschew any type of technology that isn’t several centuries old, this is a misconception. In reality, there is no central Amish governing authority, and each individual community is allowed to make its own decisions about what type of technology it makes use of.
The official tourism site for Lancaster, Pennsylvania — home of numerous Amish communities — explains this nuance best.
“When a new technology comes along, its effect on the church and community is examined,” the tourism site states. “The technology should not be an intrusion into the home, but rather serve the social purposes and goals of the group. With that in mind, the Amish often re-purpose the technology, in a sense, to align with their community beliefs.”
In the case of e-bikes, several churches have now decided that the benefits outweigh the costs.
“It’s a lot quicker to jump on your bike and go into town than it is to bring your horse into the barn, harness it to the buggy, and go,” David Mullett, a member of the Old Order Amish Church and owner of an e-bike shop in Ohio, told the blog This E-Bike Life.
Generally speaking, Amish communities are most likely to avoid a new technology if they believe that it will make them too reliant on the outside world. This has also led some of them to make use of electricity derived from solar panels, which they can own and maintain. The e-bikes, as well, can often be charged by small solar panels.
Mullett’s e-bike shop is powered by two dozen solar panels on its roof and is entirely off-grid.
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