Seattle-based outdoor retailer REI Co-op has announced plans to more than double its electric bike (e-bike) offering in 2019.
It has also announced a $110,000 (£84,600) grant to PeopleForBikes to help to create better access for bike riders across the USA.
The grant, to cycling advocacy organisation PeopleForBikes, is to support its Big Jump Project, which is helping 10 cities transform their bicycling infrastructure.
The funds will also support PeopleForBikes’ e-bike initiative. This project aims to clear up confusing e-bike laws that differ from trail to trail and from state to state. The organisation has developed uniform policies for e-bike access, which it is working to get adopted across the country.
“Pedal-assist e-bikes are tremendous fun and create greater access to more people who want to ride but experience physical barriers,” says Ben Johns, REI general merchandising manager.
“Whether it be distance, topography, physical limitation, or time, or stronger riding partners, these innovations are helping people overcome challenges and ride their bike more frequently.”
The co-op’s expanded offering of pedal-assist electric bicycles also includes electric mountain bikes. “We believe class-1 electric mountain bikes can help get more people outside and be integrated into the riding experience,” says Marc Berejka, REI’s director of government affairs.
“We urge advocates to help educate local leaders to recognise these bikes can be managed in a sustainable way for both the environment and other trail users.”
REI’s announcements are part of a series of cycling investments planned for this year, which also include investing in premium cycle brands like Bontrager; growing its bicycle rental programme in 115 stores nationwide; piloting a bike trade in programme; adding full-suspension bikes and offering cycling trips around the world through its adventure travel company.
REI lays claim to being the USA’s largest consumer co-op, with 154 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia, as well as online at REI.com, and REI Outlet – and a free REI shopping app. It also has an active adventure travel company that runs more than 250 itineraries across all continents.