How E-bikes Are Changing The Way The UK CommutesMarch 4, 2023
As concerns about congestion, carbon and cost continue to grow, more and more people in the UK are ditching their cars and turning to cycling as an efficient, cheap and enjoyable way to get about. According to the Department of Transport, one in six of us are regular bike users, and with the Times’ popular CycleSafe campaign currently in the headlines, awareness of two-wheeled transport is at an all-time high.
But according to some, the world of cycling is about to change up a gear as more and more of those people who are cycling to work are turning to e-bikes with numbers increasing year on year.
But E-Bikes Are Not a New Thing
Although e-bikes have been around for a while, their true potential is only now becoming apparent. E-bike technology has come on leaps and bounds in the last two years or so. Now we’ve got batteries that can run for about 80 miles per charge, last four years and take over 1100 charges and they’re only about four to five kilogrammes heavier than a normal bike. The motor doesn’t replace pedal power but augments it – reducing toil for the rider and providing a welcome boost for steep hills, headwinds and long journeys. Basically, the e-bike is designed to flatten hills. It takes the hard part out of cycling, and reduces the fear of those steep climbs that can put people off making journeys by bike.’
E-bikes Are For Cheaters
But e-bikes aren’t just for lazy people who can’t be bothered to pedal. In fact, the exercise you get on an e-bike is steady and constant, which means it doesn’t strain the heart too much on hills – they are ideal for beginners or those who are not as fit as they once were. The extra power from the motor really opens up cycling to everyone – young, middling and older – at whatever fitness level.
What’s more, journeys that would seem Odyssean on a push bike become a breeze with the help of an electric motor. The average car journey is about six miles long and modern e-bikes now make it possible and realistic to cycle those kinds of distances, more often and more consistently. Yes, they really are a feasible form of transport even for longer journeys. In fact, while regular bike users travel about 15 miles a week on average, e-bike owners clock up five times that amount. We’ve found that people in rural locations like to use them too, often because they have very little public transport. If it’s 24 miles to the nearest shop, that’s a lot easier to do on an e-bike and it saves money and emissions compared to using your car.
More Environmentally Friendly Than You Think!
Environmentally, the e-bike’s credentials are hard to fault. After factoring in CO2 emissions produced during electricity generation, an e-bike’s carbon footprint is just 2.6 grams of CO2 per mile, compared to 150 grams for most electric cars and 136 grams for scooters. As well as saving on carbon, switching to an e-bike has indirect benefits as well. The biggest environmental contribution that the e-bike makes is as a replacement for your car. Of the millions of car journeys people do, 50 per cent are under three miles. So if we could eradicate people using their cars for short journeys, then we’d have fewer emissions, less congestion, and fewer cars on the road.
They might also save you time. The average speed of a car journey in London is below 10mph and less than 3mph in the city centre, but e-bikes can zip around clogged traffic with ease, and with a top speed of around 15mph, they’re a surprisingly speedy way to get around. And, because the bike’s doing most of the work for you, you’ll arrive at your destination looking fresh rather than hot and sweaty.
More Expensive, but Not Unobtainable
E-bikes are, of course, more expensive than a traditional cycle, but they need not break the bank. These days a good quality e-bike will cost you about £1000 but they are often covered by the Cycle-to-Work scheme, so if you’re commuting you can get a discount of up to 42%. And, in terms of running costs, it’s by far the cheapest form of motorised transport out there. E-bikes are far, far cheaper to run than a car. Petrol prices are going up and up but with an e-bike you don’t need to worry about that – recharging the battery costs about the same as boiling your kettle. You don’t need to worry about parking charges, you don’t need an MOT, there’s no tax, no congestion charge, and you don’t need to pay for a license. Nothing in life is free, but if you look at the savings in time, money and health from having an e-bike, you really can’t put a price on that.