Why electric bikes are going to lead the revolution

Electric bikes are the secret weapon that will transform travel habits in the UK. They are the perfect combination of cost and convenience, they’re good for people’s health and good for the environment. In ten years time, there could be as many as ten million e-bikes on the roads of the UK.

This revolution is already happening across Europe; now it is coming to the UK. The Prime Minister has unveiled his ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution. Elsewhere this week, the Government has announced a further £175 million tranche of funding for cycling infrastructure. We’ve also heard news of plans to introduce subsidies next year to help with the cost of buying e-bikes. All in all, it has been a good week for the UK’s environmental future.

Tom McPhail, director of public affairs at Pure Electric, said: “By 2030, there’ll be between 7.5 million and ten million e-bikes on the roads of the UK. Other vehicles such as electric cars and electric scooters will make an important difference, as will better public transport, but it is e-bikes that are going to be the absolute game changer in UK transport.

“Electric bikes are going to make our towns, cities and villages nicer places in which to live and work. They’re going to improve people’s health and they’re going to help tackle the climate crisis.”

Why e-bikes will transform the UK’s travel habits:

1. They’re environmentally-friendly (incredibly so)
According to research conducted by European Cyclists Federation and reported on by Bike Radar, e-bikes have the lowest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of any form of transport: even better than pedal-assisted bikes or even walking. This research takes account of the manufacturing impact of making the bikes, the energy production in charging the e-bike battery but also the food production and calorie demand from cycling and walking: from a GHG point of view, e-bikes are the best.

2. Better air quality
It’s not just global warming that e-bikes help to solve, it’s the local air quality too. Poor air quality is responsible for between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths in the UK every year, according to Public Health England. Taking cars off the streets and replacing them with e-bikes will improve the quality of life for everyone.

3. Riding an e-bike is still exercise
Unlike with an ordinary bike, you can go a bit easier on the hills so that you don’t get so hot and sweaty – but you’re also likely to ride more and to ride further because of the battery. Academic research shows that “e-bike use leads to substantial increases in physical activity in e-bikers switching from private motorised vehicle and public transport, while net losses in physical activity in e-bikers switching from cycling were much less due to increases in overall travel distance”. Physical inactivity causes as many deaths as smoking and costs the UK £7.4 billion a year.

4. An e-bike saves money
The majority of e-bikes purchased in the UK cost between £1,000 and £2,000 (though you can pay a lot more if you want). By contrast, a typical car costs £160 a month to run and public transport for a regular commuter typically costs between £70 and £200 a month, depending on journey types and distances. This means that someone buying an e-bike to replace car or public transport is likely to recoup the cost within one to two years.

5. No congestion, no parking
Well, hardly any. E-bikes and bikes take up about a quarter of the space of a car and they can be parked off the street. The more people who ride bikes, the less congested our cities will become. This in turn means that everyone can move faster.

6. Electric cars are good, e-bikes are better
OK, if you need to carry a double-bass 200 miles, you’d be better off in a car (or on a train) but for a lot of urban journeys, e-bikes are better. They don’t need a charging network and they don’t have the particulate matter air pollution problems of electric cars: around three out of five of those nasty tiny black specs in the air don’t come from exhaust pipes, they come from a combination of tyres, brake dust and tarmac wear. This means that even if we were all to switch to electric cars and ignore the e-bike, we’ll still have lots of air pollution in our towns and cities to contend with.

This article was written by the team behind Pure Electric.

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