E-bikes are zooming ahead. Here are 3 reasons why they promise to redefine your relationship with cycling. New member to Cycle Islington, Oliver Parsons-Baker, shares his love of his new e-bike.
E-bikes were the breakthrough transport trend of 2020
The pandemic has placed how we travel into sharp focus. A need for new, more isolated travel options has led to a surge in cycling levels and bike sales.
E-bikes have been a big driver behind this growth, rapidly going from novelty to urban necessity. In Europe, sales increased by 23% between 2019 and 20201, while the UK saw a 92% year-on-year rise in e-bikes sold between April and September 20202. E-bikes sales to grow from 3.7m to 17m per year by 2030 – Forbes, 2020
E-bikes are the gateway to recreation cycling and transportation biking for the many
When the realities of the pandemic hit, like millions of others my wife and I reverted to using our car. However, as the cycling boom morphed into a tangible phenomenon, we challenged ourselves – was an e-bike the solution to unshackle us from our new car dependency?
The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity – Amelia Earhart
Prior to the pandemic neither of us had owned a road bike or shown much enthusiasm for cycling. But armed with new knowledge from our research and a test ride under our belts, we took the decision to purchase a couple of e-bikes.
After a few months of e-biking, we’ve drawn from our own experience to share the 3 reasons we believe you will want to make that step too.
Reason 1 – Riding the zeitgeist
People are naturally curious about e-bikes and they attract a lot of attention and many questions. The interactions we’ve had with passers-by only seem to scratch the surface of the level of interest out there for e-bikes.
After ‘Do you have to pedal?’, the other most asked questions are, ‘what is it like on hills?’, ‘how much did it cost?’ and ‘where did you get them from?’. These short but numerous interactions make you feel like you have become an instant ‘influencer’ without all the hassle of the ‘gram’!
In this instance, you really won’t regret coming early to this party – who wouldn’t want to be ‘on trend’ for something that is poised to radically change urban transport as we know it.
Reason 2 – A real leveller for ability, fitness and enthusiasm
Accessibility is really THE huge benefit e-bikes have to offer. For us, this means we have flattened out the differences between us in terms of cycling ability, be that faster speeds, further distances or longer rides.
We can both reach brisk speeds, enabling us to ride together comfortably, whilst the electrical assistance helps us keep up the mileage. The more we have become familiar with the bikes, the more we have discovered that the normal boundaries of cycling evaporate.
The capability to go further, faster and longer with more ease has hugely expanded our horizons for where we can explore. So, when I look at a map to propose interesting but far flung corners of London, it is genuine enthusiasm which comes back!
To keep this to a readable length, I don’t have enough word count to convey all that the extra oomph means in terms of carrying capacity – from effortless weekly supermarket trips to all the kit and caboodle of commuting.
Reason 3 – Realising e-bikes are a powerful instrument of change
From never cycled to racking up nearly 350 miles each in three months, the equivalent distance of London to Glasgow and back again, we have found the bikes to be a pure, simple, unadulterated joy to ride. However, we have for the first time really experienced how unsafe cycling can feel.
Living in London, we recognise that we probably have access to some of the highest-quality cycling infrastructure in the country. Yet it still isn’t good enough.
However, the cycling provision, quiet ways and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods that we cycle on were achieved by relentless campaigning for many years by dedicated individuals and groups. Our lived experience of e-cycling has been a strong driver for us joining the London Cycling Campaign and wanting to be involved in Cycle Islington.
Many more people will experience cycling because of e-bikes and now is the time for cycling and active travel groups to connect with this new segment of cycling.
We believe these new cyclists will prove to be a pivotal voice in pressing for politicians to go further and faster in the delivery of safer, healthier and more equitable urban environments.
And overall, we see that as a fantastic outcome, even if people still (wrongly) think it is ‘cheating’!
1 European Cyclists’ Federation