Smart Transport

E-bikes could replace 100 million car and taxi trips, says new report

Woman on e-bike

Over 100 million car and taxi trips made in city regions each year could instead be on e-bikes if the Government is able to deliver its target for mode shift to cycling, according to a new report.

The new report by consultants Steer for the Urban Transport Group (UTG) – Fully charged: Powering up the potential of e-bikes in the city regions – looks at how the use of e-bikes can be increased, the benefits they can bring and their potential to shift journeys which would otherwise be made by cars and taxis.

Sales of e-bikes have rocketed across Europe in the past 18 months, fuelled in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many European countries seeing growth of between 30 and 40% (compared to single-digit growth in car sales).

The UK has witnessed an upward trend, but sales have been low compared to Europe, with e-bikes accounting for just 3% of bikes sold in 2019, compared with between around 10 and 30% of sales in European countries.

The report presents different scenarios on the potential for e-bikes, with estimates made by looking at Government targets, or what would happen with accelerated growth in e-bike adoption.

Ben Still, managing director of West Yorkshire Combined Authority and lead Board member for active travel at the Urban Transport Group, said: “These scenarios paint a positive picture of what is possible for e-bikes.

|They tell us the portion of cycle trips that could be made by e-bikes if Government meets its target on shifting people to cycling, and the number of car and taxi trips which could be removed from our roads.

“E-bikes have unique appeal, enabling longer and more frequent cycle trips, and they can thrive in certain demographics, such as older people, or certain geographies, like hilly or congested towns and cities. E-bikes therefore need to be centre stage of Government’s active travel policy if we are to get more people cycling in our city regions.”

The report proposes six areas in which local and transport authorities can play a role in increasing the uptake of e-bikes:

  1. Financial incentives – such as grant schemes and tax incentives

  2. Changing public attitudes and increasing awareness – through bicycle libraries, loan schemes and better marketing and promotion

  3. Infrastructure improvements – including better cycle routes and mobility hubs

  4. Security, safety and convenience – with the provision of secure cycle storage and e-bike maintenance

  5. Research and monitoring into pilot programmes that test approaches to incentivise the use of e-bikes

  6. Shared e-bikes – with local and transport authorities securing funding targeted to introduce e-bikes into existing bike share schemes.

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