Researchers at Leeds University believe e-bikes could offer a safe a sustainable route back into work for the millions of workers currently working from home.
While it could take public transport systems months to recover the capacity lost to the lockdown and social distancing measures, academics from the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) team at the University of Leeds believe e-bikes could provide a rapid solution.
Demand for e-bikes has rocketed during the lockdown, and the study found the greatest impact could come from e-bike use outside urban centres.
“City dwellers already have many low-carbon travel options, so the greatest impact would be on encouraging use outside urban areas” says the report.
“In the coming two years, the government’s Covid-19 economic recovery stimulus package should fund and implement pilot programmes that test approaches to incentivise the use of e-bikes to replace car travel. These programmes should focus on schemes outside major urban centres to maximise the CO2 reduction per person.”
In Denmark, e-bike routes are already linking cities to towns and villages as e-bikes enable people to make longer journeys than conventional cycles, bringing new transport options to people living outside urban centres. In the post-coronavirus recovery, e-bikes could offer a safe way for people to travel.
The researchers also concluded that if used to replace car travel, e-bikes have the potential to cut car carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in England by up to 50% – about 30 million tonnes per year.
Even replacing just 20% of car miles travelled with e-bike travel could cut carbon emissions by 4-8 million tonnes each year.
Dr Ian Philips (University of Leeds & CREDS), who led the research, said: “The strategic potential of e-bikes as a mass-transport option has been overlooked by policymakers so far.
“The research began as a way to measure the potential carbon savings that e-bikes can offer, but as we emerge from the lockdown, e-bikes can be part of the solution to getting people safely mobile once again.
“We’re recommending that governments across the UK find ways to incentivise e-bike use to replace car journeys. As well as lowering carbon emissions from transport, e-bikes have the potential to improve the mobility options for people and communities at risk of transport poverty.”