What advantages do they have?
Convenience: E-biking is a great Active Travel option in hilly, traffic choked cities like Sheffield. Here they achieve good average speeds as you are not slowed down by hills. On e-bikes, urban journeys can be quicker door to door than other transport options.
Confidence: E-bike assistance gives you more confidence on the road, having the power and presence to be more part of the traffic flow. E-bike users notice that even the odd bout of ‘weather’ doesn’t feel as discouraging as it usually does.
Better Route Choices: E-bike power flattens hills and shrinks distances, giving you wider route choices. You can choose to avoid busy polluted main routes and streets whenever you wish, regardless of distance and terrain. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much of your journey in and around your area and the city can be done on dedicated cycle routes and lanes, or via parks and quiet back roads you may currently be unaware of. This minimises the time you spend on or near traffic choked roads and rat runs.
Note: The use of Cycle lanes is not mandatory in the UK, rather it is a choice if the cycle lane is convenient, safe to use and suits your needs.
Do remember however that you are a road user just like any other, so as long as it is safe to do so, cycle within the law and in accordance with the specific rules for cyclists in the Highway code . This will keep you and other road users safer and better tempered.
Please also note the fantastic new Changes to the Highway Code offering greatly enhanced protection for non vehicular road users from January 2022 (Make sure you are looking at the post Jan 29th 2022 version of the Highway Code with the new rules regarding vulnerable road users.)
I have noticed a real benefit from these, being given much more room by passing traffic.
Health: Statistically e-biking helps you live longer and with better health due to the gentle cardiac exercise. Research says you breathe in less pollution cycling in traffic than when sitting in a vehicle.
You can carry lots of stuff – and even your kids to school! We are starting to see UK parents get the continental habit of cycling to school with their children. They know that they both gain the health benefits, and are one less polluting car queuing up to park near the school. They will either cycle with them, or increasingly, seat them on or in their purpose built Cargo type bike. This they also use as general urban transport for a big shop or stuff that would previously have needed a car boot e.g. Tern GSD , Riese + Muller Multicharger , Urban Arrow or similar box in front ‘Long John’ style cargo bikes such as the Bullitt or by Cube which safely and legally carry two young children – see later section 6 for more info.
Equality: e-bikes can help many people have the legs, lungs and confidence to get around their neighbourhood under our own steam, be they previous bike users or not. They lend regular bike users a bit of assistance to help deal with the challenges arising with age or injury, thus ensuring they can still do that cycle tour or keep up with fellow riders on the Derbyshire day ride.
For some people, having assistance might simply mean the difference between being able to use a bike or not. I have a previously non cycling friend with a chronic back condition and asthma who recently achieved a 100 mile e-bike ride on his local lanes and trails!
Fun: Often those who would not or cannot normally cycle any significant distance on an unassisted bike now choose e-bikes for recreational rides up to 50 miles or more. They love the feeling of easily getting out and exploring their local roads, cycle trails and bridleways, and maybe even keeping up with their children and grandchildren!
You don’t need to look like a ‘cyclist’: With electric assistance, you can choose to wear everyday clothing, plus waterproofs if needed, and arrive at your destination in a relaxed, non-sweaty state.
E-bikes are cheap to run… : After the initial outlay, the mile for mile cost of e-biking is very favourable compared to other means of getting about. E-bikes can carry you and any amount of shopping or stuff up to fifty miles or more, door to door, for just a few pence.
Should you wish to, you could use an e-bike to assist you on your journey from Lands End to John O groats and use just a couple of pounds worth of mains electricity in the process!
…and will Save the World!
Did you know that less than 50% of overall vehicle pollution actually comes out of the exhaust pipe? The majority of vehicle pollution is the toxic dust and microplastic particles that come off the brakes, tyres and the road surface itself? These are then wafted back up for you to inhale as the next vehicle passes and eventually washed down to the oceans, where brake and tyre dust is a major pollutant. (Made worse by battery cars – EV’s – sadly, which are heavier.)
Electric vehicles (EV’s) will only rid us of exhaust pollution, nothing else, and they still take up a vehicle size footprint on our overcrowded streets and on our pavements. By contrast, e-bikes produce only a fraction of these pollutants, and use only a fraction of the earth’s resources for their relatively tiny batteries. An E-bike battery weighs around 3kg, compared to 400 – 600kg (yes hundred) for an EV.
E-bikes offer a realistic alternative to many current car and van journeys, and will play their part in the transition that we all urgently have to make to more proportional use of vehicles and more Active Travel patterns….