E-bikes trump electric cars in climate change battle, says research group

The Bicycle Association, supported by Transport for Quality of Life, says that e-bikes are more cost effective

E-bike grants are a more cost effective way of brining about climate change, an industry group has said.

The Bicycle Association, backed up with research from consultancy Transport for Quality of Life, will share its findings at an All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group meeting at the houses of parliament on Monday July 8.

The group says that the UK is falling behind where green transport is concerned, and will present the conclusions to its ‘Demonstration Cities’ report to MPs, officials and decision makers.

The findings come days after the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) published a government funded report which concluded that bicycles represent a better solution than electric cars, in fighting climate change as well as congestion and encouraging healthier lifestyles.

The Bicycle Association’s research shows the the cost of saving a kilogram of CO2 via schemes to boost e-bikes is less than half the cost of existing grants for electric cars such as the Tesla S – and at a cost per purchase of less than one tenth of the grant for electric cars.

>>> Why we need to stop being snobby about e-bikes 

The industry trade body believes that e-bikes should be a top priority for urgent Government support, saying that half of all e-bikes trips replace journeys that would have otherwise been made by car.

It also points out that e-bikes don’t require infrastructure changes such as electric charging points, though it has been shown that improved provision such as segregated bicycles lanes does increase cycling volume.

In the UK, 60,000 e-bikes were sold last year – and numbers are increasing, but still represent just 3 per cent of the overall bike market. The group says that in mainland Europe, the take up is much greater – close to a million in Germany – putting this down to national and regional incentives.

Steve Garidis, Executive Director of the Bicycle Association said:“The time is right for national Government and city regions to kick-start wider e-bike uptake with purchase incentive schemes. The results in terms of CO2 and congestion reduction will be fast and at a remarkably low cost – a game-changer in clean urban transport.”

Former Olympic champion Chris Boardman, who is now the Greater Manchester Walking & Cycling Commissioner, said: “I can see the huge potential of e-bikes, they are the perfect tool to entice many people, who don’t want to be a cyclist, out of the car.

“I whole heartedly support any measures that make that choice easier and I am very keen that Greater Manchester becomes the first Demo Region to pilot measures to give people this viable alternative to driving. I will work with both the industry and government to explore how we make that happen as quickly as possible.”

As well as advocating purchase incentives for personal e-bikes, the Bicycle Association supports grant schemes for electric cargo bikes, which it says could replace 30 per cent of deliveries currently made by van, thanks to their capacity to carry up to 250 kilograms.