Electric bikes for commuting are trending but, is that the Go?
More and more people are shifting to electric bikes for commuting. The first proof of this statement came in the form of Deloitte’s forecast in December 2019.
The consulting firm claimed that the number of e-bikes on the road would easily outnumber other e-vehicles by the end of 2030.
Then 2019 happened. The first three (3) months of 2020 were especially brutal for e-bike sales as shops were ordered closed and people were told to stay home.
It was observed that the best electric bike sales plummeted by up to 30% in the first few weeks of April.
But all changed in a positive way.
With the combination of hot weather and better adherence to safety rules slowing down the spread of the virus, governments across the developed world, allowed bicycle shops to reopen rapidly.
The silver lining followed. One estimate claims that most shops in Germany, which sells more E-bikes than any big country in Europe, had run out of stock within a week after opening.
That is partly the reason why the e-bike market in 2020 witnessed a growth rate of 23% year on year.
People are shifting to electric bikes for commuting
One of the significant reasons why e-bike sales have gone through the roof in recent years is because people are turning to them for commuting purposes.
The lure of using one’s car to go to the office has died down due to rising parking fees, increasing awareness about the pollution vehicle emissions cause, and escalating congestion on the roads.
That has opened up a gap in the market which is now being filled by electric bikes.
And that gap will only widen in the coming years, as the numbers mentioned above show.
However, people’s growing disdain for motor vehicles is only a small reason why they’re turning to e-bikes for commuting.
Here are the major reasons why the shift is taking place:
#1: Govt. policy creating superior incentives
European governments have introduced multiple incentives to lure people towards using E-bikes for commuting purposes.
Some of these incentives are given to employees in the form of benefit schemes.
Some are given to students through their representative bodies while others are given in the form of financial incentives.
Governments like Sweden have gone one step ahead by offering subsidy schemes that make up one-quarter of the E-bike’s price, up to 1,000 euros.
All these incentives have, to an extent, convinced people to ditch motor vehicles and try to find the best electric commuter bike such as the Aventon Pace 500, which has become very popular in Europe.
An average European is now 3x more likely than their counterpart in 1990 to own a vehicle. The same ratio is 2x for an American, 5x for a Canadian and a whopping 10x for the Japanese.
#2: Breakthroughs in battery technology
The earliest E-bikes to hit the roads relied on lead-acid batteries to power them. These batteries are incredibly cheap, but they are plagued with many problems:
- You can’t count on them to store much energy.
- They’re only 80 to 85% efficient and go dead in less than a year,
- Worse, these batteries are incredibly bulky and have massive recharging times.
All these facts were enough to convince the populace that the time wasn’t right for them to hop on the saddle of an electric bike in the past.
Then came the Lithium-ion batteries.
Sure, they cost more than their predecessors, but Li-ion batteries offset this drawback by storing more energy, lasting more hours and helping the bike cover more distance.
You can also recharge them much more quickly and carry a spare for a rainy day, as these batteries don’t weigh a ton.
#3: Electric bikes for commuting Vs Increased traffic on the roads
One study estimates that both the frequency as well the duration of traffic jams have exploded in recent years.
That has happened because the total vehicle mileage (which grew by 80% in the US between 1980 and 2000) has dwarfed the population growth rate (which grew by only 24%).
Most people don’t know these statistics but they are painfully aware of their consequences.
An average American commuting to and from the office spends 42 hours in traffic every year.
That translates to more than two (2) months stuck behind the wheel if you worked for 35 years.
E-bikes help commuters overcome the issue. Their small size and nimble construction allow them to slalom their ways through rows of stuck cars, thereby allowing riders to travel in less time.
#4: Desire to sweat less on the daily commute
How to recognize a colleague who might have just pedaled their way to the office? Every part of their shirt will be drenched in sweat.
Electric bike commuters deal with no such problems.
The assistance provided by their bicycle forces them to sweat up to two–thirds less on their morning commute than the rider of a traditional bike.
As such, e-bikes help their riders from the inconvenience of keeping an extra pair of clothes at the office.
They also help save the time that bicyclist would otherwise spend taking a shower and changing drenched clothes at work.
Time which E-bike enthusiasts could spend sleeping, getting more done at the office or picking up breakfast on their way to work.
#5: Ubiquity of charging facilities
The bad old days of electric bikes for commuting forced people to go to a charging station to get their bikes all juiced up. Those days are now history.
These days it’s as easy for anyone living in a developed country to find an e-bike charging station nearby as it’s for them to locate a gas pump.
Statistics confirm this claim. A report from the National Renewable Charging Laboratory (NREL) claims that charging stations grew by 7.6% in the first quarter of 2020.
Facilities that enable fast battery charging, known as DC fast chargers, expanded by up to 11% during that period.
The number is set to go higher.
One draft European Union directive, set to come into effect in the coming months, will require every home built after that date to have an electric vehicle charging port, with 10% of new parking facilities also bound to install an EV charger.
#5: “Reduce exposure to health crisis”
The decade before 2019 was dominated by the popularity of ride-hailing services.
Companies like Uber were forcing car-owners to consider the pros and cons of owning a personal vehicle.
“Why pay a premium for a parking spot when you can call in a ride at any time?” All this changed after 2019.
With ride-sharing services and public transportation dubbed as one of the main drivers of potential close contact with ill people, more and more preferred to work from home or traveling alone.
That’s where the electric bikes come in. They don’t force you to spend any time with potential virus carriers in a closed and cramp environment in which air conditioning can spread droplets.
When you’re riding your bike, you’re in your own bubble, as far away from anything that breathes as possible.
#6: Need to get some exercise
Can’t wake up 2 hours before it’s time for work? Don’t have the motivation to hit the gym after a grueling day at the office? But still want to do something about your ever-expanding waistline?
Then you have one extra reason to go for e-bikes.
You know by now that electric bikes allow you to decrease their pedal assist level.
What you may not know, however, is how you can exploit this feature when using an electric bike for commuting. Or that you can tone down the pedal assist level to burn calories during your trip to work and on the journey back home.
Most of us think of commuting as that part of our day, which we could really do without.
We think of ways using which we can make it less boring. That includes listening to the podcasts and hearing their favorite books read out.
Both these tricks are neat. Yet they are just add-ons to our routine and do little to revolutionize it.
This is precisely what electric bikes are here for.
They provide the benefits that pedaling offers with the add-ons of reduced time spent in traffic, possibly more time in bed and also a smooth and comfortable ride.
Commuting using powered bicycles also helps us achieve our workout goals, provided we dare to flip down that pedal assist level.
It also helps keep a safe distance between us and other humans, a necessity in the current times.
Little wonder, then, more and more people are turning to electric bikes for commuting.