Sunday, June 20

Get on your electric bike: the plan may allow people to test them in England | Cycling

The government is considering funding a ‘try-to-test’ scheme for electric bikes at holiday and day trip destinations and events as a way to increase the acceptance of electric bikes in England.

E-bikes provide a boost from a motor while the rider pedals, and research suggests they can help replace car trips with short trips, with additional health benefits. While data from the Bicycle Association suggests that e-bike sales grew 67% last year during the pandemic, the UK still lags far behind its European neighbors in acceptance.

The Guardian understands that a business case report has been developed for the Department of Transportation (DfT) based on the ‘chance to try’ model, with the idea that once people experience riding an electric bike, it is a lot more likely to buy one. A similar scheme in Switzerland is attributed to the rise of Swiss electric bicycles.

The government will be looking for a delivery partner “to buy all the bikes and organize all the events,” with a plan in place in the summer and fall, though locations have yet to be revealed.

Details of an electric bike rack package, originally announced last year As part of an active £ 2bn travel fund, it will be formally launched in June. Along with a possible grant for opportunities to test them, this could also include a subsidy for the purchase of electric bikes, loan schemes, the government’s response to a revision of the Highway Code, and details of a new body for walking and biking. , Active Travel England.

Bicycle Association Executive Director Steve Garidis said: “I certainly still think that this model has a lot to offer in terms of introducing new people to e-bikes, in an environment where they can feel more comfortable trying a bike. new activity. , and that it can be a fun part of a vacation. There is a direct benefit in tourist location if this reduces short trips. “

Isobel Stoddart co-organized a series of ‘to try’ e-bike networks in 2013 with Garidis, including in the Lake District, using a government grant. She said being able to try them out in campgrounds, hotels and B & Bs where people were staying was “transformative – everyone came out with a smile on their face, regardless of whether they were newbies or deviant cyclists.”

Former Labor leader Ed Miliband said he only felt confident in cycling last year after trying out an electric bike while on vacation in France, and has been cycling to work ever since.

According to a 2019 Bicycle Association analysis, a UK electric bike grant could be more than twice as profitable as existing electric car grants in reducing CO2.

In France, recipients of e-bike grant programs across the country increased annual cycling distances on average from 200 km (125 miles) to 1,400 km, reducing car travel distances by 660 km and CO2 production in 200 kg each. 31% of users said that not having bought an electric bike without the grant. While men make the majority of bicycle trips in France, participation in the electric bicycle scheme was close to gender equality with 48% women.

The Guardian understands that the government is also “very interested” in funding local authorities to provide low-cost electric bicycles to residents.

Cycling Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “E-cycles could be very important to our goal of bringing non-traditional groups to cycling, including the elderly and disabled. We are setting up a national e-bike support program, which could include loans, ‘try-a-chance’ schemes, grants or other financial incentives, using learning from other schemes in the UK and abroad. “

A 2019 Deloitte report predicted that electric bicycles could help create tens of billions of additional bicycle trips in 2022, “doubling the number of regular bicycle users in many major cities around the world where cycling to work still continues. It’s not Common”. A separate investigation found that with a network of cycle routes, one in five people would cycle to work in England; with electric bicycles it is more than one in four.

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