Could E-bikes Replace Cars on (Short) City Commutes?

Cars remain the queens of journeys between home and work, but cycling and public transit have large potential for growth.

Easy E-Biking - city heavy traffic, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

Traffic jams keep growing from year to year, the impact of cars on the environment and health is more and more proven. And the alternatives available to commuters to for their journeys between their home and office become more and more available.

Yet, more than 6 out of 10 Belgians continue to opt for the comfort and freedom of their cars to get to work. But there is a change in the air. 1 out of 4 Belgians has already adapted their travel behavior, and many of them declare that they want to do so in the coming years.

These conclusions come from an extensive survey by AG Insurance, with the support of Touring, which provides valuable insights into the habits and mobility of Belgians in their home-work journeys.

Car is still the queen

The car is the dominant means of transport among Belgians. Nearly 9 out of 10 families (88%) have at least one car, 30% have more than one. This domination continues as 22% of families bought a car last year and 1 in 4 (25%) plans to buy a car this year.

Only a little over one in two (53%) families have at least one bike. But this percentage is twice as high in Flanders as in Wallonia (68% versus 32% respectively). The electric bike occupies an increasingly important place. One household out of 7 (14%) already has an electric bike, again especially in Flanders: 18% against 8% in French-speaking Belgium.

Not surprisingly, the phenomenon of company cars remains widespread in Belgium. One in five (19%) families have at least one company car. If we look only at the labor force, even one in three households (36%) owns at least one. This is especially true for the youngest households. Among 25- to 34-year-olds, this number rises to almost 4 in 10 (39%).

Home-work distance: closer than we think …

How many kilometers do Belgians make to reach their place of work? And how much time do they spend to get there? The AG Insurance survey provides some interesting observations.

  • 1 in 2 Belgians (49%) live within 10 km of their place of work. Only 1 in 4 (27%) have to travel more than 20 km to work.
  • Just 1 in 3 commuters needs more than 35 minutes to get to work. 1 in 3 even travels in less than a quarter of an hour.

But car remains the preference

Despite the fact that half of the active population lives within 10 km of their workplace, 62% of the workforce commutes to work. Less than 1 in 5 of those, active in the workforce (23%) use the means of public transport, 1 in 5 use a bike (electric or not).

But who are these car buffs and what is the distance to their place of work? The survey shows that 58% of active people who live within 10 km of their workplace use their car for their commutes.

If we look at it from another angle: 41% of people who use the car to get to work live within 10 km of their place of work. Stimulating these workers to opt for cycling, other means of transport or for public transport could have a major impact on the lines and on the environment.

Five reasons to try e-bike leasing

Thinking about commuting to work? And why not on a company bike? Cycling was long restricted to leisure trips only, and this form of soft mobility is gradually gaining popularity for home-to-work commutes. To the point that larger leasing companies are now taking notice.

Two-wheelers are popular in Belgian cities and the phenomenon is likely to grow further with the introduction of bicycle fleets that are leased to companies. Leasing can be done for a few minutes or long-term, as needed. Why go for it?

Do not waste your time in the car, pedal!

Each year you lose not less than 195 hours in the traffic jams of Brussels or Antwerp. And this is slowly touching the rest of the country (Namur, Liège).

There is now as much traffic in London as in Brussels, which has just been ranked ahead of Paris in the last report of Dutch TomTom, published in early June.

As a reminder, the average car speed in the capital at peak times rarely exceeds 15 km / h. E-bikes have the capacity to ride at 25 km/h and to maneuver around … what even buses have trouble doing.

You can benefit the company mobility allowance

The mobility allowance came into effect on March 1st. Its objective is to allocate to an employee a sum of money, which then can be devoted to the means of transport of his choice.

The 1st pillar of this allowance favors “green” vehicles (hybrid, electric). The 2nd pillar is dedicated to alternative and sustainable modes of transport, which is known as soft mobility. Bicycles form a natural part of it, in addition to public transport.

This is not a spinning class (you arrive fresh at the office)

Bicycle rental is not limited to “analog” and traditional two-wheelers. There is a large number of electric models, whose range extends well beyond 50 kilometers.

This is not to mention speed pedelecs, models that can reach an impressive speed of 45 km / h. Cowboy brand is one of such models, which has been designed in Belgium.

How not to sweat on electric bike commute? Read tips in these series of posts – trip planning, on the road and when you arrive.

Bicycle fleets

It may be time to wake up your fleet manager! In Belgium, Europcar has just launched Europcar Bikes, a solution designed for companies. Through this new service, employers can offer a “cycling plan” to their employees.

This new service is in the hands of the company fleet manager, who can skillfully juggle conventional cars, scooters, and bikes (traditional or electric), depending on the type of travel required.

The rental is done via the company or via “Ctec Points”, which are present everywhere in Belgium (not only in towns).

You do not have to work for a large company to benefit

Are you independent or manage your own company? The employee scheme applies to you as well. You can thus amortize an electric bike over 3 years at 120% and pay yourself (or deduct) a bike allowance of 0.22 € / km.

As for individuals and self-employed who do not want to own an electric bike, it is possible to rent bikes through services like Jump (Uber) for short trips.

These bikes, already present in Brussels, are equipped with GPS chips and are activated via a mobile application. Pricing is similar to scooters (€ 1 unlocking fee, then € 0.15 per minute of commute).

Company e-bike leasing example

Cycling to work can be good for your health. For the environment too. These are the reasons that pushed the company Corman, in Goé, France, to propose to all its personnel a formula of rent-purchase of a bicycle, electrical or not. A great success story so far.

The principle of leasing offered by Corman to its staff is, in fact, a pre-financing of the purchase of a bike that many could not have bought themselves: ​​”It is to use one’s salary to buy a bike or pay back the lease that Corman company is taking on the company account via a specialized financing agency.”

“Every month, part of the employee’s salary is deducted until the bike is fully paid. Then the bike belongs to the one who bought it. The bike is chosen by the employee, so he or she knows the price up front. The purchase amount is divided by 36 and is systematically paid over three years, “says Thierry Bollier, director of human resources.

Corman is 440 workers. One hundred of them have already bought their bikes via the above formula. Satisfaction is key. “We always buy a bike when the employee has chosen which bike he or she wants. We have ordered already a hundred bikes as of today.”

“We have more bikes on order since new employees have recently made their requests. We made this choice for the environment and for the well-being of the workers because it is really a request from them to have a bike partly financed by the company, ” says Thierry Bollier.

A happy team

All of the team, who have made the decision so far, are delighted with this opportunity.

“I have taken this step to save petrol and especially for my health, to keep fit, and really to enjoy the fresh air in the morning, get up a little earlier and get on my bike. When I arrive at the office, I have fully wakened up. And I feel much better to start the day,” says Colette Peutat.

“It costs me 65 to 70 euros a month. The electric bike is generally expensive but in this schema works well and monthly payments are not painful. The total amount is amortized over three years, so it’s a good deal,” adds Patricia Alard.

“It’s an opportunity to exercise daily, without seeing it as an obligation and without having to force too much. It is a very good opportunity since we can spread the payment over three years”, confirms Sonia Keutgen.

Daniel Fransolet has just received his bike and used it for the first time this Monday: “It was not the best day today because it was very cold this morning. A morning ride wakes you up. In any case, when you come to work by bike, you can not claim to be still half in your bed. You feel fresh and available to attack the day, “he says.

Given the success of the program so far, the offer, which was initially planned until the end of June, will be renewed.

90 of the ordered bicycles are electric. The team has committed to using them for, at least, 20 percent of their overall commutes.

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