Did you know that electric bicycles exist since the end of the 19th century? A patent was filed in 1897 for a two-engine electric bicycle. The e-bike models have evolved since then. Electric bikes have become popular only very recently. The last major shift took place in 1995. The price of neodymium magnets fell. And those magnets help bring power to the electric motors.
Electric bicycles are now becoming the preferred mode of transportation in many city centers. In 2018, the global market for electric bicycles amounted to $ 21 billion. This market is expected to reach $ 39 billion by 2025.
In the United States, electric-assisted bicycles accounted for $ 77 million in sales in 2017, up 91% from 2016. Since 2014, e-bike sales have multiplied by eight. And the benefits and services provided to regular riders and amateur cyclists are numerous.
Among other things, the autonomy of electric bikes is perfect for the rides to city centers. E-bikes are ideally used for journeys between 10 km and 24 km. For the rides below 10 km, electric scooters dominate the urban landscape. Beyond 24 km, cars or buses are more popular.
Electric bicycles, therefore, are perfect for intermediate distance round trips, which is well suited for city limits of most cities. Flexible to move around, e-bikes can assist anywhere in the city, since electric assistance significantly eases uphill climbs and long distances.
Worth also mentioning that e-bikes have not a small financial advantage over cars. Even the cost of replacement batteries (which still raises many doubts around the pedelecs) still does not change the balance in favor of motorists. Court Rye, an expert in e-bikes, explains: “In summary, use of an electric bike is about three times cheaper than a car, taking into account current fuel prices.”
Electric bicycles offer a more stable and versatile alternative for their users, compared to micromobility. E-bikes can help deliver meals to households, transport of small loads, courier deliveries, etc. Simply add accessories to e-bike’s frame and you are ready to go. Electric bikes can also carry much higher loads than, for example, scooters. And they can even tow trailers if required.
Robust frames of electric bikes are also well suited for carrying children, in the same way as non-electric bikes that can accommodate a child seat. Given e-bike’s autonomy and power, these bikes are therefore ideal for families traveling in urban areas for their daily trips.
Improved health and living environment
There are multiple research studies on the health benefits of cycling. Now studies on the benefits of electric bicycles on the individual and collective health are on their way. Can e-bike be used to keep fit? Read in this post.
The main argument is that electric bike enthusiasts, on average, have less reluctance to exercise regularly and seriously. Climbing a steep hill can scare away new cyclists, but thanks to the electric assistance of electric bike, this challenge is now much easier to meet. Can e-bikes climb steep hills? Read more in this post.
The authors of a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology also demonstrate that e-bike riders find their use of e-bikes surprisingly pleasant. A pleasant activity can lead to positive behavioral changes, ultimately improving the health of those, who practice it.
Electric bikes also offer seniors an alternative to gain independence. It is easier for seniors to do their shopping without having a car. E-bikes also allow seniors to practice physical activity.
Results of several studies, concerning the usage of e-bikes to reduce the severity of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are encouraging. E-bikes could be an ideal solution to give a large part of the population the opportunity to practice daily physical activity.
Transformation of city centers
The changing transportation needs of the city population needs to be in the center of future urban planning if we want our cities to remain attractive and enjoyable.
The city centers, usually the most populated areas, desperately need solutions that address both diversity and density issues. Electric bicycles have sufficient autonomy to allow their riders to travel in the majority of city centers. E-bikes also allow for a variety of uses that can help substitute cars. And e-bikes offer a convincing means for daily or regular physical activity.
City centers do require solutions for short distances (electric scooters for example), but should not neglect e-bikes. In general, cycling brings users closer to their communities. This runs in stark contrast with individual cars that tend to isolate us, even when used in the densely populated neighborhoods.
Using electric bikes is then helping our societies to resolve this isolation trend and now to let it become worse.
Electric transport is actively developing in megalopolises
Electric transport is actively developing in megacities around the world. Here are a few views from different parts of the Globe.
The President of the Russian Club in Tokyo, Mikhail Mozzhechkov, notes that Japan is catching up fast with China in the popularity of electric transport.
“The Chinese have special riding lines for electric vehicles, in Japan, these lines also appear more and more often. We have good electric bicycles now. The electric motor helps turn the pedals, so you can ride around the city without much effort. Scooters have also become fashionable,” – said Mozzhechkov, adding that the cost of his scooter paid off in six months.
He rode a scooter to work and could ride up to 30 kilometers, at a speed of up to 27 kilometers per hour. And recently, electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular in the country.
“The new generation of Nissan electric cars competes with Tesla. So far, however, their distance is not so good. Nissan cars can travel up to 400 kilometers without recharging. Use Chinese batteries mostly. An American, who drives such an electric car, says that it is necessary to carefully plan the route, because there may be lines at charging stations.
According to Mikhail Mozzhechkov, Japan is gradually abandoning gasoline, because a kilometer on electricity costs less.
Adeline Smirnova, a technology student from Berlin, said that electric vehicles can often be seen on the streets of Germany.
“But scooters and monowheels, which are now so popular in Moscow, are very rare here. The “Tesla” electric car costs about 30 thousand dollars. It is usually chosen by the middle class. Charges are often hidden in the courtyards. But most often charging sockets can be found near shopping centers.”
And yet the most favorite urban vehicle of the Germans is the bicycle. Many Germans start riding from childhood. They are not in a hurry to switch to modern e-bikes due to certain conservatism and commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
The journalist from Beijing, Nikolai Masterov, noted that electric transport in China accounts for about 55 percent of the total number of urban transport.
Most often, these are electric buses. Today in China, “Kin-Kong” bus models are using electric engines. They are so silent that pedestrians often do not hear them coming and risking to get under their wheels.
Electric motorcycles and mini-bikes can be charged at home or on the staircases of the apartment buildings.
The journalist said that when he moved to China, he immediately bought an electric scooter with a rechargeable battery. Scooters are very accessible here – they cost less than 200 dollars, and most Chinese people ride them.
There are dedicated lanes on the roads for electric scooters and bikes,” said Nikolai Masterov.
He also noted that in China there are a large number of places where electric transport can be recharged. Around 8 thousand stations are already built and new ones appear all the time. “Tesla” in China is several times more expensive than in Europe, so the Chinese and tourists are offered an alternative. You can rent a small car and it will be electric.
According to Masterov, the state is interested in switching to electric transport, since there is a large oncology mortality rate in the country, which is partially due to the poor ecological situation.
Journalist Margarita Sandler from Brussels noted that scooters, or rather, those who use this type of personal electric transport, in Belgium are not very welcome.
“Electric scooters appeared on the streets of Brussels relatively recently. Earlier there were certain rules for riding electric scooters, but now the restrictions were lifted, allowing to travel at a speed of 40 kilometers per hour. I am certainly against this!”
“In my opinion, bikes were enough. Electric scooters are left on the streets without any order. In Moscow, for example, everything is very well organized. This is amazing!”
“In general, the Belgians are very fond of bicycles – both electric and traditional. Belgium is one of the countries, in which people buy a large number of electric “Tesla” cars. They love those cars and are proud of them.”
According to Sandler, not so long ago, electric buses first appeared in Belgium. This happened after the entry of diesel vehicles into Brussels was banned.