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Imagine the future of getting around in big cities. Do you see streets filled with electric cars, maybe even some that drive themselves?
Right now, electric cars are getting a lot of attention. But there’s a twist. Experts think that in cities, electric bikes (e-bikes) might be the real stars, not cars.
Here are 6 reasons why e-bikes – and not electric cars – are the future of urban transport:
1. Inefficiency of Space
Cars, whether they are moving or not, need a lot of space. In cities, space is very limited. This makes cars an inefficient choice for city living – especially when you consider cars are parked at least 85% of the time.
In a busy city, finding a parking spot can be hard. Streets are full, and parking lots take up room that could be used for parks or houses. Studies have also found that parking spots may actually cause congestion. Traffic jams make getting around slow. Even with electric cars, these problems stay the same. That’s before we even have to consider trying to find a space with a suitable charger.
This isn’t a problem for e-bikes. They are a fraction of the size and can move through traffic more easily. You can park several e-bikes in the space one car would take. This makes e-bikes a smarter choice for getting around in cities. They help keep the streets less crowded and make better use of limited space.
2. Money, Money, Money
While people may raise an eyebrow when hearing electric bikes cost about $2,000 on average, wait until you tell them how much an electric car will cost them. And that’s just the upfront cost.
It costs way less than a dollar to charge up an electric bike, meaning you can travel around for less than 1 cent per mile. Charging an electric car to full, meanwhile, ranges from $10 up to about $50. It might work out cheaper than gas, but not by the margins you can save with an e-bike.
Oh, and then there’s car servicing, insurance, repairs, parking fees… it’s no competition.
3. Environmental Impact
E-bikes are much kinder to our planet than cars, even electric ones. When we look at how they affect the environment, e-bikes come out ahead in many ways.
First, making an e-bike uses fewer resources and causes less pollution than making a car. Cars are big and need a lot of materials like metal and plastic. E-bikes are smaller and simpler, so they don’t need as much stuff to make them. This means less harm to the environment right from the start.
Then, there’s the energy e-bikes use. They run on electricity, which can come from clean sources like the sun or wind. Since e-bikes are light and efficient, they don’t need a lot of power to go far. Electric cars also use clean energy but are heavier and need more power to move. This means they can have a bigger impact on the environment, even if it’s less than gas cars.
National Geographic reports, “E-bikes are a powerful tool on the road to sustainability. When it replaces trips made by a car, an individual e-bike can reduce CO2 emissions by 225 kilograms each year. That’s equivalent to the emissions produced by one passenger flying economy from Philadelphia to Chicago.”
4. The Cities They Are a-Changin’
Cities are changing to support e-bikes better. This shift is good news for people who choose e-bikes as their way to get around. More bike lanes, parking spots for bikes, and programs to share bikes are popping up in cities all over the world.
Bike lanes are a big deal. They give e-bike riders a safe place to ride, away from cars and trucks. This makes riding an e-bike in the city safer and more enjoyable. Many cities are adding new bike lanes and making the ones they have better.
Parking for e-bikes is also improving. Cities are adding spots where you can lock up your e-bike safely. This means you don’t have to worry as much about someone stealing your bike when you’re not using it.
Bike-sharing programs are growing, too. These programs let people use an e-bike for a short time, like for a quick trip across town. You pick up a bike from a station, ride it to where you’re going, and leave it at another station. This is a great way to try out an e-bike and see how it fits into your life.
5. Health and Social Benefits
One ironically lazy argument leveled about e-bikes is that they’re “lazy”. Ironically, this normally comes from people who spend most of their time sitting in a metal box called a car.
While e-bikes burn fewer calories than traditional bicycles per mile, studies have found that people with electric bikes cover, on average, 4x more distance than people with normal bicycles.
So, although you’ll exert less per journey, the long-term health impacts of riding your bike more often are huge, especially when it comes to managing weight, reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and perks for your mental health.
E-bikes offer significant health and social benefits, making them an excellent choice for urban transportation. Riding an e-bike is not only a way to get from point A to point B; it’s also an effective form of exercise that can improve your physical health and well-being.
6. Accessibility and Ease of Use
E-bikes stand out in urban transportation for their accessibility and ease of use, making them an appealing choice for a wide range of people.
Unlike traditional bikes, e-bikes come with an electric motor that assists the rider, making it easier to cover longer distances, climb hills, and arrive at destinations without excessive fatigue.
This feature opens up cycling to those who might have found it too challenging before, such as older adults or individuals with physical limitations.
The design of e-bikes also plays a significant role in their accessibility. Many models offer step-through frames, adjustable settings, and comfortable seating, which cater to users of all ages and abilities. The intuitive controls and display systems on e-bikes allow riders to easily manage their speed and battery level, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable ride.
This all means that more people than ever can get in the saddle than ever, improve the liveability of our cities, feel better while they do so and even save a tonne of money at the same time!