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Pah. Cyclists, eh?
Those road tax-dodging Lycra louts. Can’t they afford to buy a car and just sit in traffic like everyone else?
Cycling has an image problem in the UK.
Even in London – where there has been a noticeable uptake in cycling since the introduction of the excellent Cycling Superhighways – cyclists just look different to other parts of Europe.
People aren’t milling about towns on bikes. If they’re on a bike, they’re in the zone. Battling for space, pedalling furiously, kitted out in sporty hi-vis gear. I’m generalising, of course. But the point stands.
Frankly, for the “everyman”, commuting by bike doesn’t hold a great deal of appeal. It’s dangerous, you’ll get all sweaty and you need to wear a silly outfit.
Naturally, this isn’t the fault of British cyclists. We’re just the inevitable result of a side-lined culture that has had to literally battle for space on the road, let alone a designated space to ride.
It goes without saying that improved cycling infrastructure would improve this situation. However, this isn’t particularly cheap or quick to resolve – especially when it is only a subset of the population calling for it rather than the majority.
To build support for investment in cycling, therefore, we need to make cycling more mainstream.
So, in order get more people cycling and evolve the perceptions of cycling, could the electric bike be key?
Could Electric Bikes Change the Perception of Cycling?
There are two primary reasons why electric bikes can have a greater market reach in the UK than your traditional analogue bike.
First, the “don’t you get all sweaty?” question is no longer a legitimate commuter concern. Electric bikes reduce the intensity of exertion while riding – especially up hills.
Secondly, electric bikes can be damn fast when they get going, enabling riders to speed along at up to 28 mph with minimal effort. Indeed, riding an electric bike is barely any harder than sitting down and playing some free pokies in a relaxed evening at home.
Commutes that are not only less strenuous, but also faster, have massive appeal for urban dwellers looking for the easiest way to commute around their area.
Electric Bike Usage is on the Rise – Big Style
And e-bikes are already on an upward trend.
2.5 million British adults are seriously considering buying an electric bike in the next year – although many will likely be put off by the high cost of purchasing one outright.
But all is not lost.
As the cost of buying electric bikes is still very high, the next natural step leads us to electric bike hire schemes. Bike hire schemes have proved extremely popular around the UK and, indeed, the world, over the past decade or so, and the possibility of extending these schemes to include electric bikes would be huge for cycling.
Indeed, my first real introduction to electric bikes came when I was recommended to hire one when I visited Copenhagen. The days I spent zooming around the city on e-bikes made me really appreciate the benefits of such bikes – and also how they can appeal to a bigger portion of the population.
Electric bikes are for everyone. And when people realise that, they may remember that cycling can be for everyone too.