The potential of e-bikes to contribute to a net-zero future
It is undeniable that electric bicycles have an ever-increasing presence in the cycling industry and modern life generally. Many are now asking the question: with more of us swapping cars for bikes, what impact will this have regarding the climate crisis and greenhouse gas emissions?
The e-bike’s acceleration to the top of the market
Over the last 18 months the sale of e-bikes has seen growth of 30-40% in many European countries, noticeably larger than the single-digit increase in car sales. This increase has been linked in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, as locked-down riders looked for a way to stay active. While it was thought that this sales trend may have been an ‘e-bike bubble’, the industry now boasts sustained and unprecedented growth far past the initial spike. In countries such as Germany, where uptake has been largest, the tech can be found in one in nine households, with predictions that e-bikes may soon account for half of all bicycle sales within the country.
Moving from four wheels to two
The ease of riding e-bikes has expanded the availability of cycling to people that may have been excluded in the past, including those with disabilities, lower fitness levels, or of an older age. Likewise, the option of assisted movement has removed a huge hurdle that could have been holding back the general population: the large perceived effort of cycling. E-bikes have made the big decision of swapping your commuting method that little bit easier, and this change is far from just a novelty. Following purchase, casual riders see more than a twofold increase in their use of a bicycle for daily travel, positioning e-bikes to become an essential and long-lasting component of the urban transport system.
The Urban Transport Group recently reported that if government mode-shift targets are met across the UK, e-bikes could soon make up 2% of all trips, or 256 million journeys. This increase would replace 103 million car and taxi trips annually, with a higher uptake of cycling only boosting this figure; of course, further considerations into public attitude, infrastructure, and convenience must be made to achieve these targets.
Cycling away from emissions
So, with all this discussion surrounding booming sales and enthusiastic populations, what are the actual positive environmental impacts of the e-bike?
The benefits start at the very beginning of an e-bike’s life cycle, the production chain. Being a more compact, lighter mode of transport, the CO2 emissions associated with production are instantly slashed. Additionally, as fully electric vehicles, e-bikes avoid two significant sources of emissions – traditional fuel production, and its combustion in engines. Together, these processes make up a minimum 23% of all global CO2 released.
As an example, it’s estimated that if the entirety of the UK’s population switched from using a car to an e-bike, the country’s emissions would drop by an unprecedented 50%! Plus, the easier disposal of e-bikes, their lower levels of noise and light pollution, and even the reduced levels of associated wildlife deaths all cut down environmental impact from a perspective other than just CO2 emissions.
Bafang is proud to be part of an industry which is advancing green technology so effectively. With an average e-bike user reducing their personal CO2 emission by 225kg a year, there has never been a better time to hop onto the saddle and pedal towards a greener future!