Electric bike prices could plummet thanks to a taxpayer funded scheme that includes ‘loans, subsidies, or other financial incentives’ from 2021, the Government suggested. Why? Because it wants to encourage people to exercise, lessen reliance on polluting cars, and minimise congestion on the roads. However, e-bikes typically cost from £600 to £3,000 – hence the scheme.
How electric bikes work
An e-bike has a motor that powers a wheel to make cycling easier. This is particularly helpful on hills. The motor can be fitted to a wheel or between the pedals. It is powered by a battery that is charged by a standard socket. The battery might be permanently integrated into the bicycle’s frame, or removable.
The motor might be activated by a control on the handlebars. A throttle similar to a motorcycle, for instance. Alternatively, pedalling might initiate the assistance. Either way, an e-bike makes cycling practical in a wider range of scenarios. For people who want to arrive at work without looking sweaty, for example. Further, it can help those who find a traditional bicycle too demanding.
Note too that an electric bike has a motorised top speed of 15.5 mph, and its rider must be at least 14 years old. Beyond that there are few rules and restrictions. There is no need to have a licence, specialised equipment, or insurance. However, whether such a bicycle should be insured is hotly debated.
Benefits of e-bikes
The Department for Transport summarised why it wants to make cycling increasingly popular in the United Kingdom. ‘Increasing cycling and walking can help to tackle some of the most challenging issues we face as a society: improving air quality, combatting climate change, improving health and wellbeing, addressing inequalities, and tackling congestion on our roads’, it said.
Electric bike expert comments
An e-bike specialist suggested that financial incentives would make cycling more popular immediately. FuroSystems Chief Executive Officer, Eliott Wertheimer, said: 'If the Government makes e-bikes more affordable and accessible with a grant scheme, we would expect to see a 30 - 40% increase in sales overnight. Across the industry, sales would go from the hundreds of thousands to the millions by the middle of the decade’, Mr Wertheimer revealed.
He also agreed that a scheme to make e-bikes affordable might help the environment and public health. It would ‘likely take tens of thousands of cars off the road’, he argued. This would help ‘tackle pollution’ and the ‘obesity epidemic’. He would ‘most certainly’ welcome such a scheme, the expert added.