Exploring the benefits of electric bikes for urban development: from traffic reduction to mental health improvement
By Robbie Ferri
Electric bikes are the future, and it couldn’t be more exciting. With recent advancements in technology and cycling continually growing in popularity, we are seeing a big rise in bike sales. People are trading in cars and taking to electric bikes to get where they need to be quicker and to save money.
This hasn’t gone unrecognized by cities, and many city officials have now come to the conclusion that electric bikes could fix many issues that they could be having when it comes to their development. In this article, we’re going to be telling you:
What is an electric bike?
Electric bikes are also known as ebikes or electrically assisted bicycles. It is a bicycle that is fitted with an electric motor and a battery. It still works as a typical bike but can make the work much easier and take you much further, much faster. They come in all different sizes and can be made for city commutes or even off-road mountain biking.
Electric bikes work in different ways unlike say electric cars. Some are on a throttle system. This is where you have a switch you press, which drives the bike forward without you having to pedal. Others on a pedal assistance system. This is where you start pedaling, and the motor kicks in to assist you.
Some bikes are limited to 15 mph, and others can go all the way up to 60 mph. Regarding range, you have some bikes that can go around 20 miles and others that can go 100+ miles.
Electric bikes are generally accepted on cycle paths and roads, providing they are either class 1, 2, or 3. This means they have power restrictions and typically cannot go above 20mph.
You generally don’t require a license to ride an electric bike in urban areas unless they are very powerful.
Why are electric bikes changing city transport?
Electric bikes are most seen in cities and towns. With so many advantages over other forms of transport, many people turned to electric bikes. Here are some reasons why they have become so popular when it comes to urban mobility.
They can be quicker than cars
One of the most amazing things about having an electric bike is that it can use both roads and cycle lanes. This makes for much quicker traveling when it comes to riding in busy cities and stops you from sitting in those awful traffic jams.
They are very cheap to run
Electric bikes are incredibly cheap to run. Many bikes can go from 40 to 100 miles on a single charge, typically costing around $0.12 per charge. Generally, it costs 1% of what a typical car would cost running the same distance. Servicing and parts are much cheaper too.
Exercise is good for you
Although you might have a motor, you can still choose to do the work. Getting yourself moving and exercising can help with weight control, joint health, and blood circulation. Many cyclists choose to turn to an electric bike because they can better regulate their exercise levels.
A big expense when driving into a town or city is the parking. This cost can really add up, and in cities like London, you can spend $25 for a day and still face a walk to the city center. Over a year, this can add up to the cost of a high-end electric bike.
Go further, faster
With the motor and battery, you can really push the limits of adventures. You can go further and faster and discover places your fitness alone might not have been able to take you before. As far as urban transportation goes they offer so much more than any other form of transportation.
Electric bikes are not just great for your physical health but also for your mental health. In fact the health benefits are huge. People say they feel much happier after riding bikes, and exercise is just as good for the mind as it is for the body. There are studies that have shown increased productivity levels for people who cycle to work.
Why are electric bikes important to urban development?
Electric bicycles are much more important to urban development than you might think. The reason we say this is because they fix a huge amount of issues that urban planners are currently facing. In this next section, we want to discuss the issues and how the electric bike can help solve them.
|One of the biggest issues is traffic when it comes to urban development. There’s very little space to build new roads, and there are more and more cars each year. The more cars, the worse the traffic gets and the slower it moves.|
|Instead of building roads, many cities are building cycle lanes. This encourages people to use an electric bicycle and means fewer people using cars. This helps clear the traffic and free up the roads, not just prevent it for a limited time.|
|Not only are cities struggling with the traffic, they are also having parking issues. With more cars, there’s not enough space for parking. What makes this worse is that when people are looking for a space, they are also adding to the traffic congestion. Parking is a huge waste of space when it comes to a city and could be put to much better use.|
|Electric bikes take up much less space than a car and are easier to store. You can fit at least ten electric bikes in the same space as one single car. With more people on bikes, the space can be utilized for new businesses or more space to help the city’s sustainability.|
|Air pollution is becoming a big problem in cities. If there’s one thing cities want to help improve, it’s the air we breathe. Many places in the world have a lot of the inhabitants wearing masks as the air isn’t clean enough because of the cars and traffic.|
|Electric bikes don’t make emissions when they are being used. This means the more people that choose to use electric bikes, the cleaner the environment will be for everyone. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions should be at the top of concerns. We think electric vehicles are going to make the biggest impact on this issue.|
|City living isn’t cheap, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Everything is going up, from rent, bills, food, and even public transport. Many people can’t afford to live in the city unless they make some changes.|
|An electric bike could be the solution. It’s much cheaper than owning a car and even cheaper than the majority of public transport. We see people save thousands each year by switching to an electric bike.|
|Boosts quality of life|
|One thing that a lot of cities and urban planners are trying to approach is how to improve people’s health. Exercise for many people takes a back seat as they either get too busy or don’t enjoy exercising. Exercise can greatly improve your quality of life and mood and help you live longer.|
|Cycling is an excellent way to help get healthy, and the more urban planners embrace electric bikes and cycling, the more we will see an overall improvement in the health of a whole city. Cycling becoming more accepted goes a long way, but it needs good infrastructure.|
|Enhanced road safety|
|A big concern in many cities is road safety. Big crowds of people and lots of traffic and cars don’t mix well. Urban planners are always looking for ways to make the whole city safer for everyone. This can be a big challenge, but sometimes it can be a simple design change.|
|Many cities that have added bike paths and lanes for electric bikes have seen a big change in the number of accidents. A cycle lane keeps cyclists and cars apart and even pedestrians further out of the way. For overall safety adding cycling infrastructure makes a big difference all around.|
|More transport options|
|When you think about cities and transport options, generally you only have a few. Buses, trams, taxis, and trains are what you’re going to get. For years cities have looked for better cost-effective ways to enhance how people get around the city freely.|
|By building a better cycling infrastructure, you have companies that will bring in rental electric bikes and scooters. This offers an alternative to going on typical transport and something a lot of people look for when going to a city.|
|Cities need to set themselves apart. They want more people to visit and more people to come and invest in property and local businesses. A struggle for many cities is to show they are modernizing.|
|A way cities are modernizing is by improving cycling infrastructure for electric bikes. Many people already ride electric bikes, and finding cities that are friendly to your riding goes a long way to attracting possible buyers and visitors.|
The leading cities for urban cycling
To better understand urban cycling, it’s important to understand what the leading cities are doing and the success they are having. Here are our top three cycling cities and why they are highly ranked.
The beautiful city of Copenhagen is home to many cyclists. A massive 62% of journeys to work and school are done via bicycle. Each day in this city, nearly 900,000 miles are cycled by the inhabitants.
You have over 104 miles of bike lanes, and they currently have four bicycle bridges to help you get over the river there. An incredible $45 per capita is invested into improving the city for cycling. We can’t see it losing the top spot anytime soon.
Although when you think about cycling and the Netherlands, you might jump to Amsterdam expecting that to hold the crown, but you would be wrong. Utrecht surpassed it in the cycling index in 2022, taking the top spot overall.
With over 250 miles of cycling network and 51% of the population using bikes, it’s a cycling paradise. It also holds the crown for the most bicycle parking with 12500 spaces. If you live there, there’s a strong possibility you might even get passed by a professional.
Finally, in Belgium, we have Antwerp. Although only 28% of people cycle here, this city is ready to take on many more. With lots of large cycle lanes and excellent road conditions, it’s perfect when it comes to cycling.
What Antwerp offers, which many other cycling cities don’t, is days where cars are not allowed inside, and only bikes are. It’s got many bike rental options, and sharing is available too. One thing you will find with Antwerp is you will never struggle to find a bike shop.
What makes a great cycling city?
When it comes to becoming one of the best cycling cities, there’s a huge amount of criteria they have to meet. For a city to rank highly and score properly, then needs to hit certain criteria. Here’s what they have to score in:
- Bicycle theft levels
- Bicycle usage
- Safety score
- Number of bike shops
- Road quality
- Investment score
- Cycling infrastructure
- Bike sharing and rental
- No car days
- Event score
- Critical mass score
Obviously, some of these, such as the weather, cannot be changed. The majority of this list is something cities can work on to help improve their future with cycling. We see with many cities, it’s a knock on effect. Bringing in cycling infrastructure leads to fewer accidents and fatalities, in turn improving the safety score.
A city to look out for in particular is Paris. They are investing over $300,000,000 to make the city completely safe to ride with a bicycle. They will do this by using a new cycle network and limiting roads. To find out more, check out this article on Paris cycling.
There’s a lot a city needs to do to be excellent for cyclists. If you want to learn more about how the best cycling cities list is judged and where your city sits, check out this article Global Bicycle Cities Index 2022.
Cities moving forward
Cities are having to move forward to ensure they become more cycling friendly in their development. A city in particular we want to speak about is New York. In 2020 they added 63 miles of bicycle lanes, and also included 28 miles of protected bicycle lanes.
New York also continues to expand their relationship with Citi Bike, one of the big bike sharing systems in the US that offers electric bikes. Citi electric bikes provide assistance up to 18mph, helping to power riders across NYC bridges.
Electric bike culture
Electric bikes have changed cycling, and although many cyclists were not sure about them to start, they have quickly come around. They are enjoyed in all cycling clubs, and there are even electric bike groups in cities now where people go and ride together.
There are a lot of meetups in cities now and weekly rides out. Electric bikes have given much more accessibility for people who might not have joined a cycling club before but now feel confident enough to. People no longer felt they had to destroy their legs to keep up. Instead, they found themselves some assistance.
What many cyclists don’t know is how social a sport it is. It’s not about who’s the fastest. It’s about enjoying a journey with people. It’s great coffee and new places you never would have thought to go in a car or walking.
Brands paving the way for electric bikes in cities
When it comes to electric bikes and riding in cities, brands play a big part in their development. If a city can tick the boxes for them to invest money and time into, they will. Here’s who to keep in mind:
Rad Power Bikes are an electric bike brand from the US. They are not only building and sending bikes all over the country, they are also planning to open up many shops. In these shops they want to offer bikes for sale, servicing, and many other services to help people with all their electric bike needs.
Addmotor in the US is bringing some amazing electric bikes to the market. They make large fat tire bikes for cruising, commuting, off-road riding, and they even make trikes too. They are making electric bikes very accessible for many.
Brompton is known worldwide for making some of the best folding bikes available. Their new electric bikes are becoming incredibly popular. In the past year, Brompton has decided to triple production compared to what they have been doing the previous year. We’re very interested to see what they come up with.
Rapha is one of the biggest cycling clothing brands worldwide. They don’t just do clothing. In recent years, they have started the clubhouse. They offer group rides and coffee meet-ups in big cities. They create an amazing community for cyclists, and we feel they bring many like-minded people together.
Other brands to keep in mind
A final note
Electric bikes are going to be part of a brighter future for cities. We can all see a better quality of life with the right development and incorporating them properly. We hope you enjoyed our article and would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.