UK Government Consider E-bike Subsidies
The electric bike is one of the most difficult types of bike, financially, for most people to access. With prices starting at around £1,000, it puts ebikes out of reach of many cyclists.
The electric bike is one of the most difficult types of bike, financially, for most people to access. With prices starting at around £1,000, it puts ebikes out of reach of many cyclists.This includes some who are self-employed, those on benefits and retired people, who aren’t eligible for tax-free bikes under the Cycle to Work scheme.I love my own ebike, and how it takes me to places I wouldn’t otherwise cycle, unlocking the benefits of riding an electric bike. With electric motors that activate when you pedal, ebikes have helped me ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats in nine days, and across hilly Cornwall laden with panniers.Crucially, ebikes enable everyday cycling trips. Research found with a national network of safe routes, one in five trips could be made by bike. With widespread ebike access, that would be as high as one in four.
Electric bikes can replace car trips
With 27 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions coming from transport and 91 per cent of that figure from roads, how much closer could electric bikes take us to meeting our fast-approaching carbon-reduction targets?We know dropping the barriers to ebike ownership boosts uptake – and a purchase subsidy is a powerful way to do this.As things stand, ebikes are the only electric vehicle without a purchase subsidy in the UK, but they’re arguably the most effective – and cost-effective – at replacing car trips.A 2019 review of European ebike purchase subsidies by the Bicycle Association found on average 40 to 60 per cent of ebike trips generated by the scheme replaced car trips.
In France, purchase subsidy recipients increased their cycling from an average of 200km to 1,400km a year, and reduced their car trips by 660km. Many wouldn’t have ridden at all without an ebike. According to the Bicycle Association, ebike grants would cut carbon at around half the cost of electric car subsidies. The UK Government has cut electric car purchase subsidies and the cycling industry is, unsurprisingly, calling for money for ebikes instead.
While Cycling UK has launched its ‘Cycling made e-asy‘ ebike scheme, with bike loans and try-before-you-buy events, the trial is operating in only five pilot areas and stops short of purchase subsidies.
Some believe such a move would help only more wealthy people, who they believe would buy an ebike anyway to save money. However, surely the same could be said for electric vehicles?
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