Electric Bike Trial
Electric bikes now account for over a third of bicycle sales in Germany, with the Netherlands and Holland not far behind. These countries have embraced the convenience of the e-bike, and its potential to expand cycling to people who wouldn't, or couldn't, ride a standard bicycle.
However, e-bike popularity is very low in the UK, despite the benefits they can provide to older people, people recovering from injuries or illness, people who want to cycle but live in a hilly area, commuters, and many others. They also have potential for business use, especially e-cargo bikes.
To gauge the different uses e-bikes could serve, WestTrans is running a trial from summer 2018 to spring/summer 2019.
We are using the Gtech City e-bike (pictured left), which is a simple and easy-to-use model but has a 30-mile range, detachable battery and high-quality build. It has a simple power button on the battery to switch on the electric mode, and the rider can then choose between 'Eco' mode, for a light boost, or 'Max' mode to get up that really steep hill.
The trial will be run in two phases. The first phase, begun in June 2018, is in partnership with the London Boroughs of Harrow and Hounslow. We are providing free e-bikes to council staff, to use to get to and from work and for site visits.
At Hounslow (pictured below), the e-bikes are integrated into the existing fleet of hire bikes for staff, with staff signing a document pack on cycle safety and signing out the bike on a register. The bikes will be used for a variety of journeys, including staff borrowing them for one- or two-week periods to commute, using them for site visits and travelling to meetings around Hounslow.
At Harrow (pictured below), the staff are borrowing the bikes for one month at a time on a more formal basis, as there is no pool bike fleet available. The bikes will be used for commuting, site visits and other journeys by one member of staff for the whole month, before they return it for the next staff member to borrow.
WestTrans has provided helmets, D-locks and security cables, mudguards and lights for the bikes. These were provided, along with the assembly and delivery of the bikes, by London Bike Hub.
The bikes are all being tracked by GPS trackers, which anonymously upload the bike's location to a cloud server. This is stored in a small saddlebag just under the bike's saddle.
After six months, we will look at the collected data to see what types and durations of journey the ebikes are being used for, and whether they are encouraging the staff to switch to an active commute.
In phase two, starting July 2018, we will roll out the trial to businesses across West London. They will borrow an ebike from us for a short period for their staff to use for deliveries, site visits, client trips, or commutes.
We are hopeful that running this trial will encourage greater adoption of e-bikes, and wider cycling, particularly for groups who have low cycling levels at the moment.
Please contact Emily if you work at a local business in West London and would like to take part in our trial: ShovlarE@ealing.gov.uk.