Electric power-assisted bicycles (also known as e-bikes) have hit the scene and are making a major impression. While they look like normal two-wheelers, they have a built-in electric motor for to assist wth propulsion. As with buying a regular bike, getting an e-bike requires the right fit. Stop into a store near you and talk to a specialist.
Most people who rule out commuting to work by bike do so because of the sweat factor. However, the combo of cruising and cycling that e-bikes provide saves you some effort, so you can burn some calories but prevent your ride from becoming a full-blown workout you’re not dressed for.
A LIGHTER CARBON FOOTPRINT
Obviously, since electric cycling doesn’t consume petrol, your e-bike emits a lot less carbon than a car would. This also contributes to less congestion on the roads and therefore less wear and tear on the roads.
In most states, riding an e-bike doesn’t require a special license, registration, or insurance. Therefore, investment and operating costs are almost nothing compared to a car. E-bike prices range between $1,000 and $4,000. This might seem pricey but when you stack up petrol prices, registration and parking fees, you’ll come out in the green, plus you are getting the added benefit of fitness. While buying an electric bike may be a large investment, it is a case of getting what you pay for. It makes your daily commute quicker, easier, healthy and environmentally friendly.
In Western Australia, there are two categories of power assisted pedal cycles (PAPC):
- Those with a maximum power output of 200 watts, and
- Pedelecs, which are a form of electric bicycle that complies with the European Standard EN 15194
To be compliant, a pedelec must:
- Have a maximum continuous power output of the motor which does not exceed 250 watts.
- Have an electric motor.
- Require the rider to pedal to access the power.
- Have the power cut out when the pedelec reaches 25 km/h, or sooner if the rider stops pedalling.
- Be certified by the manufacturer and labelled as complying with EN 15194, i.e. the label must include the manufacturers name, the motor’s cut-off speed in km/h and the electric motor’s maximum continuous rated power output in watts.
In Western Australia, PAPCs can be used by people aged 16 years and older on shared paths with the power engaged.
A PAPC which uses the engine as the primary source of power and/or has an engine capacity which exceeds 250 watts is classified as a motorbike and must be registered and ridden by a licenced rider and cannot be ridden on shared paths.
The RAC conducted a 10- week trial of e-bikes in late 2015 with 40 employees of four workplaces (10 employees from each) having exclusive use of an e-Bike for their commute to and from work, as well as any other trips they wanted to make.
Participants reported their e-Bike usage and experiences throughout the Trial, with the aim to use this information to promote the uptake of e-Bikes, and potentially to inform future e-Bike or bike share schemes.
Some of the topline results include:
- 83% of participants already owned a regular bike before the Trial, however only 45% cycled at least once a week for any purpose.
- 61% of trips to and from work before the Trial were by car, this decreased to an average of 32% during the Trial.
- 55% of all commuting trips over the 10 weeks were solely made by e-Bike.
- Over the 10 weeks participants made 1,778 e-Bike trips, 81% for commuting to and from work and 19% for other purposes such as for fitness, leisure and shopping.
- e-Bike usage remained high throughout the Trial, peaking at 65% in Week Six and only decreasing to 48% in the last week.
- The most frequently given reason for using the e-Bike for commuting purposes was for fitness / exercise (77%), followed by enjoyment / comfort (66%) and because the participants destinations were within a reasonable cycling distance (59%).
Also refer to the RAC e-Bike Trial Topline Results December 2015 infographic.
This information has been sourced from:
Department of Transport website – http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/activetransport/25169.asp [January 2016]
Dunn, M (Jan 2016) The simple solution to the inner-city commute: news.com.au
Hodapp, P (2015) Why You Need An Electric Bike – Gear & Tech: Men’s Fitness Magazine online
RAC WA website – http://rac.com.au/news-community/road-safety-and-transport/cycling/e-bike-trial [January 2016]