Residents ‘have a go’ on e-bikes

The Smart e-bikes project loaned Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) three electric bikes for three events in February and March 2014 as part of the Personalised Travel Planning (PTP) scheme. PTP aims to help residents think about the way they travel around Brighton and Hove and supports them in making more sustainable travel choices.

The aim of the e-bike trial sessions was to give residents the opportunity to ‘have-a-go’ on an e-bike and get feed-back on their experience which it was hoped would add value to the Smart e-bike project.

BHCC offered residents the opportunity to try one of the e-bikes for free with a qualified e-bike cycling instructor at the events. The three events were:

  • Energy Café, Hollingdean Community Centre, 15th February, 2014.
  • Bike Hub, Love Your Bike Week, Circus Street, 19th February, 2014
  • Positive Energy, Hanover Community Centre, March 15th, 2014

18 residents signed up (9 at Hollingdean, 6 at Circus Street and 3 at Hanover) and had a go with each ‘lesson’ varying in length depending on the ability/confidence of the cyclist. 7 residents asked to be kept in touch with the smart e-bikes trial.

The participants were asked for feed-back on their experience and the following is a summary:

On a positive note:

  • All said they had enjoyed the experience.
  • Many said that it was great fun
  • Great for cycling up-hill
  • Electric mode provided more power than expected
  • Good that you still have to do some pedalling
  • Made cycling easier

Not so positive:

  • Bikes felt heavy to lift (although not to cycle)
  • Expensive to purchase
  • Felt big
  • Charging battery often

And a few quotes from residents:

  • ‘helpful to my partner who has arthritis’
  • ‘easy’
  • ‘comfortable’
  • ‘better option than buying a car’
  • ‘like riding a normal bike’
  • ‘bringing life again’

Steve Kelly, a Transport Planner for BHCC who organised the events, wrote the following short report on the e-bike sessions.

“I cycled the e-bikes a few time a week, for 5 weeks, mainly between Hollingdean and Hove and attended the three events. During this time I cycled on the flat and on many hills, in sunshine and pouring rain. I also looked after the e-bikes between the events, doing simple safety checks and making sure the batteries were charged.

I really enjoyed riding the e-bikes and found them especially good when in electric mode against the wind on the sea-front. They were also great when having to ‘get away’ at busy junctions which were up-hill; cycling up any hill could also be made much easier. They were also great fun.

On the down-side, I’d agree with the comments about feeling big and heavy, but I guess as technology develops they will become lighter. I also felt uncomfortable about leaving them locked up anywhere other than in the agreed locked storage (so didn’t), but if I owned one myself this would be less of an issue.

My ‘stand – out moment’ from the three trials was watching the resident who wasn’t able to cycle any more (due to health reasons) but was able to have a go on the e-bike.

I think there is potential ‘out there’ for e-bikes to help people be active in the fresh air.”