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.”

e-bikes in action at three events in Brighton

Brighton and Hove City Council’s Transport Planning Department are borrowing three of our electric bikes for three community events in Brighton. Members of the public will see the bikes in action and some people will have the opportunity to ride an e-bike for up to an hour in a free cycle training session with a qualified cycle trainer.

Saturday, 15th February 2014
1.00 – 5.00 pm
The Energy Café
Hollingdean Community Centre, Thompson Road, Brighton
energy cafe

Wednesday, 19th February 2014
11.00 am – 3.00 pm
The launch of a new ‘Bike Hub’
Circus Street, Brighton
brightonbikehub

Friday, 21st March 2014
4.30 – 7.00 pm
An event prior to a ‘Positive Energy’ meeting at the Centre
Hanover Community Centre, Brighton
(More information to follow.)

Smart e-bikes at the Eco Technology Show

The Smart e-bikes Project had a stand at the Eco Technology Show held at Brighton Centre on 14 – 15 June 2013. One of the excellent cycle trainers used by the project was on hand on both days to give advice and help people who wanted to ‘have a go’ on a Raleigh Dover bike (one of the bikes used for the trials) and people seemed to enjoy the experience of whizzing around the area at the back of the ground floor of the Brighton Centre.

Several people were interested in finding out more about the project and it was a worthwhile experience for the project team and a chance to meet and discuss the project with members of the public and other people interested in sustainability and alternative transport.

On Friday, 14th June at a talk entitled Bupa International taps into pedal power: Will we all be riding e-bikes in years to come?, Harriet Barratt Dorling, Manager of Economic and Social Engagement in the Arts at the University of Brighton’s Faculty of Arts, gave a short presentation on the research project, its aims and methodologies. A Bupa employee who took part in the Smart e-bikes research trial gave a first hand account of how she found the experience of using an electric bike. Although she enjoyed the experience, she explained that she is a very keen cyclist and over the period of the 2 month trial she noticed that her levels of fitness had dropped. However, she did stress that she cycles every day on a normal bike and felt that for most people this would not be a problem as she believed that the opportunity to use an electric bike was mostly beneficial and more likely to encourage exercise and the use of a bike for the majority of people.

Bupa International was the initial company to be involved with the Smart e-bikes Project and the data collected from the trials forms an integral part of the research for the project. Forty-one Bupa staff took part in 2 sets of trials between June and November 2012.

Latest news from the project

The Smart e-bikes Research Project has recently published two videos about its work, and also features on the Guardian website.

SMART E-BIKES VIDEOS

We have recently uploaded 2 videos, which were filmed during an e-bikes trial event in Brighton on 9th March 2013.

The aim of the event was to raise public awareness of e-cycling, by offering free training to members of the public, and to gather information for the research project. The event was organised by the University of Brighton and Brighton & Hove City Council, and funded by the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

One video provides interviews with the participants at the event and captures their attitudes and insights. The other video concentrates on the nature of the project research – explaining its rationale, the trials involving a fleet of 35 e-bikes in Brighton and Hove, and the development of an open-source/sensor monitoring system that enables real-time display of rider data, plus research analysis.

The videos are available at: http://www.youtube.com/user/smartebikes
https://vimeo.com/71895660 and https://vimeo.com/71895116

 

FEATURE ON THE GUARDIAN WEBSITE

A thoughtful article, written by Dr Frauke Behrendt, the Smart e-bikes Project Leader, has recently been published on the Guardian Sustainable Business partner zone, entitled “Using electrically-assisted bikes: lazy cheaters or healthy travellers?”

It is available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/electrically-assisted-bikes-lazy-or-healthy

E-bikes power up Brighton on Saturday 9 March

People from Brighton and Hove are being invited to try out new electrically-assisted bikes in a bid to boost cycling in the UK.

The e-bikes, as they are known, are being tested at a free event in Preston Park, Brighton, next Saturday (9 March) and are part of a University of Brighton-led project to increase the number of people who travel by bike.

The project is led by Dr Frauke Behrendt, a researcher from the university’s Faculty of Arts, and is funded by a three-year grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The research team has been working with Brighton & Hove Council over the past year to trial the e-bikes across the city. The public event is co-funded by the LSTF (Local Sustainable Transport Fund).

E-bikes are fitted with rechargeable batteries which help when riders pedal against head-winds or up steep hills. They are very popular on the continent but have yet to become widely-used in the UK. The project partners hope that by pioneering their use in the UK, they can create more interest in e-bikes and encourage a wider range of people to cycle.

At the event members of the public who have expressed an interest in trying the bikes will be able to put them through their paces. Access to specialist one-to-one cycle training for the e-bikes will also be provided. Travel advisers from the council will also be available to talk to people about their travel options in Brighton & Hove.

Anyone who would like to try the bikes or receive training must register in advance, as spaces are limited. To register please complete the online survey – https://www.smart-survey.co.uk/s/70852GGOXP or call 01273 642689.

The 35 bikes involved in the trial are made by project partner and manufacturer Raleigh UK. Local company Baker St Bikes is also supporting the project by providing e-bike maintenance and advice to the public, while M-Cycle is providing the e-cycle training.

Notes for editors:

1. Contact for a case study: Maria Robinson from M-Cycle,maria@M-CYCLEHIRE.CO.UK)
2. Interviewees from Brighton & Hove City Council (Abby Hone, abby.hone@brighton-hove.gov.uk, University of Brighton (Frauke Behrendt, f.behrendt@brighton.ac.uk), Baker St Bikes (Chris Balchin, 01273 675754), and cycle trainer Maria Robinson from M-Cycle maria@M-CYCLEHIRE.CO.UK available on request
3.  There will be photo opportunities on 9 March with members of public testing the e-bikes and receiving specialist tuition. Please contact kathy.caton@googlemail.com for further details if you wish to attend to photograph/report on the event.
4. A three-year grant from the EPSRC has enabled Dr Behrendt, and colleagues Dr Sally Cairns from TRL (Transport Research Laboratory ) and UCL (University College London), and David Raffo, from University of Ulster, to set up the ‘smart e-bikes’ project. The project developed out of an event which focused on encouraging more sustainable travel behaviour, habits and practices.