Response to OLEV call for evidence

Response to OLEV call for evidence on Government measures to support uptake of ultra low emission vehicles from 2015-2020

The Smart e-bikes Project research team: Sally Cairns (TRL and UCL), Frauke Behrendt (University of Brighton) and David Raffo (University of Ulster) with specialist advice from Andy Cope (Sustrans) and Lynn Sloman (Transport for Quality of Life) made a response to the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV)’s call.

The team’s overall contention is that OLEV should make electrically-assisted bikes a priority component of their 2015-2020 programme, and support their uptake in a number of different ways.

As noted in a recent OECD discussion paper, globally, the overwhelming majority of electric vehicles are electric bikes and scooters.

Electrically-assisted bikes offer considerable advantages over other types of electric vehicles in that:

  • They are relatively cheap, thereby making them accessible to a wider range of people than electric cars/vans – and with potential social inclusion benefits (for example, they have been offered in some ‘Wheels to Work’ schemes, enabling jobseekers to take up new employment opportunities).
  • Unlike other options, they offer potential health benefits through the physical activity generated, which has been shown to be sufficient to be of value, as discussed further below.
  • They make relatively efficient use of road space, which may be particularly important in dense urban environments, where road space is constrained.

In brief, support for electrically-assisted bikes could potentially deliver excellent value for money, reaching relatively large numbers of people, and achieving economic and health benefits, in addition to environmental benefits.

It should be noted that the number of electrically-assisted bikes sold in the UK already far outstrips the number of electric cars and vans sold. In 2009, the British Electric Bike Association reported that over 15,000 units were sold in the UK. For 2011, a figure of 20,000 is quoted, and the market is thought to have expanded since that time.

The remainder of the team’s response comprises:

  • A brief definition of electrically-assisted bikes, and a short summary of their environmental and health credentials.
  • A summary of potential policy measures that could be considered.
  • A summary of some of the results from our research work, suggesting the potential of this type of transport.

To read the full response: OLEV call for evidence response – e-bikes