The government is reported to be planning to introduce a scheme in the spring to subsidise people buying electric bikes. Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris is reported to have confirmed the government’s intention to launch a subsidy scheme similar to that which currently applies to electric cars.
The idea was first suggested in the government’s Gear Change strategy paper published in July this year, but the news represents a real, tangible positive step forward in making e-bikes more accessible to everyone.
Pure Electric’s Tom McPhail, Director of Public Affairs, said: “It’s fantastic that the government is following through on its commitment to support electric bike use. E-bikes will play a major role in transforming travel in Britain. They’re the perfect combination of convenience, cost, environmental responsibility and health benefits – fast forward 10 years and five million homes in the UK will be regularly using an e-bike.
“Unfortunately, in the short term this announcement is going to cause problems. People will read this news and they may hold off buying an e-bike to wait for the subsidy. This could put smaller bike retailers under pressure in the months to come, while it also overlooks the fact that by next spring, the world will be running out of e-bikes, again.
“We saw major e-bike stock shortages at the end of the summer as stock levels ran down; some factories are running 24/7 to catch up and we still expect supplies will come under pressure again next year. Anyone thinking of buying an e-bike may do well to do so now to beat the expected rush.
“In the meantime, the government now needs to confirm that any e-bike purchases from today will be able to apply retrospectively for the subsidy when it is introduced next year.”
E-bikes in the UK
E-bikes in the UK are termed ‘Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles. They’re largely treated the same as pedal bikes, except you’re not supposed to use one if you’re under the age of 14 years. E-bikes are limited to 250 watts power output and their pedal assistance cuts out at 15.5 mph (though they can still go faster under muscle or gravity power).
In spite of their power assistance, e-bikes still give most of the health benefits of a pedal bicycle. Multiple academic studies show that e-bikers travel further and achieve almost the same physiological and psychological benefits as their counterparts on conventional bikes. They also make it possible to many people to ride a bike, who would not otherwise do so. E-bikes flatten hills and solve the problem of arriving at your destination hot and sweaty.
In more than one study, e-bikes have also been found to be the most environmentally-friendly form of transport of all. They are of course better than cars but they’re also better than buses, ordinary pedal bikes and even walking.