BBC News

Could e-bikes be the future?

Tom Edwards
Transport correspondent, London
@BBCTomEdwardson Twitter

media captionAre e-Bikes the future of commuting in London?

I was panting my way up quite a steep climb on my bicycle, when suddenly a rider shot past me on what looked like a shopping bike.

Not only did this feel like a huge insult to my climbing prowess, what made it worse was the guy must have been over 65.

Catching him up took a lot of effort and as I sat on his back wheel I realised he was not actually a retired Tour de France rider but he was on an electric bike (e-Bike).

He told me that he absolutely loved it.

My brother-in-law has since bought one and absolutely destroyed me on some horrendously steep hills in Devon.

Now most cyclists you speak to dismiss e-bikes as "cheating" (I admit I have done it myself) but actually what city planners hope the bikes will do is enable and encourage a new type of cyclist.

image captionHundreds of thousands of journeys are made by bicycle in London every day
image captionCould e-bikes soon be taking over on London's cycle highways?

And there are those that think e-bikes, e-scooters and e-mopeds could be the future of urban mobility.

For those who haven't tried it, what e-bikes do is give you a little bit of assistance on the flat, maxing out at 15mph.

And they absolutely sail up any kind of incline. It also means the range you can commute without exerting yourself too much lengthens considerably.

They could also be used by those with mobility issues.

And depending on which power setting you chose, you wouldn't have to arrive at the office a bit sweaty.

image captionThere are currently six cycle Superhighways in London with three more planned

The UK has lagged a little behind Europe with e-bikes, where they are a common sight.

According to the manufacturers I spoke to, half of all bikes sold in Germany are now electric.

But we are catching up and the number of bikes being sold has risen to about 50,000 a year and that's expected to increase even further.

image captionThough thousans of e-bikes are sold in the UK every year it still lags behind Europe with half of all bikes sold in Germany now electric

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is now trying to encourage Londoners to get on e-bikes and thinks they could encourage those who never thought they would cycle get onto two wheels.

It doesn't look like we'll be seeing e-bikes as part of the bike hire scheme but the mayor is now publicising free trials and discounts at

Related Topics

  • Transport for London
  • Sadiq Khan
  • Cycling
  • London transport

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