Incentivise e-bikes, not e-cars

Nearly every major car company has signalled a switch from internal combustion to electric power within the decade as consumers swing to clean power, partly on the back of government incentives.

With governments keen to meet CO2 targets, various incentives for electric vehicles are on offer.

But now questions are being asked if these incentives are really the best option.

Would we get better air quality quicker if we were subsidising e-bikes instead? Or as well as?

Recent research for the Bicycle Association (BA) in the UK from consultancy Transport for Quality of Life arguers yes: incentives to boost e-bikes are better-value, more equitable and healthier than subsidising the purchase of electric cars, and could potentially achieve change more quickly.

The research shows that the cost of saving a kilogram of CO2 via schemes to boost e-bikes is less than half the cost of existing grants for electric cars and at a cost-per-purchase of less than one-tenth of the UK grant for electric cars.

The BA believes that electric vehicles will play a key role in decarbonising all forms of transport, but argues that e-bikes should be a top priority for urgent government support.

The evidence shows that around half of all trips by e-bike replace a trip that would have been made by car.

E-bikes are also used for longer trips than conventional bikes, so their potential to reduce carbon emissions, air pollution and congestion is greater.

Unlike electric cars, which tackle pollution but do not tackle congestion, e-bikes are ready now for mass adoption.

Steve Garidis, executive director of the BA said: “The time is right for national Government and city regions to kick-start wider e-bike uptake with purchase incentive schemes.

"The results in terms of CO2 and congestion reduction will be fast and at a remarkably low cost – a game-changer in clean urban transport.”

In a second report commissioned by the BA from Transport for Quality of Life, evidence shows that up to 30% of commercial van journeys in urban areas could be substituted by e-cargo bike deliveries, with significant scope to reduce congestion and air pollution.

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