The wonderful world of electric bikes

A bit of background

As we’ve seen from our comparison of EVs (electric vehicles) and the humble bicycle, EVs aren’t the answer to our climate and transport woes some would have us believe. Electric bikes, however, fair much better in our quest for clean, green, healthy, fair, efficient and pleasant city transport.

First, a note about walking: Walking is great. We’re big fans of walking here at Cardiff Cycle City: It’s physically active, zero carbon, non-polluting, zero noise and casualties, and provides high throughput capacity. However, it has its limitations: Speed, practical range and carrying capacity can all be issues unless you’re travelling light for short journeys. That’s where bicycles, and eBikes, come in.

You can ride an electric bike (‘electrically assisted pedal cycle’ or EAPC) from the age of 14. You don’t need a licence, registration, tax or insurance.

Legal eBikes use an electric motor with a maximum power output of 250 watts, which cuts out assistance when it reaches 15.5mph, only provide assistance when the rider pedals, and are classed as normal pedal bikes so can be ridden on cycle paths and anywhere else regular non-electric pedal bikes are allowed.

These legal ‘EAPC’ electric bikes are quite distinct from electric bikes that can be propelled without pedalling (‘twist and go’) and don’t limit assistance to 15.5mph; such bikes are classed as motorcycles or mopeds, need to be registered and taxed, need a driving licence and a crash helmet, and are suited to road use rather than active travel and cycling infrastructure.

The transformational power of eBikes

In our quest for clean, green, healthy, fair, efficient and pleasant city transport, eBikes can be transformational:

In most city scenarios their range far outstrips that of walking; getting the rider further and faster.

They “level” ability (and hills!) so that significant cycling journeys in and around our city are no longer the preserve of fit riders. This opens up cycling to a much wider demographic, including the elderly, those with disabilities, or those wishing to transport passengers and/or weighty cargo.

You arrive fresher, yet there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that legal ‘EAPC’ electric bikes confer the same (mental and physical) health benefits as non-assisted bicycles.

There’s an increasing diversity of eBike types (including town bikes, small folding bikes, trikes, cargo bikes) that lend themselves to a variety of uses for a variety of types of rider.

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