The pace of the move to electric cars is going at the speed of a snail rather than a sleek Tesla.
But the growth in e-bikes is going like a rocket.
Reports indicate that in the US the sales of e-bikes are running at double the rate of electric cars.
And in the UK it is claimed that an e-bike is being sold every three minutes.
Note that this is happening in a state of constrained supply—many bike shops have waiting lists for months out into the future.
What would the sales be if there wasn’t the acute world-wide shortage of bicycle components of all kinds?
In the UK there were 160,000 e-bikes sold compared to 10,800 electric vehicles (EV), despite the EV’s coming with a government subsidy.
In the US e-bike sales are estimated to have been around 600,000 last year while some 295,000 EV’s sold.
Yet in countries like Australia, the UK and the US, governments just can’t seem to see what is staring them in the face: not only is concentrating on e-bikes first and cars second the quickest, cheapest and easiest way to decarbonise transport, but the market is already signalling the move in that direction.
If public investment is going to be directed into adapting transport for climate change, surely it must be spent in the most effective way, one that gets the best value for the tax payer.
Electric bikes are currently 20 times cheaper than electric cars. A small subsidy can make a big difference to an e-bike purchaser, yet would be tiny in comparison to the cost of rolling out government subsidies for EVs and have taxpayers pay for national charging infrastructure.
The Biden administration has indicated it will commit one to two billion in EV subsidies by next year, with up to half a billion for charging stations, and then an upgrade to the electricity distribution network to get power to the charging stations.
Governments seem obsessed by making EV travel cheap and easy for people making 200 kilometre trips when most trips by car are only a few kilometres—exactly the distance that is trivial and ultra cheap for an e-bike.
In Europe, governments have began to realise that the e-bike equation stacks up, and have been dedicating climate change funding to encouraging the switch to using bikes, e-bikes and cargo bikes for local trips and deliveries.
They are so far ahead of Australia, it is not funny.
At least in some parts of the country the COVID crisis has resulted in a rapid role out of pop up routes that have—for the time being anyway—resulted in a strong uptick of riders in areas where previously bike infrastructure was scarce.
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.