Here’s another PCT case study, for West Sussex this time – inspired by my invitation to the West Sussex Cycle Forum.

For Preston, I focused on the Go Dutch scenario, and for Rotherhithe, the Government Target scenario. In West Sussex I decided to explore the impacts of the e-bike scenario. From the report, here’s why e-bikes matter, particularly in hillier areas:

In the UK e-bikes are still seen as a niche product. However, in many parts of Germany and Switzerland e-bikes make up a substantial proportion of new bike purchases: 11% of all bicycles sold in Germany are e-bikes (Schleinitz et al in press). Fishman and Cherry (2016) note that e-bikes represent one of the fastest growing segments of the transport market. E-bikes increase cycle use and have health and CO2 benefits, with the largest market currently being China, followed by The Netherlands and Germany. In four years, sales in Europe have doubled and in the United States have almost quadrupled (Fishman and Cherry 2016).

Potentially, e-bikes could also contribute to improved age and/or gender balance, as well as enabling more cycling by disabled people. Dill and Rose (2012) identify key demographic markets for e-bikes within the United States as being ‘women, older adults, and people with physical limitations’. Reporting a Norwegian study, Fyhri and Fearnley (2015) found that giving e-bikes to study participants led to an increase both in number of trips cycled and cycled distances, with the effect larger for female than for male cyclists. Literature and data on e-bikes, while still limited, suggests that if cycling takes off, e-bikes will be increasingly popular and should help grow cycling further, particularly in hillier areas.

The quantitative and qualitative changes in cycling enabled by e-bikes may provide additional reasons why high quality infrastructure is necessary. For example, a wider range of speeds on cycle paths (and use of wider e-cycles, such as cargo bikes) implies the need for space for passing slower riders.