7 December 2018

Pedal Power

There’s nothing worse than being stuck behind a cyclist carelessly peddling in the middle of the road. Quite frankly, I can’t stand it. They choose when they want to abide by the rules and verbally abuse any passing cars like rabid dogs, foaming at the mouth. What’s worse is that my local council have decided to spend millions on new road infrastructure that makes drivers’ lives a living hell so that cyclists can enjoy their ride into work - which is mysteriously lifeless over the winter season…

By now, you can probably feel my frustration permeating through your screen. However, what is about to follow may be surprising. The other day, whilst I suffocated the steering wheel of my car as I crawled along behind a group of cyclists, I looked at myself in the rearview mirror and questioned who was in the right here. The business woman sat on an environmentally-friendly and hyper-efficient e-bike, or the distressed man behind her in a fossil-fueled car? Despite my heated seats, I came to the conclusion that it was her.

Now, I didn’t exactly jump out of my car and grab the first bike that I saw, but it made me understand that bikes are to play an essential role in congested cities around the world which are on the brink of a crisis. Millions of people each day are sitting in traffic trying to beat the relentless rush hour, making their lives more stressful and damaging the environment. What makes this worse is that many of these cities have inadequate public transport networks, which provides a pretty obvious choice for many when travelling.

Conventional vehicles are no longer the solution to urban travel, which is why we are seeing a growing interest in alternative energy and mobility as a service. But this all takes time, which is why I believe e-bikes - and e-scooters, despite making you look like a schoolchild - are the most effective solution to the momentous change we are experiencing in urban ecosystems today. Privatised cars have no place here, especially those running on petrol and diesel.

With 2019 on the horizon, expect to see an influx of shared e-bikes which produce absolutely zero emissions. In addition to this, most e-bikes today are being paid for by the private sector and rental costs are dirt cheap, so will most likely attract a large consumer base - especially from tourists who want to explore the city. This also allows more space within cities, removing the abundance of vehicles and allowing the public to go about their day in a cleaner, quieter and safer environment.

These e-bikes have already had such an impact of the global mobility stage that companies such as Uber are heavily investing before their own vehicle services take a hit. The whole ‘rent-a-bike’ business is nothing new; we’ve already seen government initiatives in the past like Boris Bikes and, to be honest, e-bikes are not too different. However, this updated mode of transport allows longer and easier journeys through the city, which will replace many taxis and personal cars in the area. The switch over to e-mobility - in this case, the e-bike - offers new opportunities for cities, from infrastructure costs to the reduction of congestion and pollution.

Society has relied on cars for over 100 years but, now, it’s time to welcome in a new era of cleaner and more efficient urban mobility. So remove your hand from your horn, take a deep breath and treat the cyclist that may or may not be clogging up the road… because it might be you soon.

Alex Kreetzer

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