E-bikes could cut the UK’s carbon dioxide (CO2) transport emissions in half whilst offering workers a safe and sustainable route back to work, experts say.
University of Leeds researchers from the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) found that e-bikes, if used to replace car travel, have the capability to cut car carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in England by up to 50% – about 30 million tonnes per year.
Even replacing just 20% of car miles travelled with e-bike travel would mean 4-8 million fewer tonnes of carbon emitted each year, according to their analysis.
The greatest impact on carbon emissions would come from e-bike use outside urban centres. In Denmark, e-bike routes are already linking cities to towns and villages. e-bikes can help people make longer journeys than conventional cycles, and could bring new transport options to people living outside urban centres. In the post-coronavirus recovery, e-bikes could offer a safe way for people to travel.
Researchers also found that e-bikes could help to cut the costs of travel in neighbourhoods characterised by low incomes, limited access to public transport and where many car journeys could be replaced with e-bike use.
E-scooters will be trialled in four English regions to encourage commuters to stay off public transport during the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK is the last major European economy where e-scooters are banned everywhere except on private land. However, the government believes the technology could help ease pressure on local public transport services, especially for short trips.
Dr Ian Philips (University of Leeds & CREDS), who led the research, said: ‘The strategic potential of e-bikes as a mass-transport option has been overlooked by policymakers so far. The research began as a way to measure the potential carbon savings that e-bikes can offer, but as we emerge from the lockdown, e-bikes can be part of the solution to getting people safely mobile once again.
‘We’re recommending that governments across the UK should find ways to incentivise e-bike use to replace car journeys. As well as lowering carbon emissions from transport, e-bikes have the potential to improve the mobility options for people and communities at risk of transport poverty.’
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