The topic of urban mobility and urban cycling, in particular, has clearly gained immense interest over the past few years.
With the bike sharing surge in popularity in 2007 after big European cities introduced their bike sharing systems to the public, it has become clear - bike is a future of mobility.
10 years later, we are now experiencing another wave of public interest in cycling and bike sharing.
Over this time humanity introduced electric cars and autonomous driving, artificial intelligence is rapidly taking a toll over many operations and none of the mobility industries could allow stagnation following this amount of innovation. So did a bike. A two-wheeled vehicle received multiple updates within the last decade.
A time-efficient commuting option got electrified which expanded its areas of application and the age range of users. The hardware has become more robust and able to withstand variable weather conditions. Style and design lost its limit and, nowadays, give us an opportunity to choose among a great variety of handlebars, saddles, wheels, tyres, gear and other cycling accessories.
Countless improvements have definitely worked as an enticing factor for many commuting option seekers, yet what exactly caused such a drastic rise in bike popularity and is car electrification a trait of a cleaner future?
To answer these questions, one doesn’t need to compare the vehicles, but pay attention to the needs and conditions of the users.
It’s a common knowledge, that by 2020 world’s population is forecasted to hit the mark of 8 billion souls, i.e. 400 million more than today. With the current pace of urbanisation and globalisation as well as the ever rising demand for not only convenient and fast, but also sustainable commuting options, the world has come to the realisation of space scarcity, specifically, urban space scarcity.
For this reason, some of the most forward-looking cities in the world have taken up on the smart urban mobility infrastructure decades ago to build what is now called a smart city. Cities like Copenhagen, Utrecht, Amsterdam have gone far beyond the understanding of the term, by focusing on the needs of a person, not technology. This focus incorporates green, fast and efficient means. Green transport isn’t a trend, it is a basic need for each inhabitant. Planning the cities in the most comfortable way for cycling and pedestrians is what a smart city incorporates in its meaning.
Cities like Dallas and Los Angeles, in their turn, have noticed merely a change towards more active usage of public transport or alternative means e.g. cycling, after the municipalities expanded the volume of roads.
When air pollution indices in the urban areas started skyrocketing, numerous governments around the world mandated a transition to electric cars. A seemingly logical step towards the positive change in the world of mobility, yet quite an inadequate method. We can reduce carbon footprints by electrifying cars, but urban space scarcity still won’t be addressed.
In this specific case, we should also recognise types of an average commute. According to the recent studies, some 71% of trips not exceeding 9km within the city are performed by cars. Adding time spent in traffic and on finding the parking spot, parking costs, emissions level and lack of physical activity, we are witnessing a rough case of inadequate mobility means application.
We do not preach an absolute refusal from e-cars, we do believe that global shift from gasoline powered vehicles towards electrical cars is indeed a positive and forward-looking change. Yet, we tirelessly promote e-bike as an ultimate vehicle of the urban future, as it can resolve many of the challenges like grid-locked cities, dissatisfactory quality of the air, space scarcity and health conditions of an urban citizen, to emphasise the least.
Would electric cars supersede electric bikes? Would electric bikes receive absolute monarchy in the urban world of vehicles? We think, none of the above. Both means of transportation will definitely gain a good share of reliability in the life of an urban commuter. Yet, with such a density of population forecasted and environmental consequences knocking into our doors, we believe, massive volume of commuting experience in the urban areas will fall onto e-bikes as the fastest, most sustainable urban commuting option.