COVID-19 has caused the biggest disruption to travel patterns in living memory. With more people working from home, traffic volumes have dropped between 40 – 70% across Melbourne. It is unclear when a return to ‘normal’ may eventuate. Australia is now suffering through the sharpest economic contraction since the 1930s.
During this time of mass disruption, it is worth re-assessing our household transport fleet, to seek ways of lowering costs and our transport emissions.
E-bikes are a rapidly growing transport mode. Although reliable figures are hard to come by in Australia, it is estimated e-bikes sales are doubling each year. In the Netherlands, one in two new bikes sold are e-bikes. Surveys have shown that e-bike owners ride 50% more frequently than those using standard bikes and that each bike trip is, on average, twice the distance of a standard bike trip. E-bikes are also used to replace car trips at a much higher rate. Put simply, e-bikes enable us to maintain speed, with less effort.
The growing e-bike revolution has enabled a larger range of bikes that are designed to complete an ever-widening set of tasks. Small wheeled, long-tail e-bikes help parents carry two or three kids and the shopping. E-commuter bikes help people get to work without the sweat. Quality e-bikes can now go 80 – 120km between battery chargers, meaning for many people, they only need to be plugged in once a week and cost around 15 cents per charge.
E-bikes are a perfect tool for those looking to avoid public transport in pandemic times. The improvements in reliability, variety and battery range offer a compelling value proposition to be able to get around without the hassle of a car, but will many of the advantages of a motor when you need it (going up hills, riding in a headwind).
Just has the e-bike has been evolving, so has the way to pay for them. There are now a number of options to lease high-quality e-bikes to avoid up-front costs. This gives the rider the flexibility to up or downgrade based on their experience, without the long-term commitment that comes from outright purchase.
The table below compares the weekly costs of a Toyota Camry Hybrid, based on RACV figures and an e-bike, the Kalkhoff Endeavour 1.B . It shows that a Camry costs almost four times as much (and this does not include parking costs or fines). Using a high quality e-bike to replace a car can save over $15,000 over just two years, as shown in the table below.
| Average car (Camry Hybrid) || E-bike ( Kalkhoff Endeavour 1.B )|
|Total cost per week||$191.01^||$42.46|
|Cost over 2 years||$19,864||$4416|