The bicycle: e-mobility and the future on two wheels

New con­cepts and desi­gns are embed­ding cycle use more widely in all sec­ti­ons of society and the eco­nomy. Cycle trai­lers and cargo bikes are more widely used and are play­ing an incre­a­sin­gly import­ant role in the urban eco­nomy – and in hel­ping fami­lies to orga­nise their lives. The incre­a­sed use of bicy­cles and  expan­sion of the use of pede­lecs as well as the impro­ving sta­tus of the bicy­cle will lead to fur­ther incre­a­ses in sales of bikes and bike acces­so­ries over the next few years – and in the per­cei­ved value of the bicy­cle. 

In any event, the bicy­cle is lea­ding the way in terms of bat­tery-based e-mobi­lity. E-bikes bridge the gap bet­ween the bicy­cle and the car mar­ket. 2014 saw 8,522 new elec­tric cars regis­te­red in Ger­many, but this com­pa­red to pede­lec sales of 480,000. Elec­tric bikes are key to deve­lop­ments in the cycling sec­tor and for incre­a­sing bike use, because they are very ver­sa­tile, the tech­no­logy has been per­fec­ted, and they are affor­da­ble for large sec­ti­ons of the popu­la­tion. 

Pede­lecs make cycling easy even in hilly regi­ons because the back-up power con­si­dera­bly redu­ces the effort requi­red to get up hills. They also open up new oppor­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple who don't think they are fit enough for con­ven­tio­nal cycling, as well as for com­mu­ters. Pede­lecs the­re­fore mean that for many peo­ple e-mobi­lity has already become a natu­ral part of the way they get around on a day-to-day basis: the Zwei­rad-Indus­trie-Ver­band (ZIV) esti­ma­tes that 560,000 e-bikes were sold in Ger­many in 2016, an incre­ase of five per­cent com­pa­red to the pre­vious year. 

This is because the e-bike and pede­lecs offer new usage opti­ons: almost half of car jour­neys are less than five kilo­me­tres (three miles) long. These trips can easily be done by bike. Elec­tri­cally power-assis­ted bicy­cles expand the bicy­cle's pos­si­ble range of uses in many dif­fe­rent ways: pede­lecs and e-bikes make much lon­ger jour­neys pos­si­ble. Elec­tric-­as­sist cargo bikes are used as family vehic­les and in many sec­tor of the eco­no­my­. For exam­ple, inner-city deli­very ser­vices can impro­ve­ their com­pe­ti­tiven­ess by using fle­­xi­ble, elec­tric-assist cargo bikes. The advan­ta­ges of cargo bikes are their fle­xi­bi­lity, their speed in an urban set­ting, and their lack of emis­si­ons, so they too make a big con­tri­bu­tion to sustaina­ble mobi­lity. 

Mea­su­res for pro­mo­ting and encou­ra­ging the use of pede­lecs are set out in the RadSTRATEGIE (cycling stra­t­egy) docu­ment drawn by the Baden-Würt­tem­berg state admi­nis­tra­tion. In this con­text, the state admi­nis­tra­tion is devi­sing a basic stra­t­egy for pro­mo­ting cycling e-mobi­lity which covers all fields of use. The crea­tion of a com­pre­hen­sive net­work of pede­lec and cargo bike faci­li­ties as part of the cycling infra­struc­ture, inclu­ding par­king and bat­tery-char­ging faci­li­ties, gives peo­ple an added incen­tive to buy and use pede­lecs. Sys­te­ma­tic impro­ve­ments in the inte­gra­tion of pede­lec faci­li­ties and public trans­port enlar­ges the catchment areas of rail and bus ser­vices. This makes it pos­si­ble to com­bine the two forms of trans­port. 

Quel­len­an­ga­ben: 

  1. Bun­des­mi­nis­te­rium für Ver­kehr, Bau und Stadt­ent­wick­lung (now the Federal Minis­try of Trans­port and Digi­tal Infra­struc­ture) (publ.) (2012): Natio­na­ler Rad­ver­kehrs­plan 2020 (Natio­nal Cycling Plan 2020) - Den Rad­ver­kehr gemein­sam wei­ter­ent­wi­ckeln (Deve­lo­ping Cycling Together). Ber­lin
  2. Baden-Würt­tem­berg Minis­try of Trans­port and Infra­struc­ture (publ.) (2016): Baden-Würt­tem­berg RadSTRATEGIE (cycling stra­t­egy)  – Wege zu einer neuen RadKULTUR für Baden-Würt­tem­berg (Rou­tes to a new cycling CULTURE for Baden-Würt­tem­berg. Stutt­gart 
  3. Zwei­rad-Indus­trie-Ver­band e.V. (2016): Indus­try goes into the cycling sea­son on a sound foo­ting – busi­ness baro­me­ter for the first half of 2016. Press release. Bad Soden am Tau­nus.