The future of transport – are electric bikes the answer?
When we think of driving across cities today – it conjures up nightmare traffic jams, accident near misses and possibly, a lot of swearing! But what do you think when we talk about crossing Melbourne, Sydney or even Los Angeles in 10- or 20-years’ time?
Will everyone be peacefully transported whilst they sit ‘zen like’ in the back of their private self-driven electric vehicles? Or will we be transporting ourselves, on our pedal assisted e-bikes – still peacefully – maintaining our physical and emotional fitness and living in a more engaged community environment?
Public transport will of course continue to be a major player in transporting the masses – but what are the hindrances to a higher percentage of people using public transport? And what are the issues preventing people from riding electric bikes more now?
This subject often brings out the worst in people – with everyone having their own opinion on what city planners should and shouldn’t be doing…and to be honest, there is sooo much information around that I could probably write a blog on this every week for the foreseeable future and still not cover everything!
I’m going to try and break it down into smaller blog articles – and electric bike relevant sections to be more specific!
One of the major problems facing public transport is the getting to and from the station issue – commonly referred to as First Mile Last Mile (FMLM) problems (in city transport strategy speak) - parking is near impossible anywhere near train stations! Could electric bikes help our public transport systems manage the FMLM issue?
There are many solutions to the mass transport issues facing Australia and yes, privately owned electric bikes could well be the ideal solution in managing the first-mile-last-mile problem, encouraging ridership and lowering mass transit costs. But like many other solutions, there are challenges preventing electric bikes from becoming THE solution.
Infrastructure in and around train and tram stations needs some serious investment across Australia – including regional cities. Secure bike parking and safe cycling paths are the two obvious issues and, thankfully, the ones that most Councils are working on already.
Across Greater Melbourne and Sydney’s outer suburbs, homes are rarely built directly on a train line however, many councils are now rezoning the areas immediately surrounding their stations to be higher density living – which is great news for many. But for those who own property or live further away, how do they get to the station when parking is scarce and it’s a decent walk? Electric bikes.
Walking is often not an option – distance is the main barrier to this as most people only want to walk approximately 5 minutes to the station. More and more stations are now providing secure bike storage facilities where riders can store their e-bikes during the day or, you can take your electric bike on the train and then ride the ‘Last Mile’ to your office also.
Electric bikes helping the traffic problem
E-bikes are a great solution to the traffic and parking issues facing suburban centres – riding your bike to the station is a great way to manage the ‘First Mile’ issue.
Let’s look at ‘Dave’ who needs to get from his home to the office each day – a trip of about 20km with the train station being around 3km from his home and then a quick 5minute walk from the city station to his office. He currently drives to the station and then circles the blocks nearby looking for a carpark – an effort which takes him minimum 20 minutes and results in him starting his day in a bad mood!
If Dave bought himself an electric bike and rode to the station, he’d be there in 10 minutes and then on board his train… and, having been outside in the fresh air – he would be more awake, alert and happy. A much better start to his day! And the ride home in the evening would be just the same, a happy and healthy (after incorporating 20 minutes of exercise a day into his life) Dave arriving home each night!
It does seem like a ‘no brainer’ – check if your train station has the secure bike cages where you can store your e-bike – and become a happy and healthy you! 😊
Next month we’ll cover the issues of infrastructure and safety – and what are our cities doing to help improve these?