Future Transport - Electric Bike Challenges
If you’ve read our first blog in this two-part series – you’ll already know that many cities and regional centres are doing a lot to help improve the future of transport in Australia: higher density living surrounding train stations and providing more secure bike parking by stations to invite train users to ride to the station rather than drive.
So, let’s return to Dave (our e-bike hero from the last blog). The problems he encounters in wanting to ride his electric bike to/from the station and around his local suburb are essentially – he needs to feel safe and comfortable riding around and, he needs somewhere secure to store his electric bike when he’s on the train.
For many, feeling safe on the roads is a function of training and educating car drivers as well as implementing different infrastructure. In Los Angeles (a city which has won awards for its infrastructure around FLFM) has created special pathways for bike riders to access public transport. Pathways could be a bike lane, a green zone or a wide, well-lit road – but in Australia (and most noticeably Melbourne and Sydney) bike riders have voiced their concerns that green zones and lower profile bike lanes just don’t work. Safe bike routes need to be designed for slow speeds and a volume of bike riders, not just painted lanes next to high speed traffic.
I’ve read that the Dutch bicycle network is developed to be suitable for a 60 year old woman with two bags of groceries…and I think that’s a brilliant guideline!
The biggest reason that electric bikes have a limited 250w motor is that they need to be safe to ride on a shared path with walkers (young and old), it all makes great sense so all Australia has to do is get the pathways!!!
Electric bikes can overcome many of the issues that come with riding to the train station or the local shops – you can easily overcome hills, you can travel further faster and, you can arrive at work or the station without becoming sweaty.
We mentioned that Dave also needs somewhere secure to store his ebike. Many inner city train stations have secure bike ‘cages’ where there are security cameras and restricted access – but more are needed, across regional locations as well as the metropolitan ones.
Or is the answer in our public transport networks allowing for electric bikes to be transported on the train or bus as well? In European and some American cities many buses have racks on the front and back where people can put their bikes so that they have them at the other end of their journey. Likewise, certain carriages on trains allow passengers to be with their bikes.
It seems quite clear; improvements to bike infrastructure are well needed. So, what is being done?
The City of Melbourne’s draft Transport Strategy 2030 states that Melbourne will become a premier cycling city in Australia. Noting that bikes (and of course, electric bikes) must play a more significant role in the transport network. “Once safe, connected bicycle lanes are in place, more trips will be made by bike. Bike trips are low-cost for the user and government, they improve the efficiency of the transport network and benefit society more broadly.”
Both Melbourne and Sydney are investing in safer bike riding infrastructure and programs – with protected bike lanes a big part of that.
City of Melbourne are planning to deliver approximately 50km of protected on-road bicycle lanes by 2030 – an increase from around 6km today! The below diagrams are taken from their planning document. The Blue and Yellow lines and dotted lines are great news for bike riders of all ages and stages!
We’ve also heard the Mayor of City of Port Phillip talk about their plans – increasing their cycling facilities to cater from 20,000 bike riders today, to over 100,000 in the next 5-10 years. It’s really good news for electric bike owners!
Sydney have quantified their plans a little more – each weekday there are around 8 million journeys that are shorter than 2 kilometres and 15 million trips shorter than 10km. Their aim is to get more people riding or walking for the trips under 2km and more people on ebikes (or regular pushies) for the trips under 10km.
Supporting active and healthy lifestyles is a win win for Government at all levels – reduces illnesses and therefore healthcare costs as well as increasing the vibrancy of local places, a reduction in congestion and emissions and air pollution too!
[image from https://future.transport.nsw.gov.au/designing-future/six-outcomes-for-nsw/successful-places]