Webinar on e-bikes: What benefits arise and how to implement a promotion campaign

On October 15th, 2018, our partner City of Gdansk carried out a very interesting webinar (in English) on e-bikes. With experienced presenters, participants had the opportunity to ask questions and receive an insight into the definition of e-bikes and their classification as well as know about implementing a promotion campaign for e-bikes into administrative work.

Piotr Kuropatwinski presented a general presentation on the e-bike, entitled “Electrically assisted pedal bicycles. Basic data and selected comparisons” prepared by P. Kuropatwinski containing general information about electrically assisted bikes, classification of cyclists according to their level of fitness and confidence in riding in traffic, structure of urban trips according to their length, comparison of their features with other modes of transport and electric mobility in general.

The second presentation was presented by Petteri Nisula from the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority (the Finnish partner to the project). It focused on the E-bike promotion in Helsinki metropolitan region. The presentation contained the discussion about the “electricity to bike” campaign which consisted in providing 4 families (selected from 900 candidates) with the opportunity of testing electrically assisted bikes (including one e-cargo bike) for a month, an e-bike testing campaign at Korkeasaari zoo and three other e-bike testing events organised in Helsinki metropolitan region.

Main experiences

Electrically assisted bicycles are an important innovation which helps to overcome a number of barriers inhibiting the development of cycling in a hilly metropolitan area. If they are introduced in combination with the newly developed bike sharing system, they may serve as a catalyst of change of the mindset of many decision makers shaping the transport and mobility system which is already equipped with a well-developed local and regional railway network. Substantially increased catchment area of stations of that network resulting from the increase in popularity of e-cycling and conventional cycling may improve the economic efficiency of the public railway system and help to improve the sustainability of the local transport system and the general quality of life in the region.

In view of the still not sufficiently estimated status of cycling in public policies, it is very important to understand the role of cycling promotion and information activities in the entire spectrum of local cycling policies. Webinars prove to be instruments of information and promotional measures of limited efficiency. Members of cycling advocacy organisations or “rank and file” cyclists which have not yet achieved sufficient experience in taking part in advanced cooperation partnerships may be better motivated to take part in discussions about ways of improving cycling promotion policies if they are offered the opportunity to take part in more traditional public workshops.

Most important recommendations

  • Practical opportunity of riding an electrically assisted bicycle is the strongest tool which opens the minds of people who have either a considerable experience in using a conventional bike in commuting or in recreational cycling, and of those, who have very limited experience in cycling. That is why events, which either provide the opportunity for short – test rides, or organization of a system of testing the e-bikes for longer periods – week or a month – should be considered as the most powerful and convincing way of promoting the advantages of electrically assisted cycling. Electrically assisted cargo bikes offered for testing or short trips with children may also be considered as important tools extending the scope of imagination of potential users – common inhabitants of any metropolitan area.
  • The people, who are offered a possibility of riding an electrically assisted bike free of charge for a week or a longer period, should be obliged to share their experience with the use of social media instruments (a dedicated fanpage, a weblog or at least regular entries on their Facebook accounts).
  • It is worthwhile to organize longer periods of testing electrically assisted bikes in cooperation with employers, who already take part in “cycle to work” campaigns. The people, who are offered e-bikes for longer periods may successfully share their experience with their colleagues. Such initiatives may become a good starting points to make the employers aware of the benefits of developing sustainable travel plans in their companies.