Move over gas-guzzlers, Londoners are turning to e-bikes for their low-cost travel needs

One store owners says his business has increased 40 per cent over last year

Kate Dubinski · CBC News · Posted: Jun 16, 2022 5:00 AM EDT | Last Updated: June 16, 2022

Pradeep Chandranivas says a lot of people are choosing e-bikes as a cost-effective and climate-friendly option. (Kate Dubinski/CBC)

As gas prices show no signs of going down and the harm of burning fossil fuels continues to impact the global climate, some Londoners are turning to electric bicycles to get around. 

“One of the most common things we’re hearing is that gas prices, they’re going crazy, and people want to move away from the car,” said Pradeep Chandranivas, who owns London Eco Bikes on York Street. 

The store sells e-bikes, scooters and battery-powered motorcycle-style bikes. 

“There’s a trend of people going completely electric,” Chandranivas said. Some customers come from outside of London, including Blenheim and Grand Bend, to buy their new wheels. 

“There are a lot of reasons why people are switching but gas prices have certainly been an important reason for the last two months,” he said. 

At E-Motion, an e-bike store on Adelaide Street, owner William Manuel is so busy these days that he’s barely got time to pick up the phone. 

Cost effective option

“My sales are up 40 per cent over last year,” he said. “It has a lot to do with gas pricing, for sure. That’s bringing in a younger customer, because they’re feeling the struggle.” 

His customers used to be around the 55-years-old and up, but now they’re trending down as many decide not to get a car and instead want to commute from the suburbs into jobs downtown, Manuel said. 

E-bikes come in a variety of sizes and colours. (Kate Dubinski/CBC)

“They’re trying to find a cost-effective way to do it. Last year, they were looking for big, heavy bikes, but this year the trend is for something that doesn’t weigh a lot.”

The bikes with Lithium batteries can go for up to 100 km before they need to be recharged. A recharge costs about eight cents, he said. 

“People use them in the winter, you just reduce the air pressure (in the tires) a bit. Our winters are getting softer, and with a lot more people riding in the summer, a lot more are also riding in the winter.” 

The average price of a quality e-bike is between $2,000 and $3,000.

Why Electric bikes?

1. Environment-friendly – Automobiles that run on gas and diesel release carbon emissions into the atmosphere; e-bikes do not. E-bikes are zero-emission vehicles operating on clean energy. Invest in an e-bike, invest in a greener future.

2. Prevents air pollution – Pollution is a severe problem, particularly in urban areas, causing respiratory and other health problems. E-bikes being zero-emission vehicles do not cause air pollution.

3. Less carbon footprint – Reducing waste is one way to lessen one’s carbon footprint. The benefit of owning and riding an e-bike is that it produces little waste. However, like other electric vehicles, e-bikes have a battery that must eventually be replaced. The majority of the batteries, and rightly so, can be recycled.

4. Save money – E-bikes helps to save money. The purchase price and operating costs of an e-bike are much lower than that of a car or a motorcycle. Our ebikes are priced competitively compared to other green solutions without compromising the products’ quality and safety features.

5. Eco-friendly travel – When a person travels by train or bus, they must deal with crowded conditions and people who may be sick or unpleasant to deal with. But e-bikes, in addition to being a greener transportation option, also offer more freedom of movement without schedule restrictions and the ability to travel alone if desired.

6. A green way to have fun – Commuting is not the only reason people use e-bikes. In addition to commuter e-bikes, we have off-road e-bikes designed to explore terrains more rugged than city streets. They can be used to explore nature or ride on trails.

7. Active lifestyle – E-bikes encourage a more active lifestyle while also enabling travel at a more natural pace, with greater exposure to the city’s sights, culture and entertainment.

8. Health Benefits – E-bike is a transportation option that can also serve as an exercise. Riding an e-bike has very similar health benefits to riding a bike for exercise, with an added benefit of giving the rider a break if tired. This is particularly important for those who are hesitant to ride a bike due to health-related issues. E-bikes once again give them the confidence to pursue the active lifestyle they want.

Benefits of cycling include:

    • Increased cardiovascular fitness.
    • Increased muscle strength/flexibility.
    • Improved joint mobility.
    • Decreased stress levels.
    • Improved posture and coordination.
    • Strengthened bones.
    • Decreased body fat levels.
    • Prevention of disease.
    • Reduced anxiety.

9. Feel fresh after your commute to work – Arriving at work sweaty is one of the biggest impediments for the would-be bike commuters. E-bikes nail this issue and allow getting to your workplace fresh and full of energy.

10. Cities benefit greatly from e-bikes – When car drivers switch to e-bikes, they take up far less space on the roads, leading to less traffic and road congestion. The bikes can use bike lanes in most areas, enabling riders to avoid a traffic mess altogether.

11. Noise pollution – Freeing a busy city from the sound of engines and car horns can considerably enhance city dwellers’ comfort levels and quality of life.

12. Easy to maintain – E-bikes have less machinery than motorbikes and hence are comparatively easier to maintain.

Electric bikes, the future of transportation

As per the CBC article, (Ref 1) e-bikes may hold the key to greener transportation. As per Gregor Macdonald, a journalist and author of the e-book Oil Fall, although electric cars are considered as the effective way to de-carbonize the transportation sector, people are waking up to the benefits of a smaller, stealthier ride.

E-bikes are cheaper in $1,000-$5,000 range compared to electric car for which the lowest price is about $30,000. An e-bike is going to allow many families to think about going from two cars to one car.
Macdonald said a typical adult rider can get a range of about 30-40 kilometers on a single charge, which makes e-bikes well-suited to the average daily commute. And on an e-bike with a bit of storage, it can be used for that trip to buy groceries and even transport other people.

Since e-biking is not as sweat-inducing, it’s a more viable option for those who wear a suit or dress to work. Some employers are taking notice, enticing their staff with special incentives for riding electric bikes to work. Attesting to the physical health advantages of commuting this way, the city of Copenhagen reports that residents who cycle request 1.1 million fewer sick days (Ref 3).

E-bike enthusiasts also cite the mental benefits of this thrill ride, likening it to the feeling of freedom first felt as a child taking to two wheels. Commuters arrive at work or home relaxed, with no need to decompress, a vast difference from their mental state after sitting in a car in city traffic.

Already the vast majority of Americans live in urban areas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (Ref 3), which forecasts that the number will continue to rise. As municipalities plan for future growth, the one-car-per-person model won’t be sustainable. This is creating a vast market for commute-friendly vehicles that don’t require fossil fuel, sweat power or quads of steel. E-bikes fit the bill.

For many, lack of mobility is one of the first hurdles to find a job. E-bikes can offer a means of inexpensive travel, which brings people closer to jobs.
One do not need a license or registration to ride an e-bike. There is no expenditure on gas, insurance and parking fees which means lots of savings.
E-bikes also became popular as an alternative to public transport at a time when attempts are being made to maintain social distance.

The growth of e-bike popularity is also because an electric bike exists for every type of use and desire. Whether it is for the regular commute to work or those weekend biking trips or for exercise, e-bikes are available in various styles and budget as desired by the customer.


Ref 2 :

Cost of owning and e-bike for commute

This is a rough estimate for readers to understand the necessary expenses. Please note that the costs may vary based on actual, real-time conditions. Tax and labour are not included in price estimates.
Cost of an e-bike – $1500 to $3000 (Depending on the type of bike and battery capacity)
Cost of helmet, lock, rain cover etc. – $200
Cost of charging – $0.125 for 1KWh

E.g. Consider a person using an e-bike to commute 30 km daily on a 48V/21AH e-bike, which gives approximately 60 Km per full charge.
In a five-day week, the bike is charged 2.5 times. So, in this case, the cost of fully charging the bike in a week is 2.5 x $0.125 = $0.3125

Maintenance expenses on an e-bike (based on usage of the bike)
Tire replacement – $100 to $150
Brake pads replacement – $100

Battery replacement
Lead-acid battery (frequency depends on usage; Avg every three years) – $600 to $1000 (Based on the capacity of the battery pack)
Lithium battery (frequency depends on usage; Avg every five years) – $900 to $2000 (Based on the capacity of the battery pack)

Although insurance is not mandatory, it is not bad to consider insurance for theft or accidents.
Insurance monthly instalments are considerably lower than car insurance rates.

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