If electric cars are going to save the earth (which we all know is debatable), you’d have to say that electric bikes are, too. And whether they can save the earth or not, it’s an absolute fact that they can reduce congestion. And it sounds like the government might have just cottoned on. They’ve just launched an ‘action plan’. This part of the Decarbonisation Plan is an effort to make the most of electric bikes where reducing emissions and congestion is concerned.
The MCIA (or The Motorcycle Industry Association) were asked by Her Majesty’s Government to try and work out what they needed to do to get more of us on electric bikes. That means getting both motorcycle people and non-motorcycle people on board. With the help of some industry partners, the MCIA have studied the problem and come up with a big list of recommendations for the government. They’ve recommended things like making sure licensing laws take into account the gradual electrification of the market, addressing supply chain issues in the UK, and a ‘review’ of the current grants and financial incentives that the government are offering people to help buy into the new technology.
Chief of the MCIA, Tony Campbell said this
“Traditionally, powered two-wheelers and other types of PLVs have often been absent from national and local policy due to an underappreciation or lack of awareness of their potential benefits to the environment. The launch of this Action Plan is a landmark for our sector, and we look forward to continuing our work with the Government and industry to ensure the full and proper implementation of the Plan’s recommendations.”
That’s all good and well, isn’t it? I appreciate they need to be seen to be doing everything they can to save the earth. But I think they’re missing the point. I don’t think licensing issues and supply chain problems are what’s stopping people buying electric bikes, do you? I think the reason people aren’t buying them is because they’re not appropriate for most of us yet; they don’t have the range and they take too long to charge. As well as the fact that they’re not exactly cheap alternatives.
People will start buying them when they offer a genuine alternative to their petrol powered internal combustion bikes, which at the moment, they just don’t. OK, I know some people are buying them, but obviously not enough, hence the MCIA doing all this work on the Decarbonisation Plan.
The few people that are buying electric bikes may well tell you that they do work for them, that they can get as far as they need to and that they don’t mind waiting whilst they charge up. If that’s you, fair play, good luck to you. I’m sure there are plenty of city-dwellers that can, and do, get everything they need from a motorcycle, from an electric one. But there’s still the other issue though, and it’s one that the MCIA have addressed.
Because if you do live in a metropolis and your five or ten mile commute is nothing but a 15mph weave through near stationary traffic, an electric bike would be a great replacement for your moped. Or it would be if you could afford one, anyway. Because they’re not cheap. And the recent reformation (or near withdrawal) of the incentivisation structure has only made them more expensive.
And then of course you’ve got to store it somewhere with power. We all know it’s difficult enough as it is to store motorcycles (safely) in cities; adding the need for electricity is only going to make it more difficult. The frustrating thing is that one of the only places an electric bike makes any sense, is precisely the place where it’s most difficult to own one. It’s also where the Decarbonisation Plan is likely to make the most difference, if any.
Where the hell they think all the folks in the inner cities are going to charge their electric bikes and cars in 2035, I’ve no bloody idea. But that’s a question for another day.
No, if the government want more people to ride electric bikes, they’re either going to have to give us more help to pay for them, or wait for electric bikes to get better. Or probably both.