In the face of road danger, deadly air pollution that kills over 30,000 a year, crippling congestion and an obesity epidemic that costs the NHS over £10bn a year, you might assume the government would grab at the opportunity to promote a safe, clean and healthy mode of transport.
So-called pedelecs may not be environmentally benign like conventional bicycles, but battery-powered bikes offer numerous advantages over electric cars; Not only do they consume far fewer natural resources to build and run, but they occupy less road space, contribute very little towards road danger, create no tailpipe emissions and constitute active travel. Another key advantage is that pedelecs can be recharged from a household electricity supply so no need for the infrastructure that is slowing the uptake of electric cars.
However, perhaps the thing about pedelecs that should be most attractive thing to those in power is the potential they offer to wrestle people out of their cars. Make no mistake – for all the talk about cleaner cars and ‘sharing the road’ – the only way to deal effectively with air pollution and road danger and to promote liveable neighbourhoods is for there to be far fewer cars on the roads. Electrically assisted bicycles are by no means a cheat, but their variable assistance feature allows novice cyclists to take on journeys of 20 miles or more without difficulty. And for those for whom the car is status symbol or style statement, fear not. Electric bicycles come in a variety of shapes, sizes and price points. In fact, just like many cars, some pedelecs put style over practicality. The Ruffian pictured above is designed to look like a motorcycle from the early twentieth century.
Given all the merits of the electric bicycle, it seems strange that the ongoing £400m+ subsidy for electric cars via the -‘plug-in grant’ has never been extended to include pedelecs. Equally curious is the fact that the government’s cycle to work initiative – the salary sacrifice scheme that allows people to buy a tax-free bicycle via their employer – has not had it’s cap of £1,000 increased to allow for the higher purchase price of pedelecs.
Ethical cycle insurance
Check your small print for so-called ‘new-for-old’ replacement – many insurers use the term, but if your bicycle is more than a few years old, they devalue it severely. This means you are left out of pocket when you come to replace it.
With ETA cycle insurance, however old the bike, if it’s stolen you get enough to buy a new model. Furthermore, every cycle insurance policy you buy from us helps support the work of the ETA Trust, our charity campaigning for a cleaner, safer transport future. No wonder The Good Shopping Guide rated us ethically.