E-Bike Popularity Muscles Cars Off European Roads
Europe’s shift to bicycles and e-bikes is accelerating as lingering concerns about coronavirus meet with a heightened environmental consciousness—a trend of planet-friendly progress that is being aided by supportive government policies.
The pandemic has spurred 1,500 kilometres of new bike lanes in the region, reports Bloomberg Green. “Bikes are increasingly muscling aside cars on Europe’s city streets,” with e-bikes proving especially popular. Meanwhile, “governments are fuelling the trend, offering buying incentives ranging from €100 to as much as €1,500 for heavy business users of e-bikes.”
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Further boosting the fortunes of e-bike manufacturers—and of citizens anxious to embrace two wheels—are government tax benefits offered by some governments, such as Germany, to companies that offer leasing opportunities to their employees.
And then there are the infrastructural changes precipitated by the pandemic lockdown, which “prompted authorities in 32 of the European Union’s biggest cities to bring forward planned improvements, according to the European Cyclists’ Federation.” While Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands are all “pioneering fast lanes” that are custom-designed for bike and e-bike commuters, other jurisdictions have simply shunted cars aside, as cities like Rome “mostly just paint bike lanes on existing roadways, and Berlin and Paris set up pop-up lanes.”
Benefiting significantly from the increasing widespread recognition that two wheels are better than four is bikemaker Pierer Mobility AG, whose “revenue is set to triple to more than €100 million in 2020 compared with two years ago.” A projected sales jump to about €500 million by 2025 will put the company in the running with industry heavyweights like Specialized and Giant.
Surging demand for the ease, good health, and simple fun that biking provides is also accelerating the fortunes of bike subscription companies like Amsterdam-based Swapfiets, which offers long-term rentals. Swapfiets saw its customer base increase to more than 200,000 users during the lockdown, and is now seeking to expand into London, writes Bloomberg.
Swapfiets Managing Director Onno Huyghe told Bloomberg that while the coronavirus has been a factor, the real cause comes down to preference: “Most people simply recognize that the bicycle is the best means of transport in the city,” he said.