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1/3 of UK Public Transport Users ‘Would’ Switch to Electric Bikes
May 18, 2016
By Richard Peace.
34% of British people would choose an electric bike over public transport says a recent survey of a thousand people conducted by One Poll for Shimano.
Of course, ‘would’ implies a the change from public transport to e-bikes if something else happens.
In this case the survey results implied high e-bike cost and the perception of cycling safety were barriers to a switch from public transport to e-bikes.
Government subsidy of e-bikes was cited as a factor that would persuade public transport users to consider two wheels instead, as was the provision of more safe cycling infrastructure.
There was also a clear split along gender lines, with 38% of those who would consider a swap to e-bike commuting being men and 29% women.
Mark Greshon, Shimano Senior Brand Manager at Madison commented ‘The survey shows that Brits aged 25-34 years, who are most likely the people in the early stages of their professional career, are most in favour of e-bikes for their daily commute. This makes a lot of sense as this younger generation is open to new technology like Shimano STEPS which we’ve already seen make a real impact in other European countries already.’
Interestingly the survey appears to indicate a latent demand for e-bikes in two groups not traditionally associated with e-bike use; younger age groups (its assumed here commuters will be younger on average than the ‘grey’ leisure market that e-bikes have traditionally been associated with in the UK) and public transport users (again, traditionally e-bikes have been seen as a replacement for non-powered bikes, for example when the rider becomes elderly and needs assistance).
Just about every electric bike survey seems to approach the subject of who rides (or who might ride) from a slightly different perspective.
In contrast to the Shimano survey, a survey by US e-bike company Faraday of its customers found that most viewed an e-bike as an addition to their current transport mix rather than a straight replacement. But when pressed on the question ‘What does an E-bike replace?’ some 45% of respondents answered ‘traditional bike’ whilst a similar proportion said car or truck, with public transport way down the list.
And there is still evidence to support the idea that e-bike sales are mainly the domain of older riders. Data from Accell in the U.S. Suggested those aged 45-64 accounted for just over half of the market, but that still left around a third of the market to younger riders, with around 13% being over 65. The same data also ranked leisure and fitness riding ahead of commuting.
Of course, this all poses more questions than it answers for e-bike manufacturers; should marketing resources be focused on groups who are currently the ‘majority’ users or should they seek to appeal to ‘minority’ groups in the belief this is where there is most latent demand?
Some surveys have focused on ‘non-powered’ cyclists reactions to e-bikes. A recent survey by the League of American Bicyclists made clear the importance of both government and industry in the US in shaping legislation and e-bike design so that there is no backlash from existing conventional cyclists, especially with regard to electric bike use of cycle infrastructure.
One thing seems to have been proved beyond doubt by survey research; as EBR reported, once you get an electric bike convert they love to ride their bikes. And that has to be good news.