By Tushar Choudhary
Pandemic-induced need for personal mobility has boosted the mass-micro-mobility across India. How can it be a medium to achieve sustainability?
We are living in an era where personalized mobility has already become a norm. Millions of people across different cities travel alone in cars, adding humongous volumes of polluting gases to the environment. The need of the hour is to replace the existing fuel-guzzling, expensive and polluting transportation systems with sustainable urban micro-mobility solutions. Cities all over the world are contemplating such solutions, but the challenge with official sustainable mobility efforts is that they focus on mass transportation. Metro trains, electric bus fleets, and EV-exclusive zones are all great additions, but they fail to address the vital need for the last-mile personal commute. That’s where e-bicycles or e-bikes prove to be a superior option that checks all the right boxes.
Copenhagen has already proved the impact and practicality of e-bikes. It is a model for all the major cities in the world, as it has spent years perfecting an ecosystem that sees 41% of the city’s commuters use bikes for their daily commute. As e-bikes evolve, Copenhagen is looking at these battery-powered micro-mobility enablers as innovative and integrated transportation options. The question we need to ask is, when Copenhagen can, then why can’t we look at creating a sustainable, human-centric and carbon-neutral micro-mobility ecosystem for our cities?
Across the Atlantic, American smart cities such as Colorado Springs have been working with e-bike companies to achieve environmental and mobility goals in a way that enhances the commute experience as well as the quality of life for the citizens. San Francisco’s municipal transportation agency has expanded its bike share program by integrating 250 e-bikes into the fleet. They are seeing it as the future of mobility, and rightly so. After all, how can any city be called smart if its roads remain choc-a-block with polluting and noisy cars?
In any major city, e-bikes can offer a faster, cheaper, and highly sustainable mode of local transportation compared to a private car or a cab. Urban populations are growing, parking spaces shrinking, and the number of cars skyrocketing. Full-fledged adoption of EVs is decades away, and even when that happens, the challenge of parking spaces and road congestion will remain. Have you ever seen anyone who enjoys being stuck in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam that even Tier 3 and Tier 4 Indian cities now witness regularly?
That’s where e-bikes that occupy only a fraction of the space compared to a car (up to 10 e-bikes can be parked in the space needed to park one average sedan) score highly on the decongestion criteria. According to research by the Municipality of Copenhagen, cyclists reduce nearly 20,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually in the city. Considering that Indian cities have a significantly high population and potential for integration of e-bikes, the reduction in carbon footprint would be even more significant.
E-bikes are human-centric and futuristic
The Health and wellness of the citizens are among the core focus areas for any smart city planner. Mobility is integral to achieving that objective. While one might argue that all electric two-wheelers or even ordinary bicycles can reduce emissions and congestion, if we look at things from an all-round perspective, e-bikes outperform all other options.
- They are a lot cheaper than the e-scooters, e-2 wheelers
- They are faster and safer for all age group people compared to pedal-only bikes that people with health and fitness challenges might not be able to use
- They are noiseless and require less space than even the electric 2-wheelers
- They come with dual options, so while one could use the battery-operated mode for faster and more convenient mobility, the option of pedalling as a form of exercise is also available at all times
- Users don’t need licenses or registration for the e-bikes as they operate at speeds not higher than 20 kmph.
- The option of electric drive enables commuters to use e-bikes even on slopes or in hilly areas where pedalling uphill might not be possible for all
- They can seamlessly navigate through even the streets that experience traffic congestion
- Last but not least, they are permitted to use the dedicated bicycle lanes, which makes them move with more excellent safety.
Once the e-bikes are given due attention by Indian smart city planners as the buyers, we will see a significant switch to these highly beneficial mass-micro-mobility solutions. There is a wide range of designs and configurations of software-driven e-bikes already available in India. The only thing we need to do is to show the intent of moving around sustainably!
(Tushar Choudhary is the Founder & CEO of Motovolt.)
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Autofintechs.com. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)