21/01/2016 12:22 PM AEDT | Updated 28/09/2016 9:55 PM AEST

E-Bikes Take The Puff Out Of Cycling: Perth Is Leading The Way


Perth is leading the way in a push for e-bikes to be a regular sight in the CBD, following a successful 10-week trial created in a bid to cut down city traffic congestion.

E-bikes take the puff out of cycling, because while they still require the rider to push the pedals, they include a motor to make the journey a lot easier.

The RAC’s trial involved 40 employees from four CBD companies. In total there were 1,178 e-bike trips to and from the city, as well as trips for personal use after work. Before the trial, 61 per cent of all participants’ journeys were in a car. During the trial, that fell to 32 percent.

RAC Senior Manager Policy and Research Anne Still said more than half of the participants indicated they’d continue to ride to work instead of taking their car into the city.

“The feedback we’ve received from the participants has been very positive and it’s apparent that many have a new-found, or re-ignited, passion for cycling,” said Still.

The Audi e-bike

“Usage of the e-bikes for commuting purposes remained high throughout the trial. With about 83 percent of participants already owning a regular bike before applying to take part, we believe the increase in cycling maintained throughout the trial, shows the potential of e-Bikes to make cycling a more realistic option for more people.”

E-bike sales in Australia have recently surged from 11,000 in 2011 to 36,000 in 2013. It’s expected e-bike sales will increase even further in WA in 2016 with the introduction of new laws allowing e-bikes to use a maximum power output of 250 watts -- up from 200 watts. The laws bring Perth into line with the rest of the nation.

Another factor contributing to the e-bike push is that Perth is growing at such a rapid rate. It's predicted by 2031, seven of the nation’s 10 most congested roads will be in Perth and congestion will cost the State $16 billion in lost productivity.

Over the 10-week trial, the most frequently given reason for using the e-bikes was for the fitness (77 percent) followed by enjoyment/comfort (66 percent) and because their destinations were within a reasonable cycling distance (59 percent.)

Cycling is already booming in Perth, with around 591,000 cyclists taking to the streets and paths each week.

"While there's no single solution to Perth’s congestion problem, an increase in cycling can help to reduce the number of cars on the road while also providing significant health benefits for individuals," said Still.

The RAC will shortly test another e-bike scheme, allowing people to borrow an e-bike for commuting, so they can see if it’s an option which could work for them and, perhaps, lead them to make a decision to purchase an e-bike of their own.