Electric Vehicles and Bicycles

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:45 pm on 9th May 2018.

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Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Conservative, South West Bedfordshire 4:45 pm, 9th May 2018

I agree with every word that the hon. Lady said. Journeys by e-bike are longer, with an average of 5.9 miles compared with 3.9 miles. Importantly, 18% of disabled cyclists own a bike with electric assistance. It is fantastic to get more disabled people cycling, too.

Let us think of all the deliveries from internet shopping; 51% of all urban motorised trips related to carrying goods have the potential to transfer to cargo bikes. I think that Sainsbury’s has six e-bikes, which I believe the Minister may have seen recently. There is a huge opportunity, although I learnt yesterday that the legislation on cargo e-bikes is confusing. We can do more.

How is the United Kingdom doing with e-bikes compared with everyone else? In 2017, we had 63,000 sales, but Spain sold 66,000, Switzerland sold 87,000, Austria sold 120,000, Italy sold 155,000, Belgium sold 245,000, France sold 255,000, the Netherlands sold 294,000 and Germany sold a whopping 720,000 in 2017. That is more than 11 times the number in the United Kingdom, so we have a little catching up to do.

What can my good friend the Minister do to help? I checked the Office for Low Emission Vehicles’ definition of “vehicle”, and I think it could include a bicycle. Let us be a little less siloed. Electric bikes have huge potential to change the way we travel for the better. They reduce congestion and pollution, and get people fitter. Let us see them in that sense and give them the recognition they deserve. Let us also recognise that the cycle to work scheme, although it is excellent, does not reach older cyclists, people who are not in work or other people who would benefit hugely from electric bikes. As with all cycling, we need to ensure that our roads are in good condition—dangerous potholes are a big disincentive to cycling whether someone uses an electric bike or an ordinary bike.

Germany offers a subsidy of up to €2,500 for the purchase of an e-bike. In France, a modest €200 subsidy for a 12-month period led to a 31% increase in sales. There is huge potential in this area, and I say to the Minister: let us be at the forefront of the electric bike industry as well as the electric vehicle industry.