September 22 is known as World Car Free Day, where towns and cities across the globe encourage people to choose alternative modes of transport to cars. Cycling UK have this year taken the opportunity to highlight how easy enjoyable using an electric bike can be compared to driving.
According to the National Travel Survey, in 2022, 67% of all trips in England between one and five miles were driven, with over half comprising leisure or shopping journeys. Shorter journeys like these are the ideal length to switch to using a bike, whether it be electric or unassisted.
Cycling UK’s deputy director for Making cycling e-asier, Jenny Box, commented: “E-cycles have the potential to transform how we travel short distances. They’re a game changer – they literally make cycling easier with every pedal stroke, breaking down some of the barriers to cycling to work, like hills, fitness or time.
“This Car Free day, which is about giving people choices for other ways to travel, I’d urge everyone to give an e-bike a go, and see where it takes them. You’ll soon see how much you can save, how it can help get you fitter and cut your emissions – all while having fun.”
We might be slightly biased about how fun e-bikes are to ride, but there’s no denying their accessibility compared to unassisted cycles - particularly if users struggle with mobility or other health issues. If you’re looking to get an electric bike, make sure you read our beginner’s guide to buying an electric bike.
If you want to try one for free, however, Cycling UK runs a scheme called Making cycling a-asier, which is run in several cities including Leicester, Sheffield, Luton, Manchester and Dunstable. It’s not just a loan scheme, however, as users can also access free skills and confidence sessions. Launched in 2022, it’s proven popular so far, with the e-bikes in Manchester’s loan scheme booked out within hours of it launching.
Cycling UK has also shared success stories of users who have switched from driving to riding, including GP Dr Jonathan Leach OBE from Worcester, who we've covered here before.
During the pandemic, Leach bought an electric Brompton to cycle his 12-mile commute and it has proven a wise investment - he ended up riding over 3,100 miles last year.
Leach said: “Having an electric bike makes commuting to and from work a lot quicker. I’m able to bypass traffic congestion in the town centre, which is a huge bonus, especially at rush hour.
“I regularly arrive at home visits on my e-bike, and for many patients, who are very frail, very elderly and very lonely, watching me pedal into their driveway on my e-bike is the highlight of their week.”
If trying an electric bike is of interest, you can find more information on the Making cycling e-asier page on Cycling UK's website. You may also be interested in some of our reviews and buyer's guides.