A YouGov poll of over 15,500 people across 12 European countries has found that the cost of living is now seen as the foremost motivation for e-bike usage. The survey, carried out for Shimano’s annual State of the Nation report, found that 47 per cent of people see living costs as the primary motivating factor for e-bike use. The second most common answer was purchase subsidies (41%).
The picture is even more stark in the UK where 56 per cent of people pointed to the cost of living as the most likely reason they would get an e-bike. Pertinently, in France – where grants of up to €4,000 are available to people who trade in their car for an e-bike – 60 per cent of respondents pointed to subsidies.
While Scotland has offered a handful of financial incentives, few e-bike subsidies have been available in the rest of the UK in recent years. Halfords has been among those calling for discounts similar to those on offer in France.
The Shimano survey also found that 31 per cent of Europeans think more cycling infrastructure might encourage someone to buy or use an e-bike. However, few feel they have seen improvements with 45 per cent saying they don’t agree infrastructure has improved and a further 17 per cent saying they are uncertain.
There was again another marked difference between the UK and France here with just 27 per cent of Britons saying infrastructure had improved in their local area in the last year, compared to an average of 39 per cent across all countries polled and 49 per cent in France.
Seeking to understand the perceptions people have around e-bike usage, Shimano also asked, “In general, who do you think e-bikes are for?”
In the UK, only 24 per cent of people answered, ‘the elderly’, compared to an average of 38 per cent across Europe and 65 per cent in the Netherlands where there has been higher uptake of e-cycling in later life.
The Netherlands was unusual in that regard as most countries placed ‘environmentally conscious people’ as the primary group that e-bikes are for (52% across Europe as a whole). The next most common answer was ‘commuters’ (48%).
The study suggests that Dutch attitudes may be shaped by how common it is to own a bike there. Only 13 per cent of Danish respondents did not own a bike, compared to 63 per cent in the UK. “If you are already cycling frequently on a conventional bike then an e-bikes does not lessen your environmental impact – if anything it increases it,” reasoned the researchers.