32.3 The bike is back with a battery

Frank van Der Hoeven , Architecture, Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
Full Papers
  • pedelec.pdf (13.6 MB)
  • The attention the electric car receive as a promising means of sustainable transportation is justified but seem to overshadow the rise of that other electric vehicle: the pedelec or electric-bike. For those who don't know yet: a pedelec is a bicycle assisted by an electric motor. The motor powered by a rechargeable (lithium-ion) battery. The motor is intended to assist pedaling, not to replace it. The motor multiplies someone's muscle power. In legal terms a pedelec is a regular bicycle as long as the motor's power doesn't exceed 250W and the maximum speed is leveled off to a 25 km/h. High speed pedelecs with a maximum speed of 35 km/h do exist but are legally regarded as mopeds. The most interesting aspect from a pedelec is that it is a much improved bicycle. Elderly can cycle till a older age. People living in cities or rural areas with steep height differences will benefit from pedelecs. Pedelecs allow you to bridge longer distances. And people will not sweat, which is a major issue with trips between home and the office. Pedelecs do not simply replace regular bicycles. They will change the way bicycles are used and have a significant impact in the way people move around on two wheels. In 2008 almost 120.000 pedelecs were sold in The Netherlands. This number grew from 22.000 in 2004, 34.000 in 2005, 44.000 in 2006 and 89.000 in 2007. Although pedelecs still represent a small percentage in the actual number of bikes being sold, due to their high price tag they already account for a third of the turnover in bicycles sales. This makes it very lucrative to market this specific vehicle. This paper assumes that the growing use of pedelecs requires a different approach from transport and urban planning towards two wheelers. It will outline the major differences between regular bike use and pedelec use and addresses issues like parking and charging. It will also discuss how the rise of pedelecs may function as a stepping stone for sustainable electric car mobility.