Wheels of fortune: the pros and cons of e-bikes | Letters | Life and style
Peter Walker (‘I can just glide through traffic’: how e-bikes could answer our commuting problems, 17 May) has hit the spot with his article. I think the e-bike’s time has come. My electric bike is one year old on Thursday, and it was a 75th birthday present. I have only ever been a casual cyclist, but had given my old bike away, as my creaky knees – combined with living at the top of a hill – meant that I rarely used it.
But with my e-bike I feel so empowered. Mine is a simple one with a range of only about 16 miles, but during lockdown I have been exploring circuits in all directions, and come home both exhilarated and relaxed. It is so easy to get around to do a few errands that it often seems quicker than using a car and having to find parking.
I am sure it is good exercise, as I have to pedal to get the motor to assist me. And on Monday I turned the motor off for a while and cycled quite happily on the level – I’m sure my legs are stronger. I feel safer on the e-bike because I can keep up momentum going up hills and setting off at a junction without that moment of instability. The battery looks like a drinks bottle that clips on to the frame, and I just take it in with me to put on the charger for less than an hour to recharge.
If anyone is tempted by the idea, I strongly recommend giving it a try.
• Peter Walker’s article says e-bikes “are eligible for the tax-saving cycle-to-work scheme, but are not included in the system of government grants of up to £3,000 towards the costs of an electric car or moped”, but does not mention the interest-free loans available in Scotland (administered by the Energy Saving Trust). This provision by the Scottish government helps to spread the cost of an e-bike.
• In the opposite of nominative determinism, Peter Walker’s enthusiastic praise for e-bikes omits any reference to pedestrians. Safety is discussed only with reference to other road users, with a blanket statement that because at 15mph e-bikes go no faster than “many cyclists”, there is no indication that they are more dangerous than other bikes. Can he tell us what safety studies have been done in relation to pedestrians, particularly in shared space, and what discussions have been held with organisations such as the Royal National Institute of Blind People? Also, since the motors tend to be effective enough to propel bikes laden with shopping and children, what effect would the additional weight have in a collision with a pedestrian?
New Malden, London
• I must say that I find the plethora of articles at the moment arguing that the e-bike is the saviour of humanity rather irritating. Certainly I deeply regret getting mine – an elegant and allegedly unstealable e-bike that became the most expensive ornament I’ve ever purchased. Unstealable it may be, but unrepairable if you get a puncture it certainly was. Unless you only cycled within walking distance of the company’s London shop, the only place with the facilities to remove the wheel, it was not a practical proposition.