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Electric bikes are taking Scotland by storm

Scottish hope for a biker friendly future

There are many reasons to love the electric bike. They can lessen road congestion, make commutes shorter and less stressful, make bike exercise a little less daunting, and also save you some fuel money along the way. With a long list of benefits, it’s surprising that they are not as commonplace in the UK as they are in many other European countries.

However, this may be about to change thanks to a focus on increasing electric bike hire in Scotland which began in 2010.

Stewart Stevenson MSP, Scotland’s Minister for Transport, Infrastructure, and Climate Change, said his “vision is that by 2020, 10% of all journeys taken in Scotland will be by bike.”

Now, with companies like Electric Bike Scotland, e-bikes are becoming widely and cheaply available to sample and rent, with the launch this summer of their bike hire scheme which will include at least 100 e-bikes. A further 50 will be available in a similar scheme in Stirling, and other areas are likely to follow, such as Glasgow. This could potentially influence the rest of the UK to welcome the e-bike, too.

 

Rules and regs

Another useful trait of the e-bike is where it can be used. As long as your bike conforms to EAPC requirements, it can be ridden anywhere you would normally ride your push bike. This means you will be able to follow the bike lane laws just as any other cyclist would, but you will benefit from a much speedier journey with less hassle. These bikes also boast being more accessible to elderly or disabled members of the community, making more people able to commute via bike every day. If you’re looking for one, we recommend Marin bikes as a great starter e-bike – if you’re in Scotland or not.

The benefits of the e-bike are easy to list, but it can be difficult to know what to expect if you haven’t experienced one before, and the uncertainty can be off-putting. The Bicycle Association’s operations director, Steve Garidis, said back in 2017 that “it’s quite difficult to explain what [an e-bike] feels like: you’re still cycling but it’s like being an Olympic athlete; you can go faster and longer; hills are less effort. The acceleration is quite fun, even for the most sceptical grown up.” Still, another concern is for the loss of health benefits that regular cycling brings to the table and the laziness that e-bikes could promote. 

Paul Kenchington, of the Bicycle Chain, said “people have this perception it’s cheating, but e-bikes are starting to become popular among mountain bikers who are reaching 40 or above and want to cycle in the Alps.”

 

Not quite an uphill struggles

Although hills and headwinds will cease to be an issue with the e-bike, most bikes require you to assist with pedalling rather than replace it entirely, so there are still health benefits to be gained. From the average commuter on their everyday journey to the professional biker heading to the Alps, the e-bike is set to not only be a game changer but a “gateway drug into cycling”.

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