E-bikes aren’t just a trend, they’re here to stay. They make cycling more accessible and fun to different age groups, demographics, and well, anyone who wants some pedal assistance up a steep hill.
Currently, there is little in the way of e-bike specific infrastructure. Batteries are getting more powerful, as well as smaller, charges are lasting longer, and some batteries are removable – making charging much simpler.
One direct comparison are electric vehicle charging points, which have grown at an expanding rate over the previous decade. The UK government is even looking to make them a requirement for certain new buildings.
So is e-bike charging headed in a similar direction?
E-bike charging points within cycling facilities
While some people will be able to carry their battery to their desk or apartment, there are many more instances where you’d be grateful for a charging point in situ.
If you live in an apartment block with either a basement or externally located cycle parking store, having a charging station within those facilities is essential. The same goes for basement office cycle stores or outdoor shelters.
Including charging station provision as part of wider stores accounts for those with e-bikes, and may even encourage employees to go out and purchase an e-bike and make the switch to active travel.
Locking and security
E-bikes, even at their most affordable, are more expensive than an average bicycle. It does beg the question: are they too expensive to be kept in bike racks at all?
For electric folding bikes, lockers offer extra security. For all other e-bikes, having charging stations as a part of secure cycle stores or shelters adds extra security. Keypads or dedicated keycard access are important here.
Charging stations themselves function like a Sheffield stand in terms of locking. That means they’re accessible for cargo e-bikes if spaced correctly, and don’t require any lifting of the bike to use.
A locked compartment for removing and storing the battery means you can keep everything in one place, without having to bring your battery to your desk or apartment.
Beyond privately owned e-bikes, the micro-mobility is set to expand rapidly. Schemes such as Uber/Lime’s Jump bikes provide a dockless system, with swappable batteries that are replaced by the company when necessary.
However, dockless systems aren’t perfect. There are issues with cluttering pavements, and in some cases providing hazards for disabled and visually impaired pedestrians. Moreover, research is suggesting that to encourage wider microbility usage, the locations of fleets is paramount.
So could we see universal e-bike docking stations? They, in theory, have the potential to service both rental fleets as well as private e-bikes.