An electric bicycle may be your next vehicle, says study


A green Mamba, top speed 43kph. Battery under the luggage rack. Photo courtesy Wattworld

Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – E-bikes are beginning to take off in Geneva. The typical rider of an electrically-assisted bicycle is a woman who leaves her car at home and rides about 6 or 7km to and back from work in downtown Geneva. Several of Geneva’s outlying communes help buyers with subsidies that go as high as CHF500 in Grand-Saconnex or Meyrin, according to a study on electric bicycle use in Geneva made public recently.

Users are motivated as much by ecological reasons as health or the difficulty in finding parking space downtown. About 10 percent of Geneva citizens are likely to be using this form of transportation by 2030.

There are two classes of bike. Those with a maximum speed of 25km/hour do not require more than a bicycle sticker from the post office. Top of the line models will go faster than 40km/h and need a yellow licence plate like a small scooter.

The bikes are trying to overcome their clunky image, as well. New designs are being introduced and overall weight is coming down by using longer-lasting and lighter batteries.

The upswing is clear. Swiss electric bicycle users number almost 45,000, and as many electric bikes were sold in Switzerland in the first half of 2009 as in all of 2008: 16,000. The canton of Geneva has 3,000 users of e-bikes. But Switzerland still has a long way to catch up. Claude Isler of Wattworld, a Geneva seller of electric bicycles, told GenevaLunch that more than 100,000 people use electrically-assisted bikes in the Netherlands.

Cantonal authorities are interested and are considering some form of help canton-wide. The study by Giuseppe Pini of the University of Geneva Mobility Observatory (OUM) was mandated by the city of Geneva and the canton, along with the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE).

Links to other sites: OUM site, SFOE site, TdG, Wattworld


  1. Mrs. D.S. Gaechter says:

    As an ageing biker who needs some help uphill, the new electric bikes are great news. My only comment, question; with more folks encouraged to bicycle places, is there an increasing problem of auto and truck drivers resenting the two-wheeled traffic?
    I live in the country and a friend cycles regularly about 5 km on a “D” truck route to our nearest village. He is very often subjected to loud horns and verbal abuse from the drivers as they pass him. Is this the way of the future?

  2. […] To speed this process, one common approach—evident in the bevy of tax credits available for purchasers of hybrid and electric cars—would be to subsidize e-bike sales. That’s what Santa Cruz, California, did early in the 2000s decade. Coupons from local authorities helped sell as many as 1,000 e-bikes there, making it briefly the e-bike capital of North America. Similarly, rebates from Swiss localities have boosted e-bike sales in Switzerland. Some 16,000 sold there in the first half of 2009, according to one report. […]

  3. Nobi says:

    I am sure that electric bicycles have a great future. In
    Paris electric bicycles are already subsidized.

  4. Bruce says:

    We are HUGE fans of electric bikes, scooters and more importantly electric cars. If any manufacturer of electric vehicles wants to offer coupons, I’ll GIVE them free advertising on to help get their cause started.

  5. John says:

    Initially I had the impression that e-bicycle was a waste of money. Mrs. D.S. Gaechter’s comment revealed its usefulness.

  6. kevin says:

    These days everyone seems to look for the easiest form of transport. Electric bikes may well be the future and with people not willing to excert themselves any more than they have to i can see this becoming very popular. Children are also jumping on this bandwagon but not with electric bikes but electric scooters. Teenagers where i live are using them to travel to and from college. They are very affordable and compact and ultimately enviromently friendly. Expect to see more and more of these 2 types of transport in the near future.

  7. As a kid I used to ride my bicycle but never thought of an e-bike anytime. With an increasing pollution the option of riding an e-bike is great. I feel cities like Geneva where most of the commuters commute with the help of a bicycle the e-bike will surely become a hit.

    I feel all of the next generation will ride an e-bike. The future is near. Kudos.

  8. Wow. Didn’t realize how many e-bikes were being used in different countries. Sounds like the Netherlands has this mode of transport dialed. Haven’t really seen many in our neck of the woods, but hope to soon. Thanks for the info!

  9. steve says:

    Its neat what the Swiss localities are doing, and its cool what Santa Cruz did, but its not really necessary. Many eBikes can be had for $500 or so. Battery technology needs to come along in the coming years, but as far as the motor goes its pretty simple technology. I make many of my errands around San Diego CA on an electric bike I bought from Costco for $500. Its really easy, I don’t pedal almost at all, and when I get home I don’t worry about parking. Its not going to be for a 75 mile commute, but for the grocery store it works great. Jump in, the water’s fine (just don’t have the battery on).

  10. I have been commuting to work and back for years on my electric bike. It really is a great forom of transportation. We need get more people on the program.

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