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).