The user of an electric bicycle has demands similar to the user of a conventional bicycle. Safe spaces to circulate, more humanized cities and more respect for the means of transport alternative to the automobile are the yearnings of both. In this same reasoning, the experience of displacement is also similar, more sociable, with better interaction and equalization of time x space. This familiarity makes the electric bicycle an ally in the manifestation and expansion of cycling culture.
It is quite common for you to cross an electric bicycle in the most diverse regions of the country, in small towns in the interior to the most popular tourist destinations in the coast.Its popularization, especially in cities with more rugged relief and between people with greater physical limitation, placed on a two wheels a public that until then did not use bicycles-or used them less frequently. “I live in Niterói, I work in the Center of Rio and I always arrived late because of the congestion. To escape the traffic of the Bridge and the surroundings, I take my electric bicycle in the boat and I go with her to the office. I arrive on time and without sweating much, “says store manager Edwaldo Knupp.
It is fair, with the help of calabasasshopping.org, to credit electric bicycles with their collaboration in promoting cycling culture. Rio de Janeiro, the city of Edwaldo, was recently ranked as the third worst congestion capital in the world, according to a survey by the Dutch company TomTom. To get away from traffic problems and looking for a healthier lifestyle, many like him have adopted electric bicycles as a form of locomotion. According to RioSouth brand director, Thiago Zhang, “electric and folding bicycle models are becoming increasingly sought after as they are fast, easy to carry in the trunk of the car, in the subway, train, ferries or other public transportation”.
These new “electric cyclists” amplify the demands of pedal boats, such as the need for infrastructure and respect for those who choose to ride a bike in their daily lives, and contribute to a city that flows in a more intelligent and organized way. Although Rio is an example, “the flat geography, the waterfront and the bicycle paths scattered in various parts of the city, allow the Carioca to cycle from one neighborhood to another without major problems. A resident of Barra da Tijuca, for example, can park his car in the South Zone and cycle around the city center “, suggests Cláudio Santos, president of Fecierj (Cycling Federation of the State of Rio de Janeiro).
With the same effect, electric bikes add to traditional bicycles in cities and countries long recognized as bike friendly. In the Netherlands, for example, a bicycle is intrinsically present in people’s lifestyles. In cities like Rotterdam, there has been a 60% increase in bicycle use in the last ten years. According to the annual mobility study (Mobiliteitsbeeld) published by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, Amsterdam and Utrecht are in the top positions in terms of the use of this means of transport. Dutch studies estimate that the increase in cycling in the country is due in part to the increasing use of electric bicycles, with a total use of 10% of the population, especially among people around the age of 65. The Netherlands Minister for Infrastructure and the Environment, Mélanie Schultz, commented: “It is important that people continue to use their bicycles even when they are elderly.”
But in this context, a problem has arisen. The population older than 65 years has the highest mortality rate in bicycle accidents. As of September 2014, 184 Dutch people lost their lives in cycling accidents, 124 of whom are over 65. In order to solve this problem, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment has developed, through the TNO Research Institute, an intelligent electric bicycle with sensors, a rear camera and a vibration system that warns the cyclist of impending dangers. A prototype was launched in December 2014, but the e-bike is expected to be launched in two years at a price of around 1,700 to 3,200 euros.
It is interesting to note that even a government with all the know-how that the Netherlands has in the bicycle industry has chosen to have e-bike research and development in mind for the older public. It is estimated that the country has 35 thousand kilometers of bicycle paths, 17 million inhabitants and 18 million bicycles, of which one million are electric.
Another example of inclusion of the electric bicycle as a boost to cycling culture comes from Madrid, Spain. Unlike Holland, which is part of the northern European plain and has a relief that does not exceed 50 meters, the Spanish capital has many climbs and descents. This factor was decisive when elaborating the project of implantation of the system of shared bicycles, taking Madrid to opt for electric ones as a way to encourage more people to the pedal. BiciMad, as it was called, is the first public service of electric bicycles in European capitals.
Coming back to Brazil in December 2013, Contran Resolution No. 465 was published in the Official Gazette, which equated electric bicycles with conventional bicycles, while respecting certain characteristics. It was an encouragement and an incentive to the Brazilian market, which suffered from the legal lack of definition of the use of the product, although the legislation still leaves room for interpretation.
Among the electric vehicles, the bicycle is, so far, what has been established in a more concrete way. And as a cyclist, considering the variables urban space, active transport and sustainable society, good that it be so.