Response to OLEV call for evidence

Response to OLEV call for evidence on Government measures to support uptake of ultra low emission vehicles from 2015-2020

The Smart e-bikes Project research team: Sally Cairns (TRL and UCL), Frauke Behrendt (University of Brighton) and David Raffo (University of Ulster) with specialist advice from Andy Cope (Sustrans) and Lynn Sloman (Transport for Quality of Life) made a response to the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV)’s call.

The team’s overall contention is that OLEV should make electrically-assisted bikes a priority component of their 2015-2020 programme, and support their uptake in a number of different ways.

As noted in a recent OECD discussion paper, globally, the overwhelming majority of electric vehicles are electric bikes and scooters.

Electrically-assisted bikes offer considerable advantages over other types of electric vehicles in that:

  • They are relatively cheap, thereby making them accessible to a wider range of people than electric cars/vans – and with potential social inclusion benefits (for example, they have been offered in some ‘Wheels to Work’ schemes, enabling jobseekers to take up new employment opportunities).
  • Unlike other options, they offer potential health benefits through the physical activity generated, which has been shown to be sufficient to be of value, as discussed further below.
  • They make relatively efficient use of road space, which may be particularly important in dense urban environments, where road space is constrained.

In brief, support for electrically-assisted bikes could potentially deliver excellent value for money, reaching relatively large numbers of people, and achieving economic and health benefits, in addition to environmental benefits.

It should be noted that the number of electrically-assisted bikes sold in the UK already far outstrips the number of electric cars and vans sold. In 2009, the British Electric Bike Association reported that over 15,000 units were sold in the UK. For 2011, a figure of 20,000 is quoted, and the market is thought to have expanded since that time.

The remainder of the team’s response comprises:

  • A brief definition of electrically-assisted bikes, and a short summary of their environmental and health credentials.
  • A summary of potential policy measures that could be considered.
  • A summary of some of the results from our research work, suggesting the potential of this type of transport.

To read the full response: OLEV call for evidence response – e-bikes

e-bikes in action at three events in Brighton

Brighton and Hove City Council’s Transport Planning Department are borrowing three of our electric bikes for three community events in Brighton. Members of the public will see the bikes in action and some people will have the opportunity to ride an e-bike for up to an hour in a free cycle training session with a qualified cycle trainer.

Saturday, 15th February 2014
1.00 – 5.00 pm
The Energy Café
Hollingdean Community Centre, Thompson Road, Brighton
energy cafe

Wednesday, 19th February 2014
11.00 am – 3.00 pm
The launch of a new ‘Bike Hub’
Circus Street, Brighton

Friday, 21st March 2014
4.30 – 7.00 pm
An event prior to a ‘Positive Energy’ meeting at the Centre
Hanover Community Centre, Brighton
(More information to follow.)

University of Brighton commuter trials

The last of the bikes are being returned this week after two very successful trials with staff from the University of Brighton. The first trial participants collected their bikes at the end of June / early July and over the following two months the participants were able to take advantage of the wonderful summer weather. In September the bikes were returned, serviced and sent out again with the second tranche of participants.

Forty members of staff took part in the two trials; the participants were based in all three of the university’s Brighton campuses which are spread across the city. The project team would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved.

An enormous amount of data and information has been collected during these trials; we will now be busy collating and analysing this rich source of material and preparing the project report!

Community trial 2 and the Bikehanger

The Smart e-bikes project is pleased to announce that the Smart e-bikes project at the University of Brighton has funded Brighton’s first Bikehanger, an on-street lock up, in a residential neighbourhood in Brighton. The Bikehanger incorporates 6 spaces and initially 3 of these will be used by the project for a community trial. Two sets of local residents will participate in the trials; the first 3 people have taken their bikes and will be using the bikes over the next couple of months.

On 7th September, the local residents association, Drara, posted the news about the Bikehanger plus new parking spaces for twelve more bikes. These spaces had been installed following discussions between Drara and relevant authorities and were funded as part of an ongoing initiative to integrate local transport.

Dr Frauke Behrendt who is leading the project at the University of Brighton commented, “We are interested in finding out how the combination of an e-bike and sheltered cycle storage might encourage people in a hilly area to take up cycling. We are especially interested to get people involved who do not have space to park their bike in or outside their house.”

Once the trial use is over, the Bikehangar will be handed over to the management of Drara with spaces available to rent for nearby residents.

Drara’s post about the new cycle parking

Cyclescheme at University of Brighton – increased to £2,000

The University of Brighton announced the news that university staff can now borrow up to £2000 for the purchase of a tax-free bicycle and cycling safety equipment through Cyclescheme.

Smart e-bikes project leader, Dr Frauke Behrendt, worked closely with the university’s environmental team and the project was one of the key drivers in negotiating this welcome increase in the amount available. As Dorinda Kealoha, Environmental Officer at the university, said, “… this much anticipated increase in the bike loan limit means that even e-bikes and top of the range folding bikes can now be included in the scheme.”

Smart e-bikes at the Eco Technology Show

The Smart e-bikes Project had a stand at the Eco Technology Show held at Brighton Centre on 14 – 15 June 2013. One of the excellent cycle trainers used by the project was on hand on both days to give advice and help people who wanted to ‘have a go’ on a Raleigh Dover bike (one of the bikes used for the trials) and people seemed to enjoy the experience of whizzing around the area at the back of the ground floor of the Brighton Centre.

Several people were interested in finding out more about the project and it was a worthwhile experience for the project team and a chance to meet and discuss the project with members of the public and other people interested in sustainability and alternative transport.

On Friday, 14th June at a talk entitled Bupa International taps into pedal power: Will we all be riding e-bikes in years to come?, Harriet Barratt Dorling, Manager of Economic and Social Engagement in the Arts at the University of Brighton’s Faculty of Arts, gave a short presentation on the research project, its aims and methodologies. A Bupa employee who took part in the Smart e-bikes research trial gave a first hand account of how she found the experience of using an electric bike. Although she enjoyed the experience, she explained that she is a very keen cyclist and over the period of the 2 month trial she noticed that her levels of fitness had dropped. However, she did stress that she cycles every day on a normal bike and felt that for most people this would not be a problem as she believed that the opportunity to use an electric bike was mostly beneficial and more likely to encourage exercise and the use of a bike for the majority of people.

Bupa International was the initial company to be involved with the Smart e-bikes Project and the data collected from the trials forms an integral part of the research for the project. Forty-one Bupa staff took part in 2 sets of trials between June and November 2012.

Commuter Trial at the University of Brighton

We are very pleased to announce that the next commuter trial will be with the University of Brighton. The university’s Environment Team is working in partnership with the Smart e-bikes Project, to loan e-bikes free of charge to approximately 40 members of university staff in two trials.

The first trial is about to start with 20 members of staff from the university, but due to the research project’s geographical limits, only Brighton based staff can participate in the trial. For the first trial we shall be working with staff based at all four Brighton campuses. The selected trial participants will be contacted soon. Those that could not be included in the trial at this point will also be contacted soon.

Although the first tranche of participants are about to begin their trials, a staff survey is still open up until 29th June for potential participants for the second trial which is due to start in the Autumn term.

Latest news from the project

The Smart e-bikes Research Project has recently published two videos about its work, and also features on the Guardian website.


We have recently uploaded 2 videos, which were filmed during an e-bikes trial event in Brighton on 9th March 2013.

The aim of the event was to raise public awareness of e-cycling, by offering free training to members of the public, and to gather information for the research project. The event was organised by the University of Brighton and Brighton & Hove City Council, and funded by the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

One video provides interviews with the participants at the event and captures their attitudes and insights. The other video concentrates on the nature of the project research – explaining its rationale, the trials involving a fleet of 35 e-bikes in Brighton and Hove, and the development of an open-source/sensor monitoring system that enables real-time display of rider data, plus research analysis.

The videos are available at: and



A thoughtful article, written by Dr Frauke Behrendt, the Smart e-bikes Project Leader, has recently been published on the Guardian Sustainable Business partner zone, entitled “Using electrically-assisted bikes: lazy cheaters or healthy travellers?”

It is available at:

Brighton & Hove Active Travel Forum – 19 March 2013

Brighton and Hove’s latest ‘Active Travel Forum’, organised by Brighton & Hove City Council, took place at the University of Brighton, Grand Parade building, on Tuesday 19th March.

Frauke presented the Smart e-bikes research project alongside other presentations on:

  • Brighton Bike Train: Promotion, support and resources
  • Personalised Travel Planning 2012: What the public think about travel
  • City Cycle Ambition grants: New funding for Brighton & Hove?

For enquiries about the Active Travel Forum, contact David Brindley, Health Promotion Specialist, Brighton & Hove City Council: