Electric bicycles for young & healthy commuters
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Caspar van Roosmalen is an student of Industrial Design at DUT currently working on his master's graduation project. The challenge is to make electric bikes attractive for the youth in a context (NL) where such artefacts are generally used by handicapped and elderly.
Here are some thoughts from Caspar;
The electric bicycle is available for several years now and in the Netherlands best known as a solution for elderly people to be able to cycle longer. If the current problems of the electric bicycle are solved it could well be a valuable new means of transportation for commuters.
The average Dutch commuter travels 17 km from home to work each day, a trip that takes about 30 minutes. For distances under 5 km 24% of the Rotterdam commuters use their car and a large number walk or use their bicycle. For distances above 5 km 65% use their car.
An electric bicycle could be a useful alternative to the car and has advantages in urban traffic for various reasons. Cycling can be a relaxing way to go to work. An electric bicycle takes little space and therefore is fast in dense traffic. It decreases parking problems. There is no air and noise pollution. And not the least the support mechanism enables you to cycle a longer distance (5-17km) easier.
There is also a counter side to this story. The Netherlands has great cycling facilities. Its flat geography makes it easy to ride a bicycle and the country has a long bicycle tradition. These factors make it more difficult to introduce an electric bicycle for young people since it is associated with elderly and disabled people - after all why use peddle assistance if you are fit?
A new design of an electric bicycle could only be successful for commuters if its image is improved and the price is low.
How could the image of the electric bicycle be improved to make it attractive to young, healthy commuters?
Leave your thoughts here or send an e-mail to Caspar,
casparspost [at] hotmail [dot] com