Is the 45 km/h electric bike a real alternative for the car? Belgian politician does the test

The Belgian Green politician Björn Rzoska has recently entered quite a remarkable commuting experiment. In the next three months, he will travel from his home to the Flemish Parliament in Brussels on a 45 km/h electric bike. As a result, he will be riding around 100 km a day.

Mr Rzoska is a keen cyclist who spends quite a bit of his free time on a racing bike. He is one of the 15 test subjects who partake in scientific research carried out by the Energy & Automation research group of the Belgian University KU Leuven Campus Gent. The research focusses on the experience of users of so-called speed pedelecs, electric bikes offering pedal assistance up to 45 km/h. They are categorized as mopeds. Consequently, today, in Belgium, so-called speed pedelec users must wear a moped helmet and their vehicle must have a number plate. Nevertheless, the Belgian transport minister is still considering the terms of use for these vehicles. She has been advised to allow for the use of a cycling helmet on 45 km/h electric bikes. Her final decision is expected before the summer.

Is it feasible to commute by so-called speed pedelec, even if you live 50 km away from work? Does this means of transport offer a realistic alternative for the car? What about safety? What about comfort? How do people use these vehicles? Does it have an effect on health? Researcher Bram Rotthier is trying to formulate an answer to these questions in the framework of his PhD Research “Quantification of technical performances, cyclist experience and safety of speed pedelecs for commuter use”.

Since the launch of its Light Electric Vehicle (LEV) Task Force last year, AVERE has developed a close relationship with this research group of KU Leuven Campus Gent, as well as with the Brussels university VUB. AVERE LEV Policy Manager Annick Roetynck is an assessor for Bram Rotthier’s thesis. AVERE believes there is a great need for scientific research in the field of LEVs and for a closer relationship between LEV companies and the academic world. Such research is also needed as a solid foundation for legislation governing LEVs. In that framework, AVERE is working intensively with KU Leuven and VUB on type-approval legislation.

The vehicle which Björn Rzoska is using for the experiment is a Stromer bike. The Swiss company is part of the AVERE LEV-TF and has promised its full support and cooperation to the research carried out by the Energy & Automation research group in Gent. There will be regular reports on Mr Rzoska’s experiences on social media as well as on the website of the Flemish newspaper “Het Laatste Nieuws”.

AVERE LEV-TF invites LEV companies that are interested in learning about or contributing to any scientific research on LEVs, as well as on preconditions for their use (helmets, infrastructure, …) to contact LEV policy manager, Annick Roetynck, tel. +32 9 233 60 05, email annick.roetynck@avere.org.

For specific questions about Bram Rotthier’s research: tel. +32 494 34 66 05, email bram.rotthier@kuleuven.be.

A short video (in Flemish) on the start of the experiment is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7ypQGXpOQc

 

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3 thoughts on “Is the 45 km/h electric bike a real alternative for the car? Belgian politician does the test

  1. interesting research..Even though anyone who has tried en e-bike knows the health benefits, others need to know. Also about comfort. My experience in my last job has been more than positive. I did more than 6.000 km last summer on my electric bike. I used my e-bike for all my errands.And in flip flops …

    I also inteviewed a personnal trainer after a 30 km ride. Check his opinion in this article: http://www.kandani.es/blog/ramon-martinez-trainer-speaks-about-electric-bikes-and-training/
    Of course a better reasearch will assure hesitant people about the benefits. Many still think an e-bike goes by itself

    Comfort … well, on Ibiza, in summer, it rains very little. To carry heavy things you need a car, but it can be rented the days needed. Carrying a bag for your computer or documents is easy, and with the help of a box or saddles, no one needs to darry a backpack wich after a few kilometers is very unpleasant.

    The best aspect for me was the psychosomatic. Mens Sanna in Corpore Sano … no more traffic jams, no more bad mood, no more earth polluting, no more being late because unless you get out too late, normally it takes you the same time to go from A to B whether traffic, wind (if not a hurricane)….

    As said, interesting research to prove the benefits.

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  2. We got ourselves a nihola family cargo bike after we got rid of the second car. We made it an ebike to have the comfort. I would do it again. I think the answer lies in the fact that belgium needs to change the financial car policy for firms and employees.

    Like

  3. Helmets are what is stopping me from considering an s-pedelec. An s-pedelec is a bicycle and you cannot ride a bicycle with a motorbike helmet on your head. I even believe that it is dangerous to do so. I can ride my pedelec to over 60 km/h without a helmet and yet I would need a motorbike helmet to ride an s-pedelec to 45 km/h, for my safety? Something is wrong here!

    When the lawmakers decide that a bicycle helmet is enough to ride a bicycle, any kind of bicycle, then I will look at s-pedelecs again.

    Like

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