“With the speed pedelec, quickly through traffic.” Under this motto, 11 UZ Brussel employees have kicked off the Flemish mobility project 365SNEL on Friday 28 September. The objective of 365SNEL (SNEL is Dutch for “fast”) is to research and optimize the potential of the speed pedelec for commuting. To this end, in the coming year some hundred test riders will get the opportunity to try out a speed pedelec for free for three weeks.
A speed pedelec is a bicycle with an electric auxiliary motor that supports up to 45 km/h. With a conventional electric bike, the motor supports up to 25 km/h. The so-called fast, electric bicycles or speed pedelecs offer an important potential for making mobility in Flanders more sustainable. Earlier research by KU Leuven shows that speed pedelec users daily commute just under 30 km a day. This comes very close to the average distance of 30.3 km which Flemish travel for work to Brussels.
Further, punctual and cheaper
The speed pedelec is therefore mainly used for distances that are considered too far for the 25 km/h electric bike. Moreover, the speed pedelec allows avoiding traffic jams and offers punctual and low-cost travel. Nevertheless, there are still a number of obstacles and prejudices hindering this sustainable mobility solution.
With 365SNEL, AVERE Belgium, the Technology Campus Ghent of KU Leuven, O2O and the MOBI research group of the VUB will research these obstacles and prejudices, on behalf of the Flemish government, in order to be able to formulate appropriate solutions. The Flemish Environment Department supports various projects for environmentally friendly vehicles in the implementation of the European Clean Power for Transport program. 365SNEL is one of the selected projects that should result, within two years, in an improvement of both the vehicle itself and its terms and conditions of use. These improvements should encourage more commuters to opt for this alternative means of transport.
In the coming year, companies and their employees will be interviewed about their perception of the speed pedelec. Subsequently, in each province two or three companies will be selected, where ten test riders will be appointed among interested employees. This group is expected to ride to and from work with the speed pedelec for three consecutive weeks. This continuity is important to be able to log their experiences with the fast electric bike in the most diverse weather conditions.
Start of making mobility more sustainable
On Friday 28 September, UZ Brussel has given 11 employees the go-ahead for the first test. Nico Van Elzen, Environmental and Mobility Coordinator, explains why the hospital participates in 365SNEL: “Just like many other organizations, accessibility is of strategic importance to UZ Brussel. If we come across travel alternatives, we investigate them to see how they can help our employees to improve their commuting and contribute to a modal shift. This, in turn, benefits the accessibility of our hospital for employees, patients and visitors alike.”
According to Van Elzen, almost one third of the UZ Brussel staff is already commuting in a sustainable way. A large number have opted for the bicycle and the success of electric bicycles is pushing the modal share of cycling further up. But there is still potential for further growth, says Van Elzen: “The commuting distance is for many employees over 20 km and that proves too much to cover with an ordinary electric bicycle. The speed pedelec can be a solution for this problem, which is why UZ Brussel is participating in the project. No fewer than 105 colleagues were interested in the test. Should the speed pedelecs prove popular with the test riders, then we might consider organizing a group purchase. At the same time, we are also investigating the concept of bicycle leasing. With a significant expansion of our bicycle parking facilities (covered, with badge control and camera surveillance) we have already anticipated a further increase in the number of cyclists. ”
365SNEL is a follow-up to the research carried out last year by AVERE Belgium, KU Leuven and VUB on behalf of the Flemish Government into the potential of light, electric vehicles. This resulted in a very exhaustive report and in a website where the general public can look up the most comprehensive information about light, electric vehicles: https://iiw.kuleuven.be/apps/lev/. For the 365SNEL project there is a separate website, 365snel.net, Facebook user group, 365SNEL and Twitter account, @365SNEL, online.
Companies interested in participating in 365SNEL can contact project officer Nikolaas Van den Steen, email [email protected], tel. +32 498 29 08 67.