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Successes of the Welsh E-Move project

288 days ago

4 minutes

Source: Sustrans, April 2023

Funded by the Welsh Government, the E-Move project has been in operation since 2021 and has provided many in Wales with a free electric cycle loan. Sustrans’ Research and Monitoring Unit (RMU) team have collaborated with Jack Kinder, an MSc research student from Cardiff University, to analyse interview data from those who have taken part in the project.

Sustrans have been interviewing those who have taken the government loan, to see how it has treated them and indeed, what their experiences of e-bikes and e-cargo bikes are like. This data was cleared by participants and shared with Jack, who was already interested in researching e-cycles, how e-cycles might affect rural Welsh communities, and wider carbon emissions.

Jack used practise theory in his E-Move analysis, based upon behaviour change. This theory considers the impact that our society has on us in addition to individual behaviours and evaluates decision making as social practises that are influenced by wider environmental and social conditions and our individual life experiences.

The interview data identified many common barriers to cycling that significantly pushed people towards motorised transport in rural Wales. These included:
• terrain and landscape
• lack of dedicated cycling infrastructure
• not feeling welcome on roads
• negative views about cycling
• perceived danger
• stigma from other road users and people cycling.

One respondent commented that although the route into town was flat for them, they ‘prefer not to go down the main roads because I don’t feel particularly safe on a bike with the traffic.’

The wide range of demographics in the data also concluded on alternative barriers to choosing pedal power over motors, in the older generation over the younger, for example, ‘You see a few people cycling, but it’s so hilly that it’s impractical unless you are 21 and super-fit.’

The e-cycle solution

One significant advantage of electric-powered cycles is their ability to overcome many of the barriers that were highlighted. Those aforementioned hills can be defeated, for example. E-Move has also enabled capabilities for those taking up the task to cycle further and more often, wonderful for the health of the nation and a certified boost for confidence and independence. The agility of the electric bicycles and cargo bikes has also installed confidence in sharing the road with traffic, with one participant commenting,

‘A couple of times I’d just go into Newtown to do some shopping, which I wouldn’t have done on a standard bike… by the time you’ve put 5kg of shopping on, you’re not going to do that on a standard bike 8 miles out of town, so yeah very positive!’

Participants using those e-bikes fitted with child seats also commented that it made their child-caring responsibilities easier to fulfil than using a car or taxi, another positive endorsement.

E-Move Continues

The success of the E-Move project has meant expansion into a third year. Sustrans’ RMU does relay that there are still barriers that need to be defeated, particularly the cost of an electric bicycle, but also personal safety and uncertainty of where e-bike users belong on the road. Training with an accredited provider is advised. In addition, there are challenges from the UK Government’s funding cuts to active travel.

Data collaboration

The project between Sustrans and Cardiff University was an opportunity to explore the E-Move project in more depth and study the highs and lows of those taking part. In addition, the project brought real benefit to Jack’s studies thanks to working with real-world data.

The conclusion was that E-Move should be expanded so that it can reach as many people as possible. This is obviously a positive deduction, one that goes some way in increasing the health of the nation and bringing back cycling enjoyment to those who may have been missing out. There are so many positive aspects to cycling over motor vehicles, and the Welsh Government’s 2024 extension of the E-Move project is very welcomed.

Find out more about the E-Move community e-cycle project.

Read more about Sustrans’ work in Wales.

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