Electric bikes are answer to a very hilly problem
'Tha'll never get folk cycling here,' has always been a popular public rejoinder to the Outdoor City's pedal promotion lobby.Â 'Not until the day tha gets rid of these hills.'Â
Sheffielders, that day has come.Â 'If you use one of these,' said Angela Walker, after breezing up and down the slopes of Heeley with several boxes on herÂ bicycle and a smile on her face, 'you're still exercising, but it flattens the hills. And it's fun.'Â As a recent Public Health England report lists Sheffield as12th worst out of 16 UK local authorities for air pollution, Angela saysÂ the new electric pedal assist technology sweeping through the cycling industry is now a real answer for companies andÂ families who want to reduce polluting car or van journeys and ride a bike instead.Â 'It really does make a difference having an electric bike, because all those hills that seem such a challenge for people wantingÂ to cycle in Sheffield just disappear, because the bike takes the strain.'Â Angela and her team from the Recycle Bikes social enterprise have just launched the new Sheffield CycleBoost loanÂ scheme with Sheffield Council where, for a small returnable deposit, individuals and companies can borrow a free e-bike orÂ ordinary commuter bike. (SeeÂ https://www.sheffieldcycleboost.orgÂ for more details).Â Although a standard e-bike does make it easier to fill your bike bags and e-pedal home with the shopping, it doesn't help youÂ get two or three of your kids to school, or your parcels or leaflets to your customers and clients.Â But a growing range of e-cargo bikes does exactly that: rather than struggle up cobbled cliffs with your bike like the famousÂ bread delivery boy, you can now join the handful of local business and families who have discovered the modern way to enjoyÂ the school run or beat any upcoming city centre congestion charge.Â Gareth Roberts of the Regather Trading Cooperative uses a colossal pedal van to carry event equipment or food deliveries, forÂ example: 'People see me riding up hills, and say how on Earth do you do that?' he says, adding he only reveals the electricÂ motor involved when pressed.Â Last year, Rosie Frazer of South Yorkshire's Love to Ride cycling scheme trialled a Dutch Babboe e-trike on her school run upÂ and down the mountains of Meersbrook with her three young children.Â 'Rather than having to take my son to school and then walk and bus the girls to nursery, I could do it all in one journey. AndÂ the kids loved it!'Â Many parents who'd like to cycle the school run give up after their second child, said Rosie, due to the logistical difficulties. ButÂ putting them all in an electrically assisted machine, and then carrying on to work and using the same tricycle to drop off leafletsÂ (or even transport small folding bikes) made perfect sense to Rosie. 'We got a lot of attention, and I could see lots of people thinking about how they could use an e- bike like this in their ownÂ lives.'Â They can at least give it a try, is the answer. Recycle Bikes also offer the loan of their two e-cargo bikes to families or businesses.Â Their S-Cargo bikes have room for up to 100kg of load - or two kids - and Outdoor Citizens can give e-cycling a go from Â£12,Â said Angela Walker. Sheffield director of public health Greg Fell said reducing the city's air pollution is not going to happen overnight, but heÂ believes these kinds of cycling machines will certainly help, particularly as local bike shops and city employers are now gearing up toÂ offer e-bikes on terms far cheaper than monthly car travel and parking costs.
'We all know the answer to our air pollution and congestion problems is that we cycle and walk more and get the bus and trainÂ more,' said Greg. 'A friend who visited Copenhagen recently was astounded by all the bicycle related machines of all shapes and sizes.
'And thatÂ will come here, I have no doubt about that.'Â