Olympic countdown - Reasons for a London Cycle Map, #30. Perfect for electric bikes.

#30. PERFECT FOR ELECTRIC BIKES. Around 3 million people take the Tube each day, with over 500 trains rattling round the network during peak periods. The average speed on the Tube is around 20 miles per hour, including stops. In total, the Tube eats up 1,163,000,000,000 watt hours of electricity per year.

That’s a lot of power – especially when you consider that electric bikes are six times more energy efficient than trains. If all those Tube passengers used an electric bike instead, London’s energy bill would be dramatically slashed.

Is this just an idle fantasy? Surely electric bikes are too expensive, and London’s too big and scary for cycling to achieve mass popularity?

Not at all. A decent electric bike costs around £500 – surely less than the average Londoner spends on travel each year – and with the help of a motor the vast majority of Londoners could easily cycle the large distances involved in living in a metropolis.

As for navigating those journeys, if the authorities installed road signs and markings corresponding to Simon Parker’s London Cycle Map throughout the London Cycle Network, cyclists could ride from anywhere to anywhere in the capital by following just a few coloured cycle routes on safer, quieter streets.

It would be as if every Londoner had their own little Tube train!

The slightly slower speed of electric bikes (maximum 15mph) would be compensated for handsomely, not just by their energy efficiency, but by the vastly greater well-being cycling brings. Instead of being restricted to grim Tube trains (or traffic jams), users of electric bikes could travel wherever and whenever they wanted, while getting some moderate exercise in the fresh air.

A London Cycle Map, combined with electric bikes for those people who would struggle with cycling longer distances, would utterly transform London for the better, both economically and psychologically.


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