A report from Deloitte has predicted bicycles are set to conquer the 2020s, saying that “tens of billions of additional bicycle trips per year will take place in 2022 over 2019 levels”… and those new cyclists are not going away anytime soon.
The next decade will also be marked by many challenges and social disruptions that will be in turn fuelled by fundamental transformations in technology, society, and the environment.
A bicycle for every challenge
According to the Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions 2020 report recently published by Deloitte, approximately 3 million people worldwide move into cities and urban areas every week. If you project that figure, it turns out that 2.5 billion more people will likely be living in urban areas by 2050. As it stands, our current transport systems are simply not equipped to efficiently accommodate such an increase in demand. Cities will, therefore, need to come up with quick and simple solutions to reorganise mobility.
Bicycles are a comprehensive transport tool that would be a mistake to overlook: accessible to all types of users, producing major health benefits and offering a carbon-neutral solution, bikes have the potential to revolutionise urban mobility. By further equipping them with an electric motor, bikes will be able to widen even more their potential user base and expand their reach over the 10km per commute. According to Deloitte, “On an e-bike, a bicyclist can attain an average speed of about 22 kilometres an hour. (…) At such speeds, an e-bike might even outpace a car, bus, or subway”. This is especially the case during rush hour traffic conditions.
28 percent of e-bike buyers bought the e-bike as a substitute for a car, not as an upgrade to a bike.
The Deloitte report also predicts that e-bike sales will top 40 million units worldwide between 2020 and 2023. For the record, only 12 million electric vehicles (cars and trucks) are expected to be sold in 2025. As a cost-effective alternative to the car, bikes are a convenient and attainable transport mode for urban areas. “By 2023, the total number of e-bikes in circulation around the world should reach about 300 million, a 50 percent increase over 2019’s 200 million.”
A bicycle for every use
For over 200 years, the bicycle has evolved from its simple origins to fulfill many different needs, encompassing e-bikes, shared bikes, cargo bikes…
An ECF study issued in 2014 found that over 50% of all motorised trips in EU cities related to the transport of goods could take place just as efficiently by shifting transport modes to e-cargo bikes.
In addition to their routine commute, people also look for a flexible transport mode that is available anytime, anywhere. As per the Deloitte report, “More than 1000 dock-based bike sharing programs exist worldwide, representing tens of millions of shareable bikes”. The electrification of shared bikes has enhanced the availability and efficiency of these services even further.
A bicycle for everything
The latest innovations in cycling technology have made bicycles faster, better and safer. GPS, routing and navigation systems make cycling that much more enjoyable, practical and fun. New apps can calculate the number of calories burned and measure the amount of greenhouse gas saved as a result of not driving. These apps include real-time information that can improve the cycling experience and can also contribute to making cycling in an urban environment safer.
Of course, much more can still be done for cycling: artificial intelligence could one day predict pollution peaks and suggest alternative routes; chips and RFIDs could provide cities with invaluable data for planning purposes, as well as potentially making bike theft a memory of the past.
Sustainable, affordable, faster and safer; the technological transformations will push cycling to the top of the pack in the decades to come. The bicycle is here to stay, and future advances will only serve to harness the potential of the humble bicycle to eventually become the leader of the urban mobility sector.