Thought you knew everything that you needed to know about e-bikes? Think again.
For Intelligent Transport, Agustin Guilisasti, Founder and CEO of HumanForest, discusses the rising popularity of electric bikes, why shared e-bikes are the future of mobility and how HumanForest is supporting the return of commuters post-pandemic.
The popularity of e-bikes has sparked a newfound love of cycling for urban and rural travellers alike. Their sales were at record highs in the UK in 2020 – up by 92 per cent between April and September year-on-year1 – and it is predicted that twice as many bikes as cars will be bought each year by 2030.
It is predicted that twice as many bikes as cars will be bought each year by 2030″
E-bikes are now a common sight on our streets. Those atop said electric bikes are a diverse bunch, from young to old, commuter to day-tripper – new technology has opened up the feasibility of getting around on two wheels. According to Deloitte’s analysis2, between 2019 and 2022 there will be a doubling in the number of regular bicycle users in many major cities around the world, chiefly due to the popularity of e-bikes.
But not all e-bikes are created equal. We are certainly not short of options; from Brompton’s foldable electric bikes to those offering DIY conversion kits. Few options, however, are offering a truly accessible alternative to getting around. Though prices will fall, at present, e-bikes cost anything from £2,500 to £5,000 to purchase, with conversion kits coming in at only slightly less. But why own when you can borrow?
The benefits of sharing
The sharing economy has already transformed transportation once before – apps like Uber and Cabify have presented genuine alternatives to car ownership in bigger cities in Europe and around the world. In a similar way, shared e-bikes offer all of the benefits of regular e-bikes without the initial outlay and ongoing cost of maintenance, not to mention the threat of theft.
Shared e-bikes offer all of the benefits of regular e-bikes without the initial outlay and ongoing cost of maintenance”
Shared e-bikes by their very nature are more sustainable – every single shared e-bike will see miles of use each day. For all of those minutes that privately owned personal bicycles sit languishing in sheds or tied forlornly to lamp posts, shared e-bikes are being ridden. What that means in practice is that the number of privately owned bicycles you would need to service a city is far higher than the number of shared e-bikes that could do the same job. In short, a model without sharing results in waste and the unnecessary use of additional resources.
This firm belief in the future of mobility being shared e-bikes led me to create HumanForest, a truly sustainable micro-mobility platform with a focus on electric bikes. We will be launching a new fleet of electric bikes in London in summer 2021 as commuters begin journeying back to the office. We have adopted a model where everyone is entitled to the first 10 minutes of their journey for free, and we’ve been able to do this by working with partners to run in-app ads as users unlock the bikes. If the journey lasts less than 10 minutes, it is completely free. This means that users could theoretically travel from Stockwell to Soho in London without paying anything at all.
Putting sustainability at the core
At HumanForest, we’ve sought to make the entire process as efficient as possible by investing in long range swappable batteries and developing charging infrastructure that is green.
At HumanForest, we’ve sought to make the entire process as efficient as possible by investing in long range swappable batteries and developing charging infrastructure that is green”
With shared e-bikes, riders don’t have to worry themselves about batteries and how they are charged. The entire experience is seamless and happens behind the scenes. As an operator at scale, we’re able to spend a long time thinking about how to make fleets as efficient and sustainable as possible. That kind of efficiency comes down to the details –for us, that is the way in which we swap our batteries.
The fleet that supports and maintains our e-bikes is fully electric itself. A single charging vehicle is able to transport around 150 batteries at one time. These vehicles, carefully engineered to accommodate as many batteries as possible, mean that we are able to recharge the fleet centrally in what we call our ‘Greenhouse’, using fully renewable energy. A single battery can provide around 80km in range.
While there’s plenty of options around, the most sustainable and accessible way of getting around on two wheels is shared e-bikes”
While there’s plenty of options around, the most sustainable and accessible way of getting around on two wheels is shared e-bikes. It is also the cheapest. The fleet that we have built is designed to transport people efficiently and in an environmentally friendly manner. The net result is that we can change the world one pedal at a time.
Agustin Guilisasti is the Founder and CEO of HumanForest. Originally from Chile, Guilisasti previously ran Cabify’s LATAM operations, helping it grow into Spain’s first profitable ride-hailing app. On moving to London to complete a Master’s degree in Data Science, he saw a lack of affordable mobility and an opportunity to offer a new type of shared e-bike; one which is truly green. Guilisasti passionately believes that, in the same way that trees remove CO2 from the atmosphere, humans working together can improve the air quality in our cities.
Bikes & Scooters