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A pool ebike at Energy Saving Trust

Ride to work week is a great opportunity to get on to two wheels – but we’ll be riding our ebike year round

Energy Saving Trust staff by the pool ebike

by Kirsty McIver

At the Energy Saving Trust we give lots of advice on how to save energy as you travel, cut fuel bills and live more sustainably. We do our best to apply this ethos to our working life here at Energy Saving Trust.

Our latest step towards zero emission travel is an ebike for our London team. They need to get around the city, to meet our stakeholders and participate in workshops and events. Most of this travel takes place on the tube equalling dirty air (London Underground air is amongst the dirtiest in the country), overcrowding and increasing our carbon footprint. Now, with the ebike, our team can cruise around the city in the fresh air, completely carbon-free.

Zero Emissions Network grant support

We purchased the ebike with the help of a grant from the Zero Emissions Network (ZEN), a partnership initiative by the three east London boroughs of Hackney, Islington and Tower Hamlets. Anyone living or businesses located in these boroughs can join the Zero Emissions Network for support with switching to lower emission travel and energy options.

Around 2,000 ZEN members including Energy Saving Trust are helping to combat London’s air pollution problems by taking advantage of initiatives such as the ebike grant.

Using our ebike

We launched our ebike with demo sessions for the London team; you can see some of us during Storm Gareth (above) – we can confirm that the ebike holds up well in galeforce winds. So far, the feedback is that the bike is very easy to ride, feels safe and has great acceleration.

There is a huge network of Cycle Superhighways (protected, big cycle lanes on some of London’s busiest roads), Quietways (routes following quieter streets, waterways and parks) and general cycle paths all over London, which our team are making the most of. In its first weeks the ebike travelled to Westminster along Cycle Superhighway 1, to ExCel for the Futurebuild Expo and to Transport for London in Southwark.

We chose a VOLT Pulse ebike, used by customers of our ebike Grant Fund in Scotland. It’s a hybrid bike, which means it’s ideal for travelling on a mixture of roads and cycle paths. So it’s a great bike for both experienced riders and novice cyclists, especially those new to ebikes.

It comes equipped with a battery, which powers a small motor on the rear wheel and can carry you 60-80 miles per charge. Charging the battery is straightforward. It slides on and off the bike easily and charges in a couple of hours at a normal power socket.

You can choose from 5 speed settings, ranging from entirely manual to cruising at 15mph, so you don’t need to break a sweat before an important meeting. Otherwise it has all the features you would expect on a pedal bike, with gears and brakes allowing you full control. When you arrive at your destination you can lock it on to a regular bike rack, it’s just slightly heavier to lift on and off – think two year-old, rather than a baby’s weight.

An ebike for your organisation

Aside from funding, there are a few practical issues you’ll need to consider before sourcing an ebike for your organisation:

  • Storage:  you’ll need to have somewhere to store it, plus its battery and accessories. We’re lucky enough to have secure storage available in the building’s basement, and the battery and accessories (helmets, keys etc) are kept in the office.
  • Booking system: we use a simple booking calendar with all staff signing before use to confirm they understand both how to use the ebike and associated risks.
  • Insurance: you’ll need to insure both the bike and its users. We found it straightforward to add the ebike to our organisation’s insurance policy and staff are covered under our Employer’s Liability Insurance.

If you think your workplace would like to get on board with ebikes, the Energy Saving Trust can help.

In England and Wales, the eCargo bike grant fund for organisations (administered by Energy Saving Trust and funded by the Department for Transport), launched in April 2019.

In Scotland, the ebike Grant Fund website has information about upcoming application rounds and applying for a free ebike trial, funded by Transport Scotland.

Other organisations offer commercial ebike hire schemes, should you prefer to loan ebikes, for a monthly fee, rather than committing to buy.  

If you’d like to have an ebike for your personal use, you can look out for schemes in your local area such as Zero Emissions Network that can support you with the purchase price. Cycling organisations, such as Sustrans, are a good source of information, or you could check your local authority website.

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