Ebikes are shaping our transport. Ebike Gibraltar was created co offer a credible alternative to the scores of combustion engine vehicles that pollute and congest our city on a daily basis and to establish a new tourist based activity for the Rock that is environmentally friendly, active, and fun. We speak with co-founder, Stuart Hedley.
Almost 43,900 motor vehicles are registered for a population of around 34,000 people, and 61% of car journeys are single occupancy (STTPP March 2017). When the LNG power station is fully operational and the diesel generators fall silent, motor vehicles will become the number one air and noise polluters; the biggest complaint from visitors to our shores is the volume of traffic on our roads – the time for action is now.
Tell us a little about your company’s inception and development.
Ebike Gibraltar was conceived to create a new eco -friendly tourist activity on the Rock and to introduce a new personal mode of transport that can improve the quality of life, not only for the user, but also for the wider community.
Recent advancements in technology now ensure that the eBike is a credible alternative to air and noise polluting vehicles. Considering the size, topography, and climate in Gibraltar, the eBike is an excellent solution to our transport needs.
What positive effects have we seen as a result of introducing e-bikes to various other countries, and have you begun to see a similar trend in Gibraltar?
The eBike can significantly improve our lives in 5 distinct ways:
About £10 will buy you a year’s worth of eBike battery charging (averaging 25km per week). Plus, you’ll cut way down on maintenance costs, insurance costs, and parking is free!
PHYSICAL HEALTH BENEFITS
An active lifestyle is a healthier lifestyle. EBikes promote movement and help battle obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure. They are also recommended for the rehabilitation of knee and hip injuries.
BOOST YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Riding an eBike can slash stress levels, boost your mood, and improve cognitive function. Cycling is a great way to get your endorphins flowing and because the benefits of riding an eBike extend beyond the user, eBiking is also a great way of raising your serotonin and oxytocin levels.
CONCERNED ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT?
Cars and motorbikes contribute to both air and noise pollution. EBikes can benefit the wider environment as well as your local community.
MAKE FAMILY TIME BETTER
On an eBike, your kids are closer, the outside world is more engaging, and time slows down. EBikes can turn commuting time into quality family time.
“Cycling is better for health than riding a pedal-assist electric bike, but e-bikes provide a better workout than walking. That’s the conclusion of a new systematic review published in the latest International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity.
Lead author Jessica Bourne, a PhD student in the University of Bristol’s Nutrition Biomedical Research Centre, examined seventeen studies from around the world. She and her associates found that e-cycling “provided physical activity of at least moderate intensity, which was lower than the intensity elicited during conventional cycling, but higher than that during walking.”
Critically, pedal assist technology can be the trigger for getting previously inactive people on bikes. “E-cycling can improve cardiorespiratory fitness in physically inactive individuals,” said the new study, stated to be the “first review to examine the physical activity intensity, cardiorespiratory, metabolic and psychological outcomes associated with e-cycling”. [Forbes.corn)
What can Gibraltar do more of to help facilitate eco-tourism?
Gibraltar has amazing natural features that can be utilised for new ways in which both locals and tourists can engage with the environment. In2Adventures are a company in Gibraltar who are desperately trying to introduce new activities that are environmentally responsible, but they are finding it exceptionally difficult to obtain the licenses they need. The Government needs to work with greater urgency with companies like this to help them develop their range of activities and then help them market these products on a global stage. Gibraltar could become a mecca for eco and adventure tourism.
As part of intended efforts to maintain the positive effects of reduced traffic after lockdown, ebikes were donated to the R9_yal Gibraltar Post Office. Could you tell us a little more about how this came about, how it’s being implemented, and whether it will continue/expand (e.g. will more e-bikes be lent to, say, health workers?)
As well as promoting eBikes in Gibraltar for the past year for tourist and personal use, we have also been persistently lobbying the Government to explore the benefits of eCargo bikes which can provide the ultimate emission-free delivery solution. It was Minister Isola, after experiencing the joy of eBiking for himself, who arranged a meeting for me with Glendon Martinez, director of the Post Office. As a keen cyclist, Mr Martinez was very happy to accept our offer to try one of our eCargo bikes and agreed that they should take it for an extended trial period. The initial test was so successful that a second eCargo bike has been requested and the 2 bikes will be trialled for the next 3 months.
We are also in regular contact with Minister Balban who very much shares our belief in the enormously beneficial impact cycling can make on our city. We are now discussing how we might be able to assist healthcare workers with their personal transport requirements.
What’s in the pipeline for the future of ebikes in Gibraltar?
Although the Covid-19 situation has decimated the tourist sector (75% of our business) we have taken the opportunity to refocus our efforts on the local market. This is one of the reasons cited by the judges for presenting us with the GFSB Innovation Award 2020. Our entire rental fleet is on the road with new local enthusiasts and sales are strong.
Perceived road safety is very much a major concern and without dedicated cycle infrastructure many members of the community are deterred from choosing cycling as their means of transport.
Lockdown has resulted in remarkably lower traffic volumes on our road network which has encouraged many Gibraltarians to take to the bicycle and eBike for their daily exercise allocation. At last we have been able to witness what a safe cycle environment can do for the quality of life for everyone who lives here, and it is pleasing to see that the Government are extremely keen to maintain this scenario as much as possible post lockdown. We massively applaud recently announcements that are looking to address road use and traffic flow and help us avoid returning to the old normal. This is the time make good from a terrible situation and put Gibraltar on target w achieve a greener and more sustainable future which will benefit all.
Forward-thinking cities around the world are taking this opportunity to make extra provision for pedestrians and cycles as people return to work and are less inclined to share confined spaces on public transport. As a member of the Transport Advisory Committee I will continue to lobby for an increase in dedicated cycle infrastructure.
We are delighted that our retail unit in Imperial Ocean Plaza, Ocean Village has reopened and that we are again able to serve the community. We will be expanding our longer-term rental capabilities in line with the local demand we have witnessed in the past month, and we will continue to provide a ‘try before you buy’ opportunity. Bikes can be rented for a day or a week and the rental fee will be deducted from the sales price of the bike if the client wishes to make a purchase. Our intention is that every sale we make has a hugely beneficial impact, not only on the life of the purchaser, but also on the wider environment.
Feature by Sophie Clifton-Tucker, Editor of the Gibraltar Magazine & Gibraltar Business