Ireland’s first uniquely e-bike (electric bicycles) initiative was launched last week all in the efforts to promote green alternatives to commuting and lead the way to the future of transport.
The Lord Mayor of Cork City, Cllr Joe Kavanagh and Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley were directly involved in launching the innovative wE-bike campaign to promote the use of electric bicycles as an everyday mode of transport around Cork city and county region. The wE-bike campaign highlights its pioneering features while advocating for the certain economical and eco-friendly benefits of e-bikes such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The introduction of the new wE-bike initiative effectively coincides with Cork Bike Week, which starts from Friday, 18th – 27th of September. The range of functionality from an e-bike is unparalleled – it enables cyclists to tackle longer distances and hilly areas and offers a significantly cheaper way of travel than by car. The project aims to improve large area of social aspects within the Cork community, from work and school commutes, leisure trips, reintroduction of cycling for retirees, as well as clearing traffic congestions, car park wars, pollution and carbon emissions.
The sales of bicycles have reportedly risen since March in conjunction with the early Covid-19 lockdown period with the pedal-assisted electric bikes rapidly gaining massive popularity. During this period, the country witnessed resurgence for cycling and decreases in car usage for making local trips. However, three in four journeys in Ireland are still made by car despite more than half of all trips being than 8km, according to recent data from the Central Statistics Office. The new e-bike campaign hopes to bring about positive changes in the use of e-bikes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through behaviour change.
According to the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Joe Kavanagh, “People are becoming increasingly interested in e-bikes as they are a super way to keep us healthy, reduce carbon emissions, and not least, are a very pleasant way of getting around. Cork’s future is being built on sustainability and climate action so it’s great to see the city and county councils working together on this innovative initiative."
Mayor of County Cork, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley comments, ‘Cork is home to beautiful sights and scenery and is the perfect county to experience while cycling. This initiative encourages travel in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way, while reaping the benefits to health and wellbeing and enjoying our beautiful surroundings.” Sandy McGroarty, Coordinator of the Transport and Mobility Forum and we-bike Cork, who are one of the partners in the campaign, adds: "We feel proud to be the first dedicated electric cycling advocacy group in Ireland and hope to inspire other counties to follow us in our pursuit to share the joy of electric cycling. We will have a virtual launch on International Car Free Day 22nd September as part of our online screening of Motherload and panel discussion.”
In another strategy to incentivise the public in making the switch towards e-bikes, 27 Credit Unions in Cork are providing financial services to its members to support the costs of purchasing an e-bike. The additional equipment costs for e-bikes can also be covered with this loan. The wE-bike initiative includes seven e-bike ambassadors spread across the Cork city and county whose lives have been transformed by e-bikes. To find out more about their stories, visit we-bike.ie.
University College Cork has also advocated the use of e-bikes as a primary mode of transport and encouraged its staff and students to make the switch. According to the UCC green campus site, ‘e-bikes are ideal for UCC commuters, allowing more significant distances to be covered and helping with the hilly areas around Cork’. An estimated of UCC’s annual carbon emissions of 21% can be attributed to the staff and students commute patterns to and from the University. It is predicted by the University that decrease in commuting levels will result in a reduction rate of 8% in carbon footprint for 2020.