Millions of e-bikes could be sold in the UK each year as improvements to bicycles and better cycling routes make cycling increasingly popular.
These are the findings of the cycling retailer Halfords which has predicted that sales of e-bikes could exceed 1.5 million in ten cities across the UK by 2050.
The retailer are forceasting 2019 is set to be the biggest year in history for e-bike sales in the UK.
‘Electric bike sales are on the rise (around 50,000 – 60,000 are sold each year in the UK compared to overall UK bike sales of over 3 million), and the evidence points towards serious growth over the next 30 years,’ the retailer said in its forecast.
Electric bikes are very similar to regular bicycles, except they feature a battery and motor which aid riders as they pedal.
The bikes are already popular in the bike-loving Netherlands where over 400,000 e-bikes were sold in 2018, accounting for over 68% of total bicycle sales within the country.
Using data from online transactions and Google trends, as well as predictions from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), Halfords said that e-bike sales are already likely to increase by 30% next year.
The retailer said that changes over the next decade, such as a move towards electric vehicles and an increase in dedicated bike lanes and electric bike hire schemes, could see the sale of over 8,000 bikes a year in ten UK cities including Belfast, Manchester, and London.
‘This move towards electrification, along with much stricter pollution rules within towns and cities could see the bike become a key mode of transportation,’ they said.
Halfords added that by 2050 new battery technology and lower manufacturing costs could see e-bikes become as common as pedal-powered bikes.
The forecast has been welcomed by environmental campaigners who said that electric bikes could lead to a cleaner future for the UK’s cities.
Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth chief executive, said: ‘Electric bicycles can potentially play a big role in cleaning up our transport by removing dirty vehicles from our roads and getting people onto two wheels.
‘People who may have previously been unable to travel by bicycle could have an entirely new, cleaner way of getting around.’
Halford’s forecast comes as the government and local authorities face growing pressure to improve cycling provisions across the UK.
A recent report published by the sustainable transport charity Sustrans concluded that policy-makers need to do more to encourage women, older people and disabled people to take up cycling.