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February 4, 2019

Will e-bike sharing platforms revolutionize urban commuting?

During the past decade, station-based bicycle sharing has been introduced to many cities throughout the world with the goal of promoting a healthier and more livable environment. During this same timeframe, electric bikes have grown in popularity. According to eCycleElectric’s annual study of electric bike sales in the U.S., 263,000 electric bikes were sold in 2017, a 340 percent increase from 2016. E-bikes are a convenient – and efficient – way for people to travel around a city.

While bicycles are already faster than cars for trips up to 3 miles, e-bikes double the distance to 6 miles. Electric bikes are especially useful for the considerable inclines contained in many cities, as well as a great solution for people who live a distance from their work or other destination.

The increasing need for innovative solutions to the growing demand for sustainable, efficient as well as economical options for urban transportation has led researchers to develop an innovative sustainable bicycling solution that combines bicycle-sharing platforms with electric bicycles fitted with sensors that communicate with the Internet of Things (IoT).  

There are numerous benefits of this new generation of bicycle-sharing programs that use connected e-bikes.

1.  Power

Electromechanical doping through power and sensing is able to optimize the rider’s energy while riding, reducing the need for pedaling up to 40 percent.

2.  Lower vandalism rates

Sensors and automotive tracking give program managers the ability to track users’ behavior and reduce the risk of theft and vandalism, which are significant problems with current bike sharing systems.

3.  Safety

The new e-bikes are connected to the IoT using sensors that have the ability to activate automatic directions and stop lights, thus improving safety of the rider.

4. Parking

The tracking system will enable the new e-bikes to be parked in virtual stations, making it convenient for riders to park the bikes.

5.  Big data and artificial intelligence (AI)

The new e-bikes will have the ability to send data to the program managers to help track the quality of roads and monitor air pollution, thus improving the city environment for everyone.

Every city has different needs and different budgets. One of the benefits of the new e-bike sharing system is that the up-front cost for the infrastructure of the program is minimized. This will make it easier for cities to invest in the program no matter their population size. In the future, free-floating bike sharing platforms that offer connected e-bikes will become the norm, increasing the number of bicycle riders, reducing pollution and lowering maintenance costs for the city or town.

Marsh & McLennan Agency (MMA) offers specialized bicycle industry insurance programs to help ensure the long-term health of your business and employees. Contact us here if you would like to learn more about our innovative bicycle risk protection options.