YouGov poll shows clear appetite for electric bikes, if Cycle to Work limit lifted

A YouGov poll of British Workers has demonstrated that 20% would be interested in buying an electric bike, if the ceiling of the cycle to work scheme were raised to allow tax savings.

Cycling groups and MPs have debated raising the £1,000 ceiling on the scheme in place for some providers and recently Transport Minister Jesse Norman did speak of a required “update” to the scheme.

Norman is also said to have held sway in yesterday’s announcement of a £2 million incentive to drive electric cargo bike uptake among businesses.

This latest research, commissioned by Ovo Energy, outlines that as many as 20% of British workers would be interested in an electric bike purchase if it were made more accessible via the cycle to work legislation.

With just 3% of those surveyed currently in possession of their own electric bike, there is further growth to be seen among those currently enjoying pedal power. Likewise, 47% of regular cycle commuters (those riding once or more per week) would buy into electric bikes if they had better access on the scheme.

Of those that commute by bicycle less than once a month, distance to the workplace was considered is the biggest barrier for over 2 in 5 (44%) respondents.

With the £1,000 cap on purchases affecting most, but not all, of the cycle to work scheme’s providers, electric bikes rarely fall within the scope of the tax benefit at present.

According to German association ZIV, e-Bikes are a regular sight in much of continental Europe; in 2017, 720,000 e-Bikes were sold in Germany, with sales up 19 percent YoY. Currently, one in five bikes sold in Germany is an e-Bike. 900,000 are predicted to be sold in 2018.

According to the research conducted by YouGov and commissioned by OVO Energy, over two thirds (69%) of the UK population have heard of e-bikes, yet only 3% of British adults own one, showing that the barrier is no longer one of awareness.

2016 CONEBI data showed that the UK accounted for 16% of all bicycle sales in Europe, second only to Germany’s 21%. Sales of electric bikes ranked Great Britain 7th with just 5% of all electric bikes sold in Europe, behind Austria, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

YouGov’s data, when broken down, shows a greater appetite for electric bikes as the terrain steepens.

The potential uptake figures were particularly high in the North East (26% agree more likely to buy), Yorkshire and the Humber (26% agree more likely), West Midlands (25% agree more likely) and East Midlands (25% agree more likely).

Increasing the Cycle to Work scheme limit would have significant regional benefits and would significantly support areas outside of London and the South East, concludes the study sponsor.

Chris Houghton, CEO of Retail for OVO Energy, said: “The Cycle to Work scheme is a popular employee benefit that OVO Energy offers, however, greater access to electric bikes through the scheme would open it up to many more of our employees. We would welcome action from government to make this change happen.

“Today’s survey shows there is clear demand for electric bikes and that opening up access to them through the Cycle to Work scheme would get more people cycling. This would improve workplace health and wellbeing, reduce emissions, and improve air quality; all subjects we’re incredibly passionate about. Electric bikes, as we’ve seen with electric vehicles, will help power sustainable transport of the future. We’re at the start of the electric bike and electric vehicle revolution, transforming our energy system by decarbonising transport.”