Last month, the Government announced refreshed guidance for its Cycle to Work scheme, with the aim to help more commuters turn to greener journeys using e-bikes. The refreshed guidance makes it easier for employers to provide bicycles and equipment including e-bikes worth over £1,000, by making it clear that FCA authorised third party providers are able to run the scheme on their behalf. Mark Brown, director of B2B at Evans Cycles, tells BikeBiz how it will impact the industry.
“Put simply, the refreshed guidance will create more new, and returning, cyclists and play an important part in boosting regular cycling participation,” Brown says. “It will remove cost as one of the key barriers to ownership of a quality electric bike and the associated clothing and accessories.
“Importantly, the refreshed guidance gives more of an imperative to employers to do more to promote cycling as a key part of their health and wellbeing activities. There are numerous studies which demonstrate that getting more people cycling is good for physical and mental health, as well as air quality and congestion.
“The Cycle to Work scheme achieves this by offering both a tax incentive and the opportunity to spread the cost interest-free through salary. For people looking to make a significant lifestyle change, such as reducing car usage, it’s a really important ‘nudge’ in the right direction.”
In terms of the impact it has had on retailers, Brown says: “It’s still very early days but initial signs are very encouraging. Employers welcome the update because it gives them something extra to offer to their workforce in terms of a positive message which supports benefits and engagement.”
As well as the environmental and health benefits of e-bikes, Brown says they will also offer a number of benefits to the industry, primarily being the ability to appeal to new customer segments which are not traditionally dealt with. He continues: “Currently, specialist cycle retailers focus primarily on cycling enthusiasts which is a small proportion of the total population.
“Electric bikes give us an opportunity to engage with a much broader potential customer segment, primarily being those people who don’t view themselves as ‘cyclists’ but might be open to using an e-bike for commuting or leisure purposes.
“This group are increasingly aware of their personal health and wellbeing as well as their impact on the environment and will be seeking solutions to support positive change in this area of their lives. Electric bikes will be part of this solution for more and more people.”
E-bikes are, after all, becoming part of a broader trend towards personal mobility solutions, for short and long journeys, Brown concludes. “The industry will adapt to new customer types and providing new products and services to meet changing needs.”