Already well established in Flanders, the popularity of electric bicycles is now growing in Wallonia and Brussels. This is partly down to the variety of models available, a survey carried out by Vias – the institute for road safety – revealed.
Undoubtedly, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of electric bicycles as a way of avoiding public transport. The Vias survey, released on Wednesday, registers considerable increases in the use of electric bicycles over the last year: 40% in Wallonia and 47% in Brussels. For over three years in Flanders, one in three bike users have been riding electric models.
This isn't to overlook the residual popularity for the traditional bicycle – after all, Belgium has a reputation as the motherland of cycling. However, the disparity between regions is noteworthy; even more interesting is the variety of electric models in different regions.
In Flanders, the traditional electric bicycle makes up 80% of electric models but this drops to just 46% in Wallonia and Brussels. Yet sales of folding electric bicycles have grown in these two regions and now account for 21% of electric bicycles in Wallonia and 17% in Brussels. In Flanders, this figure is only 8%.
Walloons seem quite fond of electric mountain bikes (11% of users), whilst these types of e-bike are almost absent in Flanders (2%) and Brussels (4%) – hardly surprising when the topography of the different regions is considered.
Electric cargo bikes, such as those used by small businesses, account for 9% of e-bikes in Brussels but are rare outside the capital.
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But despite regional differences, Vias stressed that electric bicycles are primarily used for leisure (76% of the time). Only 30% of e-bike owners use them to commute, of which Brussels residents do so the most (36%).
With regard to accidents, one in six e-bike users have had accidents with other users. Accidents are more prevalent in Wallonia (33% of users) than Brussels (25%) or Flanders (10%).
Vias highlighted the importance of investing in infrastructure that makes cyclists feel safe - as Wallonia is doing here.
In 2020, Décathlon estimated that 5.5 million bicycles are in use in Belgium with electric bicycles making up 38.6% of new bicycles sold in Europe in the same year.
The Brussels Times