Health, cost and social benefits pushed in Cork e-bike campaign

Sales of e-bikes and bicycles have risen this year particularly during pandemic lockdown

Cork may well be a city of hills, but a new campaign aimed at promoting the use of e-bikes is hoping "to flatten the curve" for many would-be Leeside cyclists.

It comes as Cork City Council announced plans for two new cycle lanes. The We-Bike campaign, launched by Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Joe Kavanagh and Mayor of Co Cork Cllr Mary Linehan-Foley, is aimed at promoting electric bikes as an everyday commuting option in Cork city and county.

The two new cycle lanes are planned around University College Cork and Cork Institute of Technology to encourage students and staff at both institutions to get on their bikes.

The new cycle lanes will run along Donovan's Road and College Road, with a link between Magazine Road to Glasheen Road, all near UCC, while a second route will go along Melbourn Road and Rossa Avenue, near CIT.


Healthier and cheaper

On the e-bikes campaign, Cllr Kavanagh said: “By extending the range and ‘flattening the hills’, e-bikes enable people to cycle over longer distances and hilly areas, and offer a healthier and cheaper way to travel than your car.

“Areas such as work and school commutes, leisure trips, reintroduction to cycling for retirees, health benefits and more are just some of the social advantages that the project hopes to impart to Cork’s public.”

Cllr Linehan-Foley pointed out that sales of e-bikes and bicycles have risen in Ireland since March, particularly during the pandemic lockdown, which saw many people return to cycling in preference to cars for local journeys.

"Cork's future is being built on sustainability and climate action, so it's great to see Cork City Council and Cork County Council working together on this innovative initiative to promote e-bikes and cycling," she said.

Bike to Work

She pointed out the e-bike initiative follows changes to the Bike to Work scheme, where employees can save up to 52 per cent on the cost of a bike when their employer buys the bike for them and they repay the cost from their salary.

The employee benefits in that the repayments come out of their salary before tax, USC and PRSI are deducted, meaning someone on the highest rate of tax will save almost half of the cost of the bike.

Sandy McGroarty, co-ordinator of the Transport and Mobility Forum and wE-bike Cork, one of the partners in the campaign, said the Leeside initiative to promote e-bikes was the first of its kind in the country.

Pat Murray of City View Wheels in Cork, which has provided e-bikes for trial purposes for the campaign, said e-bike battery technology has improved in recent times, with most quality e-bikes now using lithium-ion batteries.

“In most bikes the battery can be unlocked and removed for charging, but some do not. If you do not have access to a power point where you store your bike, it is important to choose a model with a removable battery.”

Cllr Kavanagh noted that in another incentive for the public to move towards e-bikes, 27 Credit Unions in Cork are providing member-owned financial services to help cover the cost of purchasing an e-bike.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times