The electric bicycle is doing quite well in Toulouse. Especially for a form of sustainable transportation that appeared not so long ago. The proof: an additional branch of “La Bicyclette Electrique,” a business specializing in electric bicycles, is set to open its doors in the heart of Toulouse’s downtown in March 2014, taking the place of a former perfume shop that has been closed for five years. While “La Bicyclette Electrique” already has a presence in Paris, this is the first opening in Toulouse, and further expansion in the southwest of France is under development.
The manager, Stéphane Bonne, who is also an engineer specializing in sustainable development, made the decision to change career paths to work with this new form of transportation. “This space of 100m2 will be a boutique-showroom selling electric bicycles and foldable bicycles. There will also be a bicycle repair workshop servicing individuals, groups, and businesses.” He explains “This store is aimed at everybody. I want to inspire all residents of Toulouse to get around by electric bicycles. This means of transportation ought to become a real alternative to the automobile. For that reason, it is necessary to widen services and availability.” Even if the majority of retailers have sensed the business opportunities to be made from bicycles and cycling goods, the specific offering of electric bicycles seems to be missing. It is time to rectify this situation.
Electric Bicycles: A Real Potential
This is great news for Philippe Goirand, who is in charge of the city’s bicycle policies. “It’s true that the electric bicycle has become more and more popular in Toulouse. It is a promising market. The push in the right direction made by the Toulouse Metropole in 2012 has proved fruitful.” In September, 2012, the city effectively promoted the electric bicycle through offering to pay for 25% of each bike purchase, up to €250. The result: “The initial budget of €250,000 worked so well that it was necessary to add another €100,000 of funding.” To date, nearly 1,000 bicycles have been paid for. “And the plan is to continue because the demand is there. In the streets we are seeing that the electric bicycle is gaining momentum,” continues Philippe Goirand.
It is true that this means of sustainable transportation carries several advantages, including being a less tiring form of travel that does not require you to take a shower when arriving to work. It is a means of transportation that is accessible to everyone, not only to the athletic. An electric bicycle is a desirable purchase for everyone, from active individuals to senior citizens, but it comes at a price. “Offers start at €500 and can go up to €3,000 for a very fancy bike. You could say that the right balance between quality and price occurs between €1,000 and €1,500.” Fortunately, this item is being made more and more in France by various brands, some of which are quite unique.
Aside from direct funding for purchases, what other incentives can local governments provide to promote bicycle usage?
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Original article, originally published in French, here.