In this blog, we hear from Mark after he connected with E-Move, a Welsh Government-funded project that offers people across Wales the opportunity to access e-cycles and e-cargo cycles for free. Mark was keen to learn more about the project and see how changing his travel behaviours would affect him. Despite not being the most confident or active cyclist, he committed to swapping the car for an e-cycle and here he shares his experience.
Using an e-bike helped to restore Mark's confidence on riding a bike, and he hasn't looked back. Credit: Mark Williams.
I got interested in the project as I was intrigued about electric bikes and the benefits of using them.
I was also catching a bus everyday, which was regimental on times, and had to leave early from work or wait around for long periods.
That lead me to think that cycling would give me more freedom in my movement and, from the first day of getting the bike, I felt the benefits of being able to leave work when I chose and not having to monitor my time or risk missing the bus.
Empowering the ability to change behaviour
Although I hadn’t cycled in a number of years, I found the electric bike easy to use and didn’t have any issues cycling up quite steep hills.
I also quickly realised the benefits for others from the project that perhaps wanted to improve their fitness, but were frightened by the thought of cycling – E-Move would definitely help build people’s confidence.
Over the following weeks I cycled to and from work every day – over 5 miles each way! – keeping to the backroads where I could.
The mornings were best, as it gave me a connection to nature I didn’t otherwise have – I could listen to the birds and see the wildlife getting their breakfast, rather than sitting in a bubble with just the noise of the engine and passing it all by.
I enjoyed the electric bike and the cycling experience so much that I decided to purchase a new bike using the Cycle to Work scheme.
Unfortunately, there was a restriction on the value offered, which meant I couldn’t get an electric bike.
Instead, I opted for a full road bike which I use daily now – I commute to work during the week and take it out for leisure rides on the weekends.
I don’t always have the best weather, but that doesn’t hinder my cycling.
Looking back on the experience, my fitness has improved so much in such a short period that I appreciate the road bike and having to work that little bit harder – and I’m still enjoying the outdoor experience.
A greater need for active travel infrastructure in rural Wales
I think the project could benefit from better advertising – I found out about E-Move by word of mouth – which would help it to reach more people.
As good as the bike was, I think it might’ve benefitted from having a mirror, particularly for when riding on roads.
It’s also worth considering where you’re going to end up with the e-bike, not everywhere has adequate parking facilities.
Where I live in Aberystwyth, there’s no secure bike storage and general bike parking areas are limited.
It would’ve been interesting to see some statistics at the end of the loan period, to see how much distance I covered, improvements in regular journey times, and to see improvements in fitness.
These might help others to feel encouraged to buy a bike and keep cycling beyond the loan period.
An ideal way to introduce and enjoy active travel
The benefits of E-Move, in my opinion, are that it helps people that are interested in improving their fitness but are unsure whether an electric bike would be the right option for them.
The e-bikes are really accessible with good facilities – you’re given all the tools that you need to get started: a charger, a lock, a helmet, panniers, lights, mudguards etc.
It’s a great introduction to cycling, particularly e-bikes, for those who might not be the most confident or active cyclists.
I found it was a great way for improving my fitness without it being gruelling – it also gave me freedom of movement which improved my wellbeing, my physical health, and my mental health.
Overall, I think this is a fantastic project that should be rolled out in more locations and made more accessible to more individuals.
About the E-Move project
E-Move is a Welsh Government-funded pilot project that is delivered in partnership with Sustrans, that enables people to borrow electric cycles.
There are 20 e-cycles available through the scheme for people, businesses and organisations in Aberystwyth and the surrounding area to use.
The E-Move project also runs in other cities and towns across Wales, including Barry, Newtown, Rhyl, and Swansea.
To find out more information about E-Move in Aberystwyth, or in Wales generally, contact email@example.com.