I’ll come to our current transport minister a little later on, but what do cars, vans, motorbikes and buses have in common? … They all cause congestion. Congestion and poor flow of traffic creates a big air pollution problem. Free flowing traffic can reduce air pollution by 20-30%. In oxford, consultants are proposing radical changes to improve just this with one way systems etc so its a known issue (see here)
I hear you cry out, “but electric vehicles don’t emit anything!” which you’d be right, but the change from the combustion engine wont be over night, that EV will still cause congestion even if it emits no pollution, it’ll still hold up the vehicles which do pollute still for decades to come, including HGV’s and Buses which will take a long time yet for the technology to catch up to be 0 emission/fully electric and cost millions in the process.
My solution to this? You know what reduces congestion, air pollution and be cost effective at the same time? its disruptive, revolutionary, a game changer… The bike.
Okay so im a little biased, i run oxfords number 1 cycle logistics service and operate 11 cargo bikes and e-bikes but its backed up with numerous studies on congestion, air pollution, health, well being, social inclusion, equality in mobility and i could go on.
Further more bridging the gap between bikes and cars are e-bikes. This is where our transport minster, Jesse Norman (conservative) comes in. He had an opportunity to include e-bikes and e-cargo-bikes in the low emission vehicle grants. E-bikes are still very expensive, not unlike there counter parts in the motor vehicle world but e-bikes empower another whole category of person to cycle, someone who may not be able to cycle normally on a push bike.
This is not a new idea either nor a radical one, France has already done this. (see here) They currently provide a £600 euro incentive to purchase an e-bike or e-cargo-bike and they have now included business use too. This kind of support to Pedal & Post would help us grow at a much faster rate but its not only the financial aspect, it would of been the first time we’d seen any government or public body support. It would of shown us that the government is actually thinking of companies like ours and really creating the change it wants to achieve (even if that change comes via a court order on air pollution).
We will still succeed without the support but if this government wants us to support them in kind as an SME, which they say are the backbone of this country, its got a lot more to prove and we will remember this decision as im sure the cities will too as congestion and air pollution specifically are still breaching legal limits.
We’re planning to follow up to this with an open letter to our local MP to see if we can ask him to reconsider his position and will post it up here soon