The pandemic continues to offer us a window of time to create more sustainable habits. Using our slow down period can allow us to switch to clean energy providers or reduce plastic consumption. These new habits can make a big impact. In our current series, the Sustainable Slow Down, we explore how we can use this period to create more sustainable habits. Today we are discussing a big switch: car travel.
Australia’s transport sector accounts for 16% of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions which makes it the third largest contributor and has the highest growth rate. (Climate Council). If we want to reduce our footprint, we really need to look for viable alternatives.
Two thirds of our car trips in Australia are less than 10km. Majority of our emissions come from acceleration. So, taking short car trips can have a massive negative impact on the environment.
Hybrids cars are becoming a more common option, but there is an even more sustainable option available. It may just be one of the best kept secrets in Australia!
The eBike Revolution
I was fortunate enough to chat with Dan Carr, Co-Founder of Australia’s first electric bike subscription service, Lug & Carrie. They offer consumers the opportunity to use a top of the range eBike for less than the cost of a Myki pass per week. The eBikes are ergonomic, top quality, with regular servicing. They also have the ability to carry kids, adults, a week of groceries and even a trailer!
‘It all started with an 8 hour car trip with my brother Ben. He worked in transport in Germany and understood the consumer market and behaviour trends. My background is in Finance, leading the Equipment Finance division at a bank. We discussed how to tackle some of the biggest global challenges including climate change. Globally eBike’s are the most mature and useful product category in the Light Electric Vehicle (LEV) space and growing very quickly. However, in Australia it is an underdeveloped market.’ From there, they conducted customer and product research. This helped them understand the challenges and opportunities for the Australian market.
‘I wasn’t sure if my next step was to start my own business but I knew I wanted to contribute to solving one of the big challenges of our age. We looked into global trends including the ageing population, cyber security, climate change and global population growth. We then looked at the disruption opportunities in existing markets.’
eBikes as a Viable Alternative to Cars
After settling on the eBike market, there were a few cultural and behavioural barriers to address.
‘In Australia, we mostly think of cycling as a recreational activity rather than a legitimate alternative to owning a car.
We focussed our business on high quality eBikes that can do a lot of the jobs of daily life. They need to be able to carry a load and cover long distances. Hilly terrain is also not an issue. So it really has the opportunity to transform local travel for single people as well as families.
Ultimately, we are targeting Toyota and Subaru. Instead of having one or two cars, we want to provide the option for individuals and families to get around their local neighbourhood in a cheaper, more efficient and sustainable way.’
Launching Lug & Carrie
Since launching in late January 2020, they have established themselves as a viable alternative for family focused local transport across Melbourne. ‘67% of our customers are female with 88% of our eBikes are carrying children. We want the travel experience to have a fun, family focus. It is a great way for families to connect whilst getting around town.’ Dan shared.
Dan and Ben spent time understanding the pain points and challenges associated with switching from cars to eBikes. The opportunities for the eBike market is so much broader than the oBike ‘ride and dump’ model where people leave the bike when they are finished. The Lug & Carrie subscription offers complete access to the bike so you can ride it like you own it but with the benefits of easily swapping models of returning the bike if you no longer need it.
4 Reasons to Make the Sustainable Switch Today
There are a number of reasons to see the Lug & Carrie eBike as a viable, efficient, sustainable alternative to car travel.
Good quality eBikes like the ones Lug and Carrie offer are between $5000-$8000. To take away that cost barrier, they created a subscription model. ‘This is a really popular pricing method in Europe and is one that allows people to retain sole access to their eBike without having to own it outright.’ Dan explained.
Lug and Carrie’s eBikes cost from $44 per week and this comes with regular servicing, insurance and roadside assistance. There is also the option to buy outright with a guaranteed price over time so people can buy it if they would rather own the eBike.
It is cheaper than a weekly Myki pass and with the majority of our car trips being local, it is a viable option for people who want a reliable, sustainable alternative to a car.
‘Often people think of the reasons why they don’t ride. Maybe they got a flat tire one time or the terrain made it difficult to get around. Our eBikes can carry children, shopping and even a trailer up hills. If you don’t feel like pedalling as much today, just switch on the turbo mode and you’re home in no time. We have customers in hilly areas including Eltham and Reservoir and there are absolutely no issues.’
All subscriptions come with insurance against theft and damage with German locks, and alarm. Importantly, it also comes with Rider Rescue by the Bicycle Network. It is roadside assistance for bicycles so if you have a flat tyre, break down or just feel exhausted, Rider Rescue from Bicycle Network will pick you up and get you home.
For daily commutes that cause heavy congestion including the school drop off, eBikes provide an efficient alternative. With cycling infrastructure continuing to grow in local areas, it creates an often faster route. The pedal assistance can reach up to a maximum of 25km/h which is a policy for all eBikes in Australia. However you can pedal as fast as you like without the assistance.
I just did a Google Maps ‘home to work route test’ and found that cycling was actually a faster alternative to driving. Especially in congested suburbs like Berwick, using established cycling paths will be a far more efficient option when I need to start going back into my office down the road.
4. Sustainable and Circular
Social enterprise Good Cycles regularly services the eBikes. This ensures reliability but also longevity of the product. Further, by offering consumers the subscription option, eBikes are less likely to end up under utilised in someone’s garage. If people no longer want the eBike they return it and it moves on to the next person.
It goes without saying that eBikes are a sustainable option because they reduce emissions. Anything that reduces carbon emissions is a win!
Cycling is the new norm
Recently the City of Melbourne announced that car parks are converting to footpaths. 12 kilometres of pop-up cycling lanes will assist with social distancing with the pandemic.
According to the Age, ‘the move by Melbourne City Council follows the lead of cities such as Berlin and Milan. They are redrawing road markings to create more room for cyclists and pedestrians during the coronavirus pandemic.’ If these cycling lanes are heavily used it will continue to build the case for stronger investment into cycling infrastructure. Between November 2019 and April 2020, some cycling paths saw increases of usage by over 700%.
It shows that our cycling culture is evolving beyond recreational activities. This presents amazing future opportunities to lower our collective car emissions.
Lug & Carrie’s innovative business is creating new opportunities for us to reassess our transport habits. This allows us to start to incorporate more sustainable lifestyle options. The affordable price, high quality eBike, regular servicing, insurance and roadside assistance create a complete and persuasive package to make the sustainable switch. There is the perfect time for us to take the leap and switch to a sustainable, efficient alternative. It is good for ourselves, our hip pocket and the planet!
So what are you waiting for? Check out their bikes here and book in for a trial today!