In India, more than 25% of people commute to work by bicycle or two-wheeler as it is an affordable and reliable form of transport for people in both urban and rural areas. Moreover, almost a third of all households own one. It is widely believed that nearly 75 million two-wheelers are circulating on Indian roads, including those in Tier I, II and III cities. Moreover, India adds 17 to 18 million two-wheelers to the roads every year.
But the fact is that two-wheelers pollute a lot! It may come as a surprise to many, but two-wheelers emit almost the same CO2 emissions as a car. Therefore, putting the majority of the burden of reducing emissions on the shoulders of these riders. In this context, the switch to electric vehicles is inevitable.
While the government has come up with subsidy programs for electric vehicles, it is FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicle) that has facilitated the adoption of electric scooters on Indian roads. However, the adoption rate is still low, mainly due to the high initial cost and the lack of charging infrastructure.
This is where e-bikes come in! With their ease of use and maintenance, low initial cost, high energy efficiency and portable design, e-bikes were quickly seen as the most viable option for intra-urban mobility. Delivery staff, for example, have seen an effective increase in deliveries when using e-bikes as opposed to the traditional scooter and motorbike. Electric bicycles have become a very ecological alternative for the large population using two-wheelers.
Therefore, unlike electric two-wheelers, e-bikes are the right means of transport that the government must promote, as they not only help to go green, but also help people to be more active in their lifestyle, thus reducing dependence on health systems. .
Also with the Covid-19 and its multiple waves, consumers have realized the immense value of health and have chosen to adopt safer and more reliable means of transport. So, from an e-mobility perspective, the Indian government needs to make the necessary changes to create optimism in this industry and help the industry and consumers to multiply.
The e-bike industry is well deserving of its application for inclusion in the FAME II grant scheme. The government should consider incentivizing consumers. This will give a great boost to the electric bicycle industry, which today represents an annual volume of around 40,000 units. With the right push, that can go to over a million units a year in the years to come.
The government should also consider programs to create and regulate more dedicated cycle lanes. There are very few dedicated lanes today, and they too are mostly occupied by conventional 2-wheelers. Dedicated lanes should be regulated with penalties etc. for offenders.
Additionally, the government should provide tax benefits to consumers who choose e-bikes taking into account their physical fitness and the benefits of going green.
To conclude, knowing where the country stands with its levels of two-wheeler pollution in Indian cities, he must take a stand to make the tough calls for a cleaner and greener urban future across the country. And, the time has come!