Is the bike fit for a 50km commute?

Over what distances is it realistic to expect people to commute by bicycle? And what if that bicycle offers electrically assisted pedalling? These are the questions being researched by Bram Rotthier, an academic at a university in the Belgian city of Leuven. Rotthier has commissioned 15 cyclists to test commuting distances, one of whom is a Green politician who is cycling around 100km per day on a ‘speed pedelec’, an electric bicycle capable of up to 45 km/h.

Björn Rzoska, a Green member of the Flemish parliament, lives around 50km from the parliament building. He rides a pedelec made by the Swiss company Stromer. A pedelec is the name given to an electrically-boosted bicycle, and its ability to reach speeds of 45 km/h means it is categorised as a moped under Belgian law, requiring the rider to wear a moped helmet.

But energy use, emissions and noise are lower than those of mopeds and motorcycles, hence the potential for pedelecs to be used in reducing the environmental impact of commuting. This is part of Rotthier’s research, along with a look at safety issues, its effect on health, and other aspects of pedelec use.

A short video (in Flemish) on the start of the experiment is available at