Taipei Cycle Forum Participants Identify Major Tasks for The Cycling Industry

By Susanne Brüsch 

Taipei Cycle Forum was held during Taipei Cycle Show in March 2019. Organizer TAITRA (Taiwan External Trade Development Council) had invited speakers from different parts of the world and participants from various business fields connected to light electric mobility to come to Taiwan and join the event. One of four sessions of the two-day conference was dedicated to the future of e-bikes while the other sessions focussed on bicycle design, cycling culture, and future city.

The 3-hour E-Bike Trend session was designed in a way that everybody in the room could learn from each other. To begin with, three speakers shared their insight about the latest trends in e-bikes: Manuel Marsilio, General Manager of the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI), Marian Baukrowitz, Director of Research for the German agency 4C Consumer Insight, and Susanne Brüsch, founder and head of Pedelec Adventures (myself). 

After an extensive Q/A session, conference designer and moderator Mike van der Vijver, managing partner of MindMeeting, encouraged the audience to form working groups and discuss the trends while making an attempt to project the current developments into the future: What will be the next stage if these trends continue and increase? And what are the implications of this for the (Taiwanese) cycling industry? Each group presented their conclusions and solutions for an overall rating and shared their opinion what the cycling industry should focus on in the next 5-10 years.

 

 

Main Tasks: Cycling Infrastructure, Standardization and Cross-Industry Cooperation

 

The participants worked out 15 tasks and rated them by importance. As top three tasks they identified:

1. Improved infrastructure - bike lanes, parking facilities and advanced anti-theft devices - for future urban mobility

2. Standardization of essential components of light electric vehicles, such as user interface, batteries, chargers etc.

3. Learning from other industries, such as the automotive industry, and manage a fruitful relationship

 

The tasks list also included:

• Taking Corporate Social Responsibility seriously

• Introducing mobility devices that are designed to interact with public transport

• Incorporating other innovative micro-mobility solutions to the urban mobility mix besides bicycles and e-bikes

• Clearly defining the e-bike identity

• Improving the user experience in the whole process of buying, using and servicing.

• Increasing product differentiation and offer suitable and safe mobility solutions for small families and elderly people

• Stay close to normal bicycles in the sense of maintaining the physical activity

 

Energy Storage & Consumption

 

Two major topics in the discussion were related to energy storage and the top speed of pedelecs.

While participants called for better integration of the battery into the overall vehicle design and favored higher differentiation in e-bike types and looks on the one hand, they required standardization of essential components, including the battery, on the other hand. Three tasks that seem difficult to combine.

Regarding the limitations that the state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery technology poses especially in respect to range and shipping (hazardous goods shipping required), the question arose if we need a new energy source. Interestingly, the question was put forward by the working group that involved experts from a large, well-known battery manufacturer …

The participants agreed that it is essential for pedelecs to keep the legal status of a bicycle. A proposal that has often been brought to the table, was also on the wish list at this conference: enhancing the 25 km/h speed limit to 32 km/h and, at the same time, reducing the top speed of s-pedelecs from 45 km/h to 32 km/h, thus creating one pedelec category. As appealing this seemed, there was enough awareness in the room, that trying to change the current regulations may result in loosing the legal status as a bicycle.