Ever since Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France in 2012 we have been a nation of cyclists.
But for many the idea of cycling to work seems a little too much like hard work, turning up at the office with a change of clothes, and feeling like you need another shower when you get there.
But what if the bicycle you were riding was an electric bike, connected to a heart-rate monitor so the motor and battery could take the strain as required?
What if that bike could be easily stored and charged in your car – with an app that highlighted the best combination of driving, cycling and public transport to get you to your destination?
And what if handlebar vibrations let you know when to turn, with turn signals triggered automatically?
This is exactly what we will be investigating with prototype electric bikes as part of an experiment called Handle on Mobility.
Handle of Mobility is exploring the integration of the so-called e-bikes, alongside travel by car, train and public transport – for journeys that are more efficient, safer and healthier.
Announced this week at global tech fair, Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, Handle on Mobility is the latest experiment announced following the launch of Ford’s Smart Mobility plan.
Ford’s Smart Mobility Plan is our way of helping to change the way the world moves through innovations in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data.
And each of the global experiments, – including London-based pilot projects for car-sharing, parking, insurance, and a shuttle service – is researching, testing and implementing solutions.
We have developed two different e-bikes – one for commuters, and one for commercial use – each of which provides electric pedal assist for speeds of up to 15 mph, and includes a rider alert system that both warns the cyclist when a vehicle is overtaking and alerts motorists by illuminating handlebar lights.
“There are so many ways to get around a city, but what is really needed is a way to connect all of these transport options together,” said Ken Washington, vice president, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “Being able to seamlessly move between cars, buses, trains and e-bikes and react to changing traffic situations can make a big difference both for commuters and for those delivering goods, services and healthcare.”