On 12 February Andres Moreno, editor of the Spanish green transport site VehiculosVerdes.com and part-time employee of electric vehicle promotor ExtraEnergy, met senior decision makers in the Spanish city of Granada to get their approval for staging GoPedelec! events in the city. Afterwards Moreno wrote this report on his trip.
Ms. Miriam Prieto, delegate for the environment in the provincial government of the city Granada in Spain, received us and listened with great attention to our proposal for GoPedelec! events in the city. Granada is a beautiful and vibrant city, with a growing population and a need to extend and modernize its infrastructure.
Since the 80's, when I studied Technical Architecture in Granada, traffic has grown in direct proportion to the increase of the population - both in the city and in the adjacent villages. And although a major highway circles the city, removing the need for travelers to go in the city at certain times of the day, the dense traffic still flows at a snail's pace. The influx of large numbers of tourist buses packed with visitors wanting to see the magnificent Alhambra Palace adds to the traffic problem.
The City Council managed to cut down marginally on the bus traffic by making reservations for visiting the Alhambra compulsory. Some roads, such as the Gran Via, were changed into single direction roads with priority access to public transport and I watched with great interest the construction of a tram line that will cut across the city and join several surrounding towns. Many people commuting into the city with their cars and living within a radius of 10 km will benefit from this infrastructure.
But, there is an interesting alternative: the distances in and around the city might be too big for a conventional bicycle, but they would pose no problem to electric bikes, which would easily manage the longest trip in about 20 - 25 minutes and bring the added benefit of not having to find a parking space at the end of the trip.
Once in the city, most people move on foot or by public transport. I moved around with a folding electric bike from the company Flyer, and it delighted everyone who tried it. As I stopped to take some pictures of Granada passers-by asked me about the strange box placed on top of the bracket (ie. the battery).
When I asked passers-by whether they would consider using an electric bike to get around town, everyone replied with a resounding yes. I'm looking forward to hear what the decision makers of the Diputación de Granada think about my proposal for GoPedelec! events in their city. The GoPedelec! project is co-financed by the EU. My aim with the event in Granada is to prove that electric bicycles can contribute immensely towards the alleviation of Granada's inner-city traffic problem and that electric vehicles have a good chance of being accepted by citizens living in neighboring cities and towns in big numbers.
The GoPedelec! event is planned to run over 3 days, when citizens will be given the chance to test-ride pedal-assisted electric bicycles (pedelecs) and a few brands of e-cycles. The reaction of citizens to the e-vehicles will co-determine the future of the project. But, more importantly, it'll show local decision makers whether they should take a harder look at this mode of transport and its proven traffic-alleviating and pollution-cutting properties.
If sales of these vehicles elsewhere in Europe are anything to go by, then the response to the GoPedelec! event in Granada is easy to forecast. Over half a million units were sold in Germany, Holland and Denmark last year - confirmation that acceptance of these vehicles is high and that their widespread acceptance is only prevented by their relatively high prices.
Granada embraces the traveler. It is full of interesting nooks in which to loose oneself in philosophical thought, very cosmopolitan and the people are always friendly and respectful. Just go there - I cannot do it justice by writing about it. It is like trying to explain the feeling of cycling on an electric bike: it doesn't really work. Far better is to do a few laps on a GoPedelec! test circuit. You have to come to Granada to breathe and feel the city. And I'm confident the inhabitants will be attracted by the benefits of electric biking.
I would like to thank Extraenergy.org, Ecomimesis, GoPedelec.eu and Populo.es for supporting this project.