Pedale, Power, Pandemie. Der E-Bike-Boom und seine Folgen | Doku

There has never been so much pedal power
on the streets as it is today. It doesn't matter
whether it's a trekking bike or a mountain bike. Power connection
is required in every segment. It's comfortable to
drive to work without being sweaty. The corona pandemic seems
to be acting like a catalyst on sales figures and prices. After 3 weeks of
lockdown a run really started that burned the place. And that has consequences. What we can say is that the number of fatal
injuries on pedelecs is increasing by over 30% every year. Also because more and more cyclists have to share space with pedestrians
and cars. We need a new division
of the traffic area. 16% uphill,
their daily commute. And Birgitta, Manja and Nadine
don't even break a sweat. The ladies on the e-bikes are 3 of the 120 employees of
the Diakonie in Marienberg. At the start of work you have already completed
the 1st fitness session.

It's a nice feeling. You are happy that you
can just do it without being able to do anything for 10 minutes
. You don't need to
think about where to go. You drive towards it
and when there is an incline , you don't worry. That
would have been impossible with the old bike. Between 10 and 20 kilometers they pedal
through the Ore Mountains in wind and weather. From the villages around here to your outpatient care station
in Großolbersdorf. What
seemed unimaginable a year ago is
now everyday life for women. Almost child's play with fully charged batteries, 600 watt motor and
in turbo mode. Here in the Ore Mountains, of
course, only an advantage. Because here you have to think about
every route. How far can I go,
the next mountain is just around the corner, and that's totally relaxed now
, you have to put it that way.

You can do big tours with it.
That’s fine. You recharge your batteries
and are fit for work, for patients, for the collective. Nothing better
can happen to you. What is quite relaxed in the Ore Mountains
because there are e-bikes has been a trend in the plains and in the
big cities for a long time. The corona pandemic has
once again significantly intensified the electrical boom here.

The number
of bikes sold without a battery has stabilized
at around 3 million since 2018. The number of e-bikes
, on the other hand, is increasing rapidly. A million were added in 2018. In 2019
, 1.4 million e-bikes were sold. And in 2020,
2 million e-bikes were added to the classic bikes. That is an increase of 43%. According to the industry association of
bicycle manufacturers in Germany, there has never been such a surge
as it is now in the midst of the pandemic. It's a great result. We are really happy
with these numbers. We have been saying for a long time that the bicycle has an incredible amount of
potential in urban mobility, but also in leisure time. We had known that for a long time. And we
said three or four years ago that the bicycle is a
totally crisis-proof means of transport. Back then, the word resilience was
n't on everyone's mind. Now with Corona it was a
totally resilient means of transport. That became evident in 2020.
Many other things came along.

People's concern about
public transport, pop-up bike paths. That meant that the
bike shops were bought empty and sold out,
great! The branch recorded an increase in turnover
of 60%. This brings even large manufacturers, such as Diamant
in Hartmannsdorf near Chemnitz, to the limits of their capacities. This is
an extreme bike boom in general. Not just in Germany,
also in Europe. And we have a lot to do.
We are completely sold out. All of the
bikes we see on the line today have already been
sold to a dealer. That means
nothing goes into our warehouse. We assume that in the last
year many bicycle shops sold more than were produced
or imported, so that many warehouses are empty.

We hear very often that
the effect that is otherwise always there has not been achieved over the winter. That you
could reproduce in peace and quiet and the dealers
could fill their stocks in peace. That didn't work this year
because people kept
selling. Therefore, when I go to a dealer today, it will definitely be the case
that
the right bike will not always be there immediately. There will be cases where the right bike
cannot be produced. Where, as a customer, I either have to compromise
on the components. Or I have to accept that I won't
get exactly what I need. Here in tranquil Lichtenau
near Chemnitz , too, someone has been living with compromises for months
who actually never wanted to allow any when it came to bicycles
. Andreas Ahner has been fulfilling
his dream here for almost 10 years. In its own shop with workshop , the bicycle specialist builds
high-quality bikes according to customer requirements. At least that was his idea. So sleepless nights
are already part of it at the moment. This cannot be avoided
because from time to time you are faced with problems that you haven't had before.

A situation like
this just hasn't happened before. We are in
demand as bicycle dealers and the big importers
are also in demand. It really is
a very difficult situation. This is also new territory for many. Of course you
don't want to lose a customer, you want to fulfill every wish. But at the moment the situation is
really partially hopeless. It only helps to have
a little patience. It was
meanwhile in a lot of media.

The press
reported which delivery problems, owed to Corona,
the bicycle industry is suffering from.
Basically it has been the case in the last few years that we were able to produce
every bike in 3-5 weeks from order to
delivery, even during the season. And at the moment, in the best case scenario, the customer is
gone with 8 weeks. In the worst case, it wo
n't be until next spring. Waiting instead of tinkering and screwing, that's how Andreas Ahner
never imagined his job. Now, instead of invoices, he writes
emails to customers every day, but also to his parts suppliers. This is of course a completely
new logistical challenge for us. At the moment we spend a lot
more time with our importers and suppliers, inquiring about parts
, ensuring , ordering, inquiring,
looking for alternatives. In general, it affects all components. It affects
the sprocket for 15 euros and also the sprocket for 250 euros. It's just all difficult to get hold of at the moment
.

It goes so far that Andreas Ahner's business idea is
turned upside down. Then an
offer comes before the customer's request. Even the model bikes, which have been here
for 1 or 2 years, are torn out of my hands. Sometimes
the color doesn't matter. People like to buy a color that is already
so close to the pain threshold . As an example, I had a
beautiful electric bike in the store.

It was here for almost a year. I saw the color
at the fair. It was pink with white letters.
I thought that was wonderful. Also gave
a very good picture here. But it just
sold badly. But a short while
ago a married couple came along and they both thought it was good
and said even if it was pink. We'll take that now before we have to
wait six months. The biggest hurdles are
the supply of individual parts.

There are certain things that
come from Europe , so the problems are fewer. There are other parts
, especially in the frame area, that come from the Far East, come
from Asia. The
problems were bigger last year. There are of course
large manufacturers of individual parts who have also scaled
back capacities. Order lead times of 12 or 18
months are actually to be expected at the moment, which we do not otherwise
know in the industry. Like other industries,
the bicycle industry works globally. Almost all manufacturers
get frames from Taiwan, for example. Japan
supplies brakes and gears. Batteries for e-bikes
come from South Korea and China. Suspension forks and seat posts
come from the USA. All of this has to be shipped to Europe for final assembly by plane or on cargo ships
. But there
is also an opportunity in the crisis. This is shown by a young company
from Magdeburg. Because here there are still bicycles,
including e-bikes, in times when there are
no longer any elsewhere. Hello, Axel from Urwahn-Bikes,
I wanted to get in touch and ask whether the collection or delivery
is possible for next week? Yes, then just give
me a brief input as to whether that fits.

The delivery
would take place all day. "Urwahn" is
what they call their little start-up. Sebastian Meinecke and his partner
Ramon Thomas are crazy about bikes and wanted nothing less
than to reinvent the bike. Because of course it is one of the
oldest means of transport. It's so simple
and yet so complex. You can progress anywhere,
discover new realms. Also with the background
that I am a sports engineer , I took the bicycle as a
construct and rethought it.

And since I've always been
so driven by technology , I looked to see
what new incentives were there. And yes, here we are now, fully spun off,
in the middle of series production. And that is
a sophisticated , high-tech process from the first to the last component. Here in Magdeburg you don't
wait for frames from the Far East. Millimeter by millimeter is
printed here, made of steel. Because that
is the highlight of the Urwahn-Bikes, a self-developed frame, individually manufactured
in a 3-D printer. In the meantime,
those interested have understood that we can really
respond to their wishes individually. And that is just apart from
this mass bicycle market, which there is,
which is definitely huge, the segment
on which we focus. That we can really manufacture
an individual bike, their favorite bike, for the customer.

And that goes far
beyond your favorite color. The bikes from Magdeburg
fit like a tailor-made suit, from the technical components
to the precisely printed frame. We have traditionally distanced ourselves from
the diamond building structure and opened the frame
to the rear. We have
created a closed network here, which also looks very organic,
as if it were made from one piece. It is more
reminiscent of modern carbon frames. Monocoque is the keyword here. But we rely on a well
-tried material, steel. Steel
is a very rewarding material.

Very durable
and above all very elastic. That is one of our highlights. We can use it to compensate for
the weight of the driver and also the reaction
forces, to cushion them elastically. This is not unimportant, because the
latest development from Magdeburg gets up to speed with ease. There
is an accumulator in the down tube. It creates a
range of 80-100 kilometers, depending on the type of drive,
and has a lot of steam in the boiler. The entry-level model with engine
is available from 4,500 euros, there
are no upper limits. There is no such thing as this one customer, but there is
a good direction towards target group. These are of course people
who can also afford it. They have a certain age,
35-60, to narrow that down. At the moment they
are mainly from Germany , although the interest is
also of a supraregional nature. We also sold the first
bikes to Europe or the USA, and sometimes sold
one to New Zealand. The major goal
of the young Magdeburg entrepreneurs, however, remains independence
from the global parts market with components from here,
sustainable and climate-friendly. The e-bike boom shows
that bike freaks cannot be slowed down by high prices.

pexels photo 6249461

Not only the Ore Mountains are
taken by storm with motor assistance. Almost every rental station
offers e-bikes to try out. And it is
no longer just day tourists who saddle up on e-bikes. In the meantime, it
has developed in such a way that sports-loving people
have also discovered the e-bike. We have a
very active winter sports club here, which of course
cater to the whole age spectrum or have
old members. And they also want to
do something in the summer months. And cycling is ideally suited as general athletic
training for winter sports
. Stefan Weinhold has been a
bicycle dealer in Marienberg for more than 30 years. And he would not be reluctant to see the entire
Erzgebirge cycle electric. The signs
have never been better than now, despite the explosion in prices for e-bikes.

We still know the time when we could make a customer really happy for 2,500 euros
. Unfortunately, the price of our industry is
developing in the same way as the construction industry and what
you hear everywhere else. That's why
it's nothing unusual if we now have
an e-bike made entirely of carbon
for 10,000 euros on the gallery on the right-hand side. An idealist can acquire that too. The fact that
more and more of these high-quality and price-intensive bikes are being
sold is due to a financing model
called the "job wheel". And for this, dealer Weinhold has already been able to inspire many employers
in the region. Also the head
of personnel at Marienberger Diakonie. I
love riding my bike myself and I was in his shop. And then he was in my office and
told me about the Job-Rad idea. You have to know
that the decisive impetus then naturally has to
come from the employer in the second instance.

Because the employer must
enable his employee to
use such a bike for 3 years by means of a leasing contract. We are always looking for what
we can do for our employees. I found it exciting and
we said we'd take part. So very easy. He invests a certain part of his wages
in a monthly leasing rate and uses this bike for this. And after 3 years he
can buy back the part himself or
offer it to his employer or to us as a specialist shop.

How he wants. Last year we got off to a
great start with the job bike. In the first month we won
10-15 new job cyclists. And yes, it continues. You have been a job cyclist from
the very beginning at Diakonie. And their great machines
were almost a bargain. Because your boss leases the bikes, there is
no VAT. And the leasing rate lowers
the wage tax for the cycling nurses. That makes up around a quarter
of the new price. If you get a bike like that, it also costs
a lot of money. Financing it like this
is not that easy. It's a great thing about the job wheel
that you don't notice it because it is deducted directly
from your salary. You can
then afford to do that.

And
the whole thing is still fun here, because there is enough space in the Ore Mountains
for many more e-bikers. Unlike in the cities,
very different. Traffic spaces are becoming scarce here. Often even dangerously close, because cyclists ride slalom
around pedestrians and cars. Konrad Krause from ADFC Sachsen
experiences the battle for space first hand
in his hometown Dresden. This intersection
is actually an example of the fact that everything is mixed here, the bicycle traffic,
the pedestrians, the waiting areas. We have
problematic traffic light circuits. It's not a nice situation, regardless of whether you
meander through the pedestrians here or whether you
let the cars push you to the edge on the street.

It doesn't work like that. And the more
people are out on their bikes, whether it's an e-bike
or a normal bike, the
worse the situation becomes. We need an infrastructure that can cope with this growth and grow again
. A few meters further
, Konrad Krause shows the next point of conflict
between cyclists and pedestrians. Here we have an exit
from the train station and a sidewalk that is open to bicycle
traffic. Only when I
walk this way here as a pedestrian do I not see it at all. Can't count on someone riding his bike from the
left.
I'm completely unprepared here, I don't know
who is this area assigned to. First of all, I am assuming that
this is a pedestrian area. And the cyclist, in turn,
has a sign that says, this is a cycle path. The conflict remains with the
weakest road users. Something like that does not invite you to cycle. Of course, that leads to falls,
if a group comes out of here and I as a cyclist
do not notice it, then I hit the
brakes here. It doesn't always end well.

Bad infrastructure
hits more and more cyclists. In
the Saxon state capital alone, 1,545 cyclists were
involved in accidents last year. That was about 10% more
than the year before. A trend that
applies to Germany as a whole, says the head of accident research at
the insurers, Siegfried Brockmann. His research shows that the
e-bike boom has a downside. Of course, we don't yet have the absolute figures for last
year in detail. But what we already know is
that every third person killed was now on
a bicycle on a pedelec. You can see that the pedelec is a major problem
in the event of an accident.
Older e-bike riders are particularly at risk. Accidents
often have dramatic consequences for them. 50.8% of the fatally
injured pedelec riders are over 75 years old. 9.3%
are between 70 and 74 years old. All other age groups account for 39.8%
of fatal accidents. So we have a lot of
different problems with the pedelec. One is
the usually higher speed. Especially
when older people are sitting on it, they would never drive on a straight route
at 25 km / h or more. You only have that on the pedelec.
Then you have the higher weight.

If there is an
unforeseen event , it is much more difficult to catch the Pedelec
than a normal bicycle. This in turn means
for all everyday situations that it
is much more difficult to react with a pedelec than with a normal bicycle. So, when overtaking, when meeting, a pedestrian
gets in your way. If I also have
a very old person on it, it means
that there will be collisions where it would not have happened with younger people on the bike
. Together with the traffic psychologist
Dr. Katja Schleinitz , Siegfried Brockmann examined the
accident occurrences with pedelec riders in more detail. At
the Technical University of Chemnitz , they analyzed the processes of
such accidents. For 4 weeks, e-bike
riders and conventional cyclists were monitored and compared with cameras and sensors on their
way.

With electric bike riders
, for example, we found that there are more accidents
at intersections. So that, for example, motorists
and other road users underestimate the speed of
electric bike riders. As a result, they turn
riskier, for example, so they choose
smaller gaps in which to turn. And the assumption is
that this results from the fact that electric cyclists
look significantly more relaxed while sitting on the bike than a conventional cyclist
at the same speed. But if a collision occurs
outside of the laboratory under real conditions
, the consequences for
motor-assisted cyclists are often more drastic. Precisely because they are usually faster on the road
than classic cyclists. With all single-track vehicles,
as is the case with motorcycles, it is the case that they first have
the "primary impact".

You hit a car
or another bike. But then there is a second
impact, namely on the road. And the road is,
if you will, the much tougher counterweight
at the point. And if you
don't have a helmet on , the consequences are
extremely drastic if you hit your head. This is usually a
very serious or fatal injury. The accident blackspot at the intersection. A current study by the Technical University of Munich confirms
the findings from Chemnitz. Here, too, researchers monitored and analyzed the behavior of cyclists with
cameras. At an intersection
where conflicts between drivers, pedestrians and cyclists are
already intensifying day by day. If more are added,
then we really have a problem that they can't get through. Then we have traffic jams
like in motorized traffic. We don't want that. We need more space so
that they can get through. Especially
when there are more e-pedelecs on the road that can go faster,
but also with cargo bikes that are a bit wider
and need more space. It is precisely these different
demands that are the problem.

Instead of quickly
painted pop-up bike paths , completely new approaches are needed for
the traffic management of the future. We are all still suffering in the cities from the traffic
planning of the 1960s and 1970s, which was extremely tailored to motor vehicles
. Of course
, we can't even change the entire infrastructure quickly,
we have to proceed gradually. That also requires
a plan in the community. Where do I have the main accident areas, where do I have traffic lights
that I can convert? And
then the money has to flow there and not just back into,
let's say, new pop-up cycle paths, which then only
make things easier. But
they inevitably come to an end at the intersection and create the problem there
that we had before. We have to think something "out of the box"
as they say in English. There are definitely bold solutions
where entire streets
are closed to motorized traffic. And that is then a bicycle street where the cyclists can ride next to each other
and arrive quickly.

Like in Copenhagen, for example. In the Danish capital
, cyclists tell you where to go. 20,000
pass this spot alone every morning, one of the main routes
from the suburbs to the city.
The cycle path network in one of the most cycle-friendly
cities in the world covers almost 400 kilometers. Bike paths are wide and always clearly separated
from the rest of the traffic. There is a green wave for cyclists. Copenhagen
has invested a lot of money, 12 million euros in this bridge alone
. Cyclists have the "snake"
all to themselves. In the 1980s
, Copenhagen pulled out all the stops and made bicycles a
top priority. Years ago , the head of the Copenhagen
Road Traffic Office was convinced that
any city could be redesigned according to this principle. You have to make decisions, for example moving or even giving up car parking spaces in
order to make room for bike paths.

But maybe that's more difficult in
Germany with its car culture than it is here.
ADFC man Konrad Krause sees it the same way. His association has been demanding
more and, above all,
the right investments, and not just since the e-bike boom. But not only Dresden is lagging behind in
terms of infrastructure expansion. Every year 15 to
20 kilometers of new cycle paths are built across Saxony. For safe cycling , however, it would have to be
at least 80 kilometers a year. The overall picture in Germany is
such that we have a similar risk potential in all of the cities
. We have
problems everywhere at the intersections and with bike paths that are too narrow. We have
the different speeds and different behaviors
of pedestrians and cyclists. It just doesn't fit together that way. Even
Central Germany's front runner in the ADFC ranking
is a problem child, Leipzig. In the bicycle climate index,
the city ended up in third place among the major German cities. Nevertheless, it is apparently
a dangerous place for cyclists.

Overall, we have
a road network in Leipzig, which is not
in good condition, neither for cyclists,
but also not for drivers. In this respect
, we really have to
make optimal use of the investment funds that are available so that we can get
as much as possible out of cycling too. In the current budget, Leipzig has budgeted 8.3 million euros for immediate
measures on the cycle path network. This sum should double in the next few years
, says the city planner. But money
is not his real problem. In the end it is about the reallocation of the
available street space. And that is a discussion
that has to be held. That always means if you
want to give more space to bicycle traffic, and we want to do that …

Incidentally, not only bicycle traffic, but
also pedestrian traffic. And then there is the local public transport , i.e. the mode of transport
of the environmental association. Then that means
that you
also have to withdraw areas on the other side. It's a negotiation process. Every city has
to organize and find it for itself. What I can already imagine is
that Corona has made a difference and has brought significantly more people
onto bicycles. Certainly also one
or the other politician. In connection with e-bikes,
which from my point of view are
really a door opener in the political business. And that Corona actually flipped the
switch on some decision-makers and could really
start cycling now. Copyright MDR 2021
Subtitle: Büschel.

You May Also Like