Brisbane’s humid climate and hilly landscape have until now discouraged the amount of people swapping their car for a more cost-efficient electric bike.

However a change in the e-bike market could make roads safer for not only cyclists, but potentially all road users.

Written by Maudy Veltema

Produced for online by Natalie O’Brien

E-bikes are equipped with a powerful 25-kilometer-an-hour motor, but still provide peddle exercise comparable to a brisk walk.

Owner of Electric Bikes Brisbane Nick Willis says people are looking for alternative transport modes as Brisbane’s roads get increasingly busy.

“E-bikes with the assist, really overcome some of the barriers to cycling. Particularly around Brisbane, Brisbane’s fairly hilly, and having an electrical assist really helps to flatten out the hills,” he says.

Mr Willis says he has seen a change in the type of people buying an e-bike, saying it has moved away from the old people stigma.

“We have a lot of people who just have no interest in owning a car and they’ll buy an e-bike,” he says.

E-bikes’ real selling point are their cost efficiency compared to other transport methods.

“Once you’ve bought it, then to charge up is probably around about the 10 cents mark, so not much in terms of power, much less than say an electric car,” Mr Willis says.

Thanks to the increased number of people embracing e-bikes, Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety researcher Dr Ronald Schroeter, says they are now looking at ways augmented reality can improve safety for cyclists.

“In recent years you may have heard cars are becoming connected, they are starting to talk to each other and to the infrastructure, and that allows safety applications such as collision warning systems, and we’re just asking the question why can’t we have the same safety system for bikes, e-bikes,” he says.

The technology will provide digital assistance at dangerous traffic points such as sharp corners, where people will be provided with information from cyclists traveling in the opposite direction.

“With augmented reality you could potentially see through the corner and make the other cyclist visible to you, so the digital image of the other rider would be overlayed so it actually appeared as though you had x-ray vision,” Dr Schroeter says.

The developments are still in early stages, but are eventually supposed to enable all road users to communicate with each other.

“Anyone that has a connected device, a mobile phone, could potentially be a part of the network that talks to each other,” he says.

Another exciting development in Brisbane’s cycling sector is the changed manner in which CityCycles can be hired.

Brisbane City Council will implement a tap and go system across all one-hundred-and-fifty bicycle stations in the hope to attract more people.

Introduced in 2003, the cycles were announced to be a cost neutral system, but according to RACQ spokesperson Lauren Ritchie, this didn’t work out.

“Unfortunately the hire system that was in place where you had to sign up online and then use a go card, or use a credit card, was a clunky process and it did unfortunately dissuade a lot of people from using the facility,” she says.

The new system will make it quicker to sign up on the spot with a debit or credit card and allows users to tap on as they go.