MONTREAL, May 25 2022 - There is an undeniable growth in the popularity of electrically assisted bicycles (EABs) throughout Quebec. For Équiterre, it’s a great opportunity to encourage people to change their transportation habits and thus help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector, which currently represents 45% of the province's emissions.
Équiterre’s Vélovolt campaign, launched in 2021, seeks to demonstrate the potential of electric bikes as an alternative to cars, especially for the commute between home and work. Since April, Équiterre has been coordinating trials of EABs with a number of different companies and organizations all across Quebec. The first phase of these trials will end in July, and other organizations will have the chance to participate in subsequent months.
"There’s a real enthusiasm among the public right now for this type of transportation. We’ve had so many requests to participate in the Vélovolt campaign," explains Agnès Rakoto, Project Manager for Vélovolt at Équiterre.
Since the project was launched, 43 new organizations have applied, hoping to be able to provide their staff members with the opportunity to swap their car for an electric bike for their commute to work. Currently, Équiterre’s Vélovolt campaign only has the capacity for 16 organizations in 2022.
"Équiterre takes a global perspective on mobility issues, seeking to ensure that easy and environmentally friendly mobility options are available to the public, which can respond to differing needs. The EAB is an interesting option because it makes cycling more accessible to more people. For example, those for whom the distance could be too far on a regular bike, those who have a heavy load to transport, or those who live in areas that are very hilly," adds Agnès Rakoto.
"There is a huge potential for the bicycle, both conventional and electric, to be an important mode of transportation, but it remains underrepresented in Quebec. 78% of commutes are still made by car," she adds.
A successful trial phase
Équiterre is pleased to see how successful these initial EAB trials have been in the 8 organizations participating in Vélovolt’s Phase 1. Since it was launched in April, 2,747 km have already been traveled by 42 employees.
Beginning in August, 8 new organizations will also be offering EAB trials to their employees:
Direction régionale du Ministère des Transports - Saguenay - Lac-Saint-Jean - Chibougamau (Saguenay)
Arrondissement Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (Montréal)
Écoles Montessori Magog-Orford (Estrie)
Collège Montmorency (Laval)
Chantier Davie Canada Inc. (Capitale-Nationale, Québec)
CISSS de l’Outaouais (Outaouais, Gatineau)
Société de transport de Trois-Rivières (Mauricie)
Cégep Édouard-Montpetit (Montérégie)
Additional public events, such as pop-up trials, are also being arranged in partnership with Hydro-Québec.
"It’s important to show companies and decision-makers that they have a real role to play in promoting more environmentally friendly daily mobility. They can encourage the use of bikes by providing incentives, such as safe bicycle parking," explains Agnès Rakoto.
Vélovolt will also be establishing a number of regional coordinating committees, bringing together various stakeholders in order to initiate a research project with the Mobility Chair of Polytechnique Montréal.
A keen interest among Quebecers
Beyond the Vélovolt campaign, more and more Quebecers are showing an interest in electric bikes. In 2020, their market share in Quebec reached 26%. Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the demand.
"2022 has so far been a year of ups and downs. The popularity of electric bikes is quite high, but supply remains a critical factor in meeting demand," notes Robert Guimond of Quantum eBikes, the official bike supplier for the Vélovolt trials.
Vélovolt is being carried out jointly by Équiterre and the Association des Centres de gestion des déplacements du Québec (ACGDQ). It is financed in part by the Government of Quebec as part of the Action-Climat Québec program and meets the objectives of the 2030 Plan for a Green Economy. The campaign is also supported by Hydro-Québec and other partners such as the Mobility Chair of Polytechnique Montréal, Quantum, and numerous Quebec cities and organizations.