Electric Bikes coming to Brazil
Rather than having a throttle, the vehicle automatically provides peddling assistance when needed. It has a top speed of 25km/h and, unlike regular bike sharing schemes, helmets are required by law.
Yellow e-bike in São Paulo (source: Yellow)
The Bike Sampa e-bike sharing scheme, which is operated by Tembici and sponsored by Itaú bank, started its services on 18 March. It too is in the city of São Paulo, primarily the southwest region of the city in neighborhoods such as Pinheiros, Itaim Bibi, Vila Olímpia, Vila Leopoldina, Jardins, Paraíso and Vila Mariana.
However, of the 2,500 bikes in the system, just 20 of them are e-bikes right now as the company is going through a testing phase. The bikes, which have a range of up to 60km, were supplied by Canadian company PBSC Urban Solutions.
The idea is to have a two-color bike system in the future, one color for conventional bikes and the other for e-bikes much like what is seen in cities like Madrid and Lisbon.
Bike Sampa is eventually planning to have four packages which can be registered via its mobile app or on the company's website. They are paid per day (8 reais), three-day (15 reais), month (20 reais), and annual (160 reais). Through these packages, a bike can be used for one hour free of charge. A 5-real surcharge will be applied thereafter.
Bike Sampa station in São Paulo (source: Bike Sampa)
As the country already faces more than 40,000 traffic related deaths every year, one of the main issues of concern for legislators and ride share companies alike is safety. Many of Brazil's car and bicycle lanes are quite narrow and potholes and other irregularities are somewhat common along routes.
For one, the e-bike fleets being provided in the country currently follow the 25km/h maximum speed adopted by Japan and Europe in 2000. This is said to be suitable for braking safely and giving sufficient peripheral vision.
- maximum power output of 350 watts
- maximum speed of 25km/h
- motor only kicks in when rider is peddling
- no independent throttle control
- helmet is required
- bike has a speedometer, horn, and rear-view mirrors on both sides
- bike has well maintained tyres
Regardless of the specifications adopted, it does look like the electric bike trend will hit Brazil. As to how hard it will hit the country, we have yet to see.