I would like to introduce you to #electricmary, an e-bike and the latest member of the Glasgow Technology Strategy Board (TSB) Future Cities Demonstrator (FCD) Programme Team.


Just in case you are wondering, not a single penny of public money has been used in the purchase of #electricmary – she is on loan and has a wheel of a time (sorry). She is handle-ing things nicely and offering a be-spoke contribution. When she isn’t chain-ed to the desk that is. OK, OK – this is all getting a bit tyre-ing!

A couple things made the birth of #electricmary a natural decision:

– The fast growing team relocated to Eastgate in the East End of Glasgow (HQ of Community Safety Glasgow)
– Part of the Demonstrator is dedicated to active travel: walking to the bus stop or cycling to work for example.

It is an opportunity to contribute to the literacy programme element of the demonstrator through a direct example of a possible and simple lifestyle change.

E-bike tour of Commonwealth Games venues with #electricmary

The East End of Glasgow is in the middle of a structural transformation in advance of the Commonwealth Games 2014. It is inspiring to catch a glimpse of Celtic Park (host to the Opening Ceremony) and the Emirates Arena (home to the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome). With a significant amount of journeys back to the City Centre – only 1.5 miles away – for meetings, an option appraisal was required.

Horses sweat, men perspire and women glow apparently but whatever terminology you want to use and however disgusting it sounds – I didn’t want to sweat going into work or to meetings. I just prefer to shower and have breakfast in the privacy of my own home rather than at work with colleagues. #electricmary came out top of the rankings on the qualitative criteria matrix of cost, time, pollution and sweatiness anyway but there has also been an unexpected factor that I didn’t originally take into consideration:

I have fallen in love.

She’s electric, and she’s awesome

I miss #electricmary on days I can’t use her. Like travelling to London for example #mighttakeawhile. A key theme of the TSB FCD Programme in Glasgow is active travel and #electricmary plays a part in achieving this objective – although as one intelligent commentator noted:

If you spend £24M and only get one commuter switched from their car to an electric bike then I think you will be open to criticism

Fair point.

Don’t worry – there is more going on. Check out open.glasgow.gov.uk and data.glasgow.gov.uk to see what we are prototyping. And follow [embedit snippet=”tweet-us”] for the journey if Twitter is your thing.

Is it lazy to use an e-bike?

Now some, and I emphasise some, people’s reaction to the whole electric bike thing has been interesting.

I have been called lazy on multiple occasions and am having to work hard on my surprised look and not-at-all-defensive retort. There are many words that you could use to describe me, and over the years many have been, but lazy? Nope.

I guess it relates to the idea that using an electric bike is cheating. It makes me laugh: My journey would involve less effort, expend less energy and take more time if I were to use public transport.

Learning from the experience

One of the discussion points raised during the TSB Feasibility Study for Glasgow related to education and improving knowledge for everyone. #electricmary is doing her part to educate folk that pedal-assist vehicles are cool, smart and have an exciting role to play in the future.

Most people fall in love with #electricmary when they meet her. And once they try her, well – that is it. She surprises most folk, physically not just literally, and usually within about the first 3 seconds – especially on pedal-assist level 4!

This is just the start of my love affair with #electricmary but all is going well so far. We plan to update regularly both on our journey together and on Mary’s journey with Glasgow more generally #activetravel.