Robots. AI. Podcasts. 5G. All of these are the sort of subjects you would expect to find plugged in a long-running annual tech predictions report. Bicycles? Not so much. But in a major innovations publication issued on December 10, 200-year-old bicycling is highlighted as a technological solution to many modern urban ills.
“Growth in urban bicycle use can drive profound societal changes,” suggests Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions 2020 report. This will be achieved through “reductions in traffic and pollution, less-crowded public transit systems, and improvements in public health,” stressed the report, now in its 19th year.
The 136-page report from the global consultancy firm predicts that bicycle usage in cities will double by 2022.
“By 2050, 2.5 billion more people are expected to be living in cities than today,” stated the firm’s study, and more bicycle usage will be necessary because “moving all these people around may strain capacity on existing transport options.”
Urban bike share schemes will be essential for cities of the future, and bicycling of all stripes will be boosted by “an array of diverse technological innovations,” according to Deloitte’s crystal-ball gazers. They believe predictive analytics, smartphone apps, wireless connectivity, and digital urban planning tools will get more people on bikes.
The growth in demand for e-bikes will also accelerate, said the firm, citing a Forbes story on how there already now more e-bikes sold in The Netherlands than non-electric bikes.
Innovations—and freshly-built cycling infrastructure—will make bicycling safer, faster, and even more convenient.
“This makes it a more attractive option for first-mile, last-mile, and overall travel, furthering its rising popularity,” said the firm’s U.S. report.
A U.K. version of the report added that “increased participation in cycling over the coming years can only be good news,” especially as “more cycling means lower car usage and lower emissions.”
The U.K. version continued: “Our cities are currently heaving with traffic; mostly for journeys that are under five miles—under two miles in London—so for short, routine trips, cycling could tick all the boxes.”
Cycling is listed as the second most important innovation to keep tabs on. The roll-out of industrial 5G was first, and the continued rise of podcasting was third.
The fastest selling electric vehicle in the years ahead will be e-bikes, stated the Deloitte report: “Between 2020 and 2023, we expect over 130 million electric bikes to be sold worldwide, reaching 40 million units and £16 billion revenue in 2023.”
According to Deloitte this will “far outpace electric [motor] vehicles, which we expect to grow from 5.1 million in use globally in 2018, to around 12 million likely to be sold in 2025.”
The health benefits of cycling will become more influential over time, said the report: “Instead of prescribing pills, doctors could offer programs designed to change behavior, such as encouraging exercise. This is already happening: In the U.K., some doctors are referring patients to a 12-week cycling course with the aim of making them more confident about being on a bike—and, hopefully, to make cycling a habit.”
Cycling can “help us tackle the social and environmental challenges of global urbanisation,” concluded the report.