Electric Accessibility for All? The E-Ride Project Explored

Amsterdam’s been taken over by small, black, and compact four-wheel drives. Is this the way we move through Amsterdam?

Published by Sarah on 21/03/2018

Imagine a city flowing with two-seater electric cars, zip-zapping through small streets and bicycle paths. Often when we’re asked to think about the future of electric cars, a good majority of us start to think of Tesla’s successes. But for those of us without the extra €60,000 to spend, searching for a more sustainable and affordable solution can be quite limited.

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Amsterdam Electric

Over the past years, the term ‘sustainable’ has become a buzzword of sorts in boardrooms, courtrooms, and even our living rooms. Maybe this is due to the looming threat of climate change, which seems to be getting bleaker by the day. Or the fact that consumers and citizens alike are demanding more information in every part of their lives: from the food we eat to the mode of transport we choose. 

Electric mobility is here, and it's nothing new. In fact, Amsterdam is one of the world's leading cities in the field. We don't only take strong action in promoting electric transportation, we're also moving forward in the ban of polluting vehicles, working towards becoming a zero emissions city by 2025. 

It should come to no surprise then, that Amsterdam is a hub for startups and organisations who electrify modes of transportation. In this packed city, a majority of our urban journey’s are short, and plenty of city enthusiasts have been looking for a cleaner alternative to get from Point A to B. This is what we've spotted so far:

- Electric Two-wheelers: UnuVanMoof

- Electric Four-wheelers: Taxi Electric, Schiphol Taxi, Sono Motors

- Car-sharing: Car2go, GreenWheels, ConnectCar

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A New Challenger in the Amsterdam Ring

That compact four-wheel drive we were talking about? The two-seater taking over the streets of Amsterdam? That's called Biro, and last week we were invited by E-Ride Amsterdam to test drive the electric car around the neighbourhood. And it was a lot of fun!

Not only is Biro eco-friendly and efficient, it’s also comfortable in its compactness; offering more room inside than you’d guess at first glance. Even so, these little guys (at a max of 45km/per hour) are already making their mark on the streets of Amsterdam. We can find two right outside our headquarters in De Pijp, quietly plugged in and charging on our sidewalks.

“When test-driving, the kid in me felt like I was in a Super Mario Kart. It’s nice to know that in the city, you can drive something that's just as clean as it is entertaining.” - Event Attendee, Jair Jaime

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Sharing with Locals vs. Sharing with Tourists?

The E-Ride Project is about redefining e-mobility to make cities a better place for the citizens who live in it. How? Through car-sharing for locals and guided tours for people visiting Amsterdam.

We are convinced that the project is beneficial for locals to use. However we have our doubts. Would we want to give that same accessibility to tourists, when we already complain so much about how they cycle?

Surely the E-Ride Project enhances the diversification of Amsterdam's e-tourism products, we can already imagine visitors having the best time: touring, cruising, seeing sights, and driving around in unfamiliar grounds. Unfortunately we can also see a little chaos in the hands of tourists, look at what bike-sharing has done around Amsterdam without any rules and regulations: it's a nightmare. 

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We completely support the mission of creating a cleaner city, as well as the perks of electric mobility. But the centre of Amsterdam is already bursting at the seams, welcoming the fifth highest number of international visitors in Europe. There's a tsunami of bodies here already, just as is!

Although we like the intention, we still wonder: how many of these electric cars are dedicated to visitors in these guided tours? How can we ensure the safety and comfort of Amsterdammers without clear rules and regulations for this specific ride?

Despite our reservations, we think the the E-Ride Project has great potential. What do you think?

Words & Photography by Sarah Picolet

If you'd like to read-up more on the project or book a tour to see it yourself, head on over to E-Ride's Facebook and Instagram.

We'd like to thank E-Ride Amsterdam for a fun evening, it was a blast! If you'd like to read more on how our cities progress, take a look at Issue 1 & 2 of our print journal! #acitymadebypeople

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