A six month study has shown that purchasers of electric bikes increased their cycling journeys from 2.1km to 9.2km per day on average. E-cycling as a share of all kms travelled increased from 17 to 49 percent after participants had acquired the electric bike.
The changes were measured against other comparison groups – including those intending to purchase an electric bike and a broader comparison group; travel diaries in comparison groups showed negligible changes in transport behaviour during the same period.
The focus of the transportation study was to confirm previous short term trials, which also resulted in e-bike owners cycling more and using private cars less, but without the control group comparison for a more robust analysis. The researchers, Aslak Fyhri and Hanne Beate Sundfor, say that ‘studies without control groups may wrongly attribute seasonal mode share changes to e-bikes.’
One of the challenges of previous studies was whether the choice of comparison groups (where they existed) influenced any results. In this study the researchers included a group intending to purchase an electric bike, and closely matched to the trial group, in order to better demonstrate the transport behaviour changes of those gaining access to an electric bike. Alongside that, short study periods may not capture those ‘dropping out’ of e-cycling, as is often reported with other physical activities after an initially promising start.
The researchers say the electric bike has a ‘strong potential to shift people from motorised to active transport,’ with this latest study building on existing research also pointing to increased cycling and fewer car journeys.
The study summary says: ‘The results show that the large change in cycling we previously found of a trial scheme with e-bikes is replicated with actual customers. The change in cycling share is somewhat larger than it was for the short-term users, showing that mode change from e-bikes is not just a novelty effect….If anything, the change in cycling share is somewhat larger than it was for the short-term users.’
The researchers noted that future studies should also observe transport behaviour changes when an e-bike purchase is subsidised as a further variable
Full details of the study can be found here: Science Daily