E-Bike Studies

Jump to bike lane & other active transportation economic impact studies

E-Bike 1000MPG Project

Ongoing project (2019 - present) to assess the potential climate impact of e-bikes. Includes a continuing citizen science monitoring project to measure charging energy usage of e-bikes on the road.

Key findings:

  • E-bikes get anywhere from 1000 to 4000 MPG equivalent - 400 to 1600 km/liter

  • E-bikes cost less than a penny a mile to charge.

  • E-bikes can go 70 times as far as a 30 mpg gas car per pound of climate emissions (national average electric energy mix - more than twice that with California's mix). E-bikes are about 20 times more efficient than electric cars.

Results are based on monitoring of 26 e-bikes in California, including cargo and adaptive e-trikes as well as commuter bikes for over 3000 miles of riding. (detailed results at Ebike 1000 MPG Project - Results)

  • E-bikes get 30-100 times more miles per pound of battery than an electric car, greatly reducing the pollution and human rights impacts of vehicle battery metals.

Results based on spec analysis of Tesla EV vs Bosch ebike battery charging life expectancy (full analysis at Ebike 1000 MPG Project - Batteries)

By Tom Lent, Walk Bike Berkeley, E-Bike 1000 MPG Project

Using E-Bike Purchase Incentive Programs to Expand the Market

White paper that explores different program designs for ebike incentives and how to make them most effective

By Cameron Bennett, John MacArthur, Christopher Cherry, and Luke Jones, Portland State University Transportation Research & Education Center, May 19, 2022

NREL OpenPATH Tool Enables Expanded E-Bike Pilot Program To Demonstrate Energy-Efficiency Benefits

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has developed an open-source platform called NREL OpenPATH that works on smartphones of participants in public ebike incentive and other transportation programs to collect trip information for ongoing data collection and integrated analysis. It has already been used to evaluate and improved ebike programs under the Colorado Energy Office. 

NREL press release by Natasha Nguyen July 11, 2022.

Examining the Effects of a Bike & E-Bike Lending Program on Commuting Behavior

2022 study of commuting behavior of over 2,600 Google employees provided free pedal and e-bikes for six months.

Key findings:

  • Bike commutes tripled 

  • Increase of 8.4 to 10.5 additional commute miles by bike per week. Virtually all replacing SOV miles.

  • Average decrease of 2.4 SOV commute days/week replacing approximately 400,000 SOV commute miles over 4 years of program monitoring

  • Even participants with long commutes (> 10 miles) biked more than 40% of the time on average

​Watch a webinar about the program and study (or get the slides) at https://transweb.sjsu.edu/events/past

By Dillon Fitch, & Zeyu Gao, UC Davis and Lucy Noble & Terry Mac, Google. February 2022.

The E-Bike Potential: Estimating regional e-bike impacts on greenhouse gas emissions

2020 study of mode shift by e-bike purchasers to estimate CO2 savings on a regional basis.

Key Findings:

  • A 15% mode shift to e-bikes in the Portland, OR region would result in a 12% reduction in transportation CO2 emissions - about 1,000 ,metric tons a day - with an average savings of 225 kg of CO2 per e-bike per year.

By Michael McQueen, John MacArthur, & Christopher Cherry, Portland State University & University of Tennessee, October 2020.

Can Incentivizing E-bikes Support GHG Goals? Launching the New EV Incentive Cost and Impact Tool

2020 model that projects the cost per kg of CO2 saved by vehicle subsidy programs.

Key Findings:

  • An e-bike incentive of $350 would be more cost effective for CO2 displacement and reach more people than the $2500 subsidy for Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) currently offered by Oregon’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP).

By Mike McQueen &John MacArthur, Portland State University Transportation Research & Education Center, June 2020

The ClimateAction Center E-bike Project has developed a similar unpublished tool for comparing incentive programs. Applied to the program proposed under 2021 CA legislation (AB117), it similarly found that a $1000 e-bike incentive is cost competitive to the $7500 BEV subsidy currently offered in California's CVRP and able to reach far more people.

Contact Tom Lent at the ClimateAction Center E-bike Project for more info

Electric Assisted Bikes (E-bikes) Show Promise in Getting People out of Cars

2019 review of research studies on mode shift from car travel to e-bikes and of e-bike incentive programs.

Key Findings:

  • Evidence from a variety of research studies indicates that e-bicycling, more so than conventional bicycling, substitutes for car travel.

  • Most studies show 35-50% of e-bike trips replaced car trips with some studies showing even higher commuter trip replacement rates. VMT reduction studies are limited.

  • Incentive programs are widespread in Europe.

  • Combination of financial incentives, infrastructure and e-bikeshare may be most effective to increase adoption.

By Dillon Fitch Ph.D., Co-Director, BicyclingPlus Research Collaborative, UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, April 2019.

 

A North American Survey of Electric Bicycle Owners 

2017 survey of about 1800 e-bike riders in North America to find out why they purchased an e-bike, how they ride it and what those rides replace.

Key findings:

E-bike riders take: 

  • More trips (than they would by pedal bike)

  • Longer trips

  • More hills

  • Farther and faster with less effort and more cargo or children

  • Different types of trips - e.g more utilitarian

E-bike trips replace trips by bike, transit and car

  • Majority of utilitarian e-bike trips are replacing a car trip

Riders feel safer on an e-bike than a regular bike

  • Speed and range allows them to take longer routes to avoid dangerous streets

  • Quicker acceleration helps get through wide intersections safely

  • Can reduce speed differential with traffic 

Most common reasons to purchase an e-bike:

  • Replace car trips - about one third of e-bike owners use their e-bike as their primary mode of transportation for commuting and errands.

  • Reduce physical exertion

  • Deal with challenging topography (hills)

Key motivations by demographics:

  • Older adults and those with physical disabilities:

    • Reduce effort of riding

    • Health & fitness

    • Use their bikes more for recreation than utilitarian uses

  • Younger and those with no physical limitations:

    • Replace car trips

    • Make commute easier, quicker and more cost effective

    • Use their bikes more heavily for utilitarian purposes than recreation and exercise

  • Females value e-bikes more than males do for:

    • Getting up hills

    • Carrying cargo or kids

    • Keeping up with friends and family on rides 

E-bikes make it possible for more people to ride who:

  • Can’t ride a pedal bike

  • Don’t feel safe riding a bike

By John MacArthur, etal, Portland State University, Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) 

March 2018

A Global High Shift Cycling Scenario: The Potential for Dramatically Increasing Bicycle and E-bike Use in Cities Around the World, with Estimated Energy, CO2, and Cost Impacts

2015 survey of cycling and e-bike ridership around the world, estimates of trends, projection of potential scenarios for 2030 & 2050 levels and potential energy and CO2 impacts.

Key Findings

A proposed range of polices and investments could almost double cycle/e-bike mode share in urban travel around the world to 11% by 2030, reducing urban transport energy use and CO2 emissions about 7%, saving $6 trillion globally in infrastructure, fuel and vehicle costs, plus gain a wide range of other quality of life benefits in reduced air pollution, lower traffic congestion, reduced injuries and fatalities and improved health.

By the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy and the University of California, Davis Jacob Mason, Lew Fulton, Zane McDonald. Research commissioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), and the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA). November 12, 2015

Bike lane economic impact studies

There have been many studies of the economic impacts of bike lanes & pedestrian improvements. Most have been driven by shop owner concerns that eliminating parking spots to make room for bike lanes & pedestrians will lead to a loss of revenue.

The Complete Business Case for Converting Street Parking Into Bike Lanes

Metasurvey of 12 studies of bike lane conversinos from around the world.

Key Findings

"Replacing on-street parking with a bike lane has little to no impact on local business, and in some cases might even increase business. While cyclists tend to spend less per shopping trip than drivers, they also tend to make more trips, pumping more total money into the local economy over time."

Eric Jaffe, Bloomberg CityLab, March 13, 2015,

Metro Active Transportation Return On Investment Study

Survey of 12 active transportation  projects in Oregon, mostly pedestrian, but a few including bike lanes.

Key Findings

"75% of the project locations saw measurable economic gains in the food or retail industries after implementation. The projects that did not see positive effects tended to have higher traffic volumes and/or speeds. Projects are more likely to reach their full potential when they reduce the effects of an auto-oriented environment and create places for walking that are also less stressful and more comfortable."

Portland State University, April 2022.