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EBike Studies

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Ebike climate impact & user behavior studies

E-Bike 1000MPG Project

Ongoing project (2019 - present) to assess the potential climate impact of e-bikes. Includes the Ebike Monitoring Project, a ongoing 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 30 ebikes in California, including cargo and adaptive etrikes 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.

Battery analysis based on Tesla EV vs Bosch ebike battery specs for charging life expectancy (full analysis at Ebike 1000 MPG Project - Batteries)

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

The Ebike Monitoring Project is part of the SciStarter citizen science network. 

Covered by Derek Markham, E-Bikes Are Radically More Efficient Than Electric Cars, Clean Technica, 12/11/2023. 

Denver’s 2022 Ebike Incentive Program: Results and Recommendation

2023 analysis of the first nine months of Denver's program. Results from survey across most participants at the end of 2022 and ride app tracking of 70 riders for 3 months in 2022 over 3,500 ebike rides and over 15,000 miles). Report also describes the Denver program and includes lessons learned

Key Findings:

  • Ebikes are replacing an average of 3.4 round car trips/week, averaging 26 mile/week per rider and totaling about 100,000 vehicle miles per week across all program participants.

  • 65% riding at least once a day. Average trip length is 3.3 miles

  • Almost 1/3 are new to bike riding.

  • 2/3 of the program funding went to low income qualified residents. They are riding their ebikes nearly 50% more than non low income participants (average of 32 miles vs 22 miles per week)

  • Program savings of 0.94 lb CO2e/$, for a total of 2,040 MT CO2e emissions avoided per year.

  • During the program rollout, shared bike and scooter trips in Denver exceeded the highest recorded ridership since launching in 2018, demonstrating the complementary nature of the two city-supported programs.

By Mike Salisbury of Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency (CASR), Brian Ellin, Michael Schwartz, and Nelle Pierson of Ride Report, and Bryn Grunwald, Jacob Korn, and Ben Holland of Rocky Mountain Institute

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.

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.

Ebike incentive program effectiveness studies

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

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

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.

Life Cycle Analysis studies

E-bikes have very low energy & carbon impact over the lifecycle. Several life cycle analysis studies have compared e-bikes with cars.

Electric bike vs car: The environmental benefits of using an electric bike instead of a car

Life cycle analysis of a Tiller roadster e-bike compared to a Toyota Corolla.

Key Findings

They calculated a carbon footprint of 149 kg CO2e for the e-bike and 8500 kg, for a Toyota Corolla. The carbon footprint of the small economy car was about 56 times greater than the e-bike. Larger vehicles, of course would be even worse. They calculated that even if recharged with coal fired electricity, the Tiller e-bike would pay for its entire life cycle carbon footprint in 1000 km if replacing trips in the Corolla.

Research commissioned by Tiller Cycles, accessed 10/17/19.


Life Cycle Assessment of Transportation Options for Commuters

Life cycle analysis comparing bikes, ebikes, walking and a sedan car.

Key Findings

Life cycle energy use of 60 kilojoules per passenger miles traveled (PMT) for traditional bicycles and 82 kJ/PMT for e-bikes, compared to 4027 kj/PMT for a Toyota Camry sedan car. When factoring in the CO2 released from harder pedaling on a normal bike and walking, the greenhouse gas emissions per PMT were roughly identical between e-bikes and regular bikes and walking. All of them were less than 10% of the sedan (and this was with conservative assumptions of how far the bicycles would be ridden - as miles traveled by bike go up, the embodied energy per mile will go down substantially).

From the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Shreya Dave, February 2010, accessed 10/17/2019, referenced in Laura McCamy, How Green is Your Bike?, Momentum Mag, April 27, 2015

Health studies

While ebikes require less effort to ride than a pedal bike on the same terrain, numerous studies have shown comparable benefits as they expand riders  ability and willingness to ride further and in more challenging terrain. We'll be adding more of these studies here soon.

The effect of cycling on cognitive function and well-being in older adults.

Study of the effects of an outdoor cycling intervention on cognitive function and mental health in older adults, comparing a pedal cycling group and an ebike group each cycling 3 times a week for 30 minutes and a non cycling control group.

Key Findings

Both cycling groups saw improvements in executive functioning tasks compared to the non-cycling control group. The e-bike group also saw improved mental health scores compared to non-cycling controls. While both cycling groups saw benefits, highlighting the importance of physical activity on overall health, the authors suggest that e-bikes, which allow for increased independence and mobility for older adults, may provide a powerful way to re-engage older adults with the outdoor environment.
Leyland, L et al (2019) PLoS One, 14. doi:


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

Meta study of 12 studies of bike lane conversions 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.  

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