E-Bike Studies

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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.

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

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.

  • 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 are based on monitoring of 25 e-bikes in California, including cargo and adaptive e-trikes as well as commuter bikes for over 2900 miles of riding.

Google Bike Lending Program: Effects of a Bike & E-Bike Lending Program on Commuting Behavior

2022 study of commuting behavior of over 2,600 employees provided free pedal and e-bikes for six months. By Dillon Fitch, & Zeyu Gao, UC Davis and Lucy Noble & Terry Mac, Google. February 2022 https://transweb.sjsu.edu/research/2051-Ebike-Employer .

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

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.

By Michael McQueen, John MacArthur, and Christopher Cherry, Portland State University & University of Tennessee, October 2020 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1361920920306696?via%3Dihub 

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.

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.

By Mike McQueen and John MacArthur, Portland State University Transportation Research and Education Center, June 2020 https://trec.pdx.edu/news/can-incentivizing-e-bikes-support-ghg-goals-launching-new-ev-incentive-cost-and-impact-tool

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).


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.

By Dillon Fitch Ph.D., Co-Director, BicyclingPlus Research Collaborative, UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, April 2019, https://escholarship.org/uc/item/3mm040km

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.

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.

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

March 2018 https://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/trec_reports/161/

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

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.

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 https://itdpdotorg.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/A-Global-High-Shift-Cycling-Scenario_Nov-2015.pdf

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.

Bike lane economic impact studies

There have been many studies of the economic impacts of bike lanes. Most have been driven by shop owner concerns that eliminating parking spots to make room for bike lanes will lead to a loss of revenue. Bloomberg CityLab surveyed 12 studies from around the world.

Eric Jaffe, The Complete Business Case for Converting Street Parking Into Bike Lanes, March 13, 2015, Bloomberg CItyLab

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."