E-Bike Research

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Under the leadership of TREC's sustainable transportation program manager, John MacArthur, TREC has developed a wealth of research around electric bicycles (e-bikes).

Novel Approaches to Model Travel Behavior and Sustainability Impacts of E-Bike Use (2020)

Researchers at University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Portland State University, University of Pittsburgh, and Bosch E-Bike Systems have received funding from the National Science Foundation to measure real-world travel behavior and assess the sustainability impacts of those choices. Current practices of tracking e-bike data rely on memory recall and self-reporting from the user. This study will instead leverage smartphones to conduct ad-hoc travel surveys to supplement passive data collection and, using machine learning algorithms, create the largest and richest dataset to support the growth of e-bike use as a transportation option.

Learn more about this ongoing study.

Estimating the Effect of E-Bikes on Person Miles Travelled and Greenhouse Gas Emissions (2020)

Many U.S. cities have climate crisis goals for reducing automotive vehicles miles traveled (VMT) in order to reduce tailpipe emissions. How do we reach the untapped potential for new bicyclists? Wider adoption of e-bikes might be the answer. This white paper found that, given a 15% e-bike mode share in Portland, Oregon, the city's CO2 emissions would be reduced by over 900 metric tons per day. The researchers conclude that the strategy of increasing e-bike mode share can be used confidently as a tool to help meet carbon emission reduction goals.

Learn more about Estimating the Effect of E-Bikes on Person Miles Travelled and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Electric Vehicle Incentive Cost and Impact Tool (2019)

This online tool enables policymakers, public stakeholders, and advocates to quickly visualize the potential outcomes of an electric vehicle incentive program made up of several vehicle types. The tool estimates the cost efficiency of a proposed program in terms of the cost per kg CO2 avoided by each mode over the course of one year. It also takes the proposed budget into consideration to calculate the potential number of incentives to be made available and the amount of total CO2 that would be avoided due to internal combustion engine automobile VMT displacement.

Learn more about the Electric Vehicle Incentive Cost and Impact Tool.

How E-Bike Incentive Programs are Used to Expand the Market (2019)

Research has demonstrated that the high cost of e-bikes was a barrier to entry. This white paper explores techniques to develop and structure e-bike incentive programs to reduce that barrier. Four main program structures were identified: Partial Purchase Subsidies, Vendor-Funded Discounts, Employer-Sponsored Programs, and Government Sponsored Loans. After an international inventory of existing programs, the researchers found that the most popular were partial purchase subsidies.

Learn more about How E-Bike Incentive Programs are Used to Expand the Market.

A North American Survey of Electric Bicycle Owners (2018)

Widespread adoption of bike commuting could improve public health through increased physical activity and reduced carbon emissions, as well as ease the burden on congested roads. However different lifestyle demands, physical ableness, and varied topography create an unequal playing field that prevents many from replacing their car trips. E-bikes could bridge this gap. If substituted for car use, e-bikes could substantially improve efficiency in the transportation system while creating a more inclusive biking culture for people of all ages and abilities.

Learn more about the North American Survey of Electric Bicycle Owners.

Evaluation of Electric Bike Use at Three Kaiser Permanente NW Employment Centers in Portland Metro Region (2017)

In 2015, participants from three Kaiser Permanente Northwest campuses were issued an e-bike for 10 weeks and were asked to complete surveys about the experience. Results show that participants biked more often and to a wider variety of places than before the study; they become more confident cyclists; and they cited fewer barriers to cycling when given the opportunity to use an e-bike. This study’s findings support the general hypothesis that e-bikes enable users to bike to more distant locations, bike more frequently and allow a broader participation in cycling for certain segments of the population.

Learn more about this Evaluation of Electric Bike Use at Three Kaiser Permanente NW Employment Centers in Portland Metro Region.

The People Behind the Research

Meet the experts behind many of the projects listed above:

  • John MacArthur, Sustainable Transportation Program Manager, TREC at Portland State University
  • Mike McQueen
  • LEVER: The Light Electric Vehicle Education & Research Initiative is a consortium of LEV researchers and educators that currently includes faculty and staff from University of Tennessee, Portland State University, and Monash University. LEVER started in 2014 to bring together some of the leading researchers in the field to collectively answer some of the biggest questions related to these emerging vehicles.