The E-Bike Potential: How E-Bikes Can Improve Sustainable Transportation

John MacArthur, Portland State University


  • Christopher Cherry, University of Tennessee, Knoxville


The electric bicycle (e-bike) is a recently introduced mode of travel that is rapidly gaining in popularity throughout the United States. The e-bike can offer a cheaper alternative to car travel (Popovich et al. 2014) and can provide users with an adequate level of physical activity intensity necessary to enhance health (Fishman and Cherry 2016). Riding an e-bike is rewarding and fun, is freeing for users with limited ability and mobility, and can even lead to a car-free household (Popovich et al. 2014; MacArthur et al. 2017, 2018; Jones, Harms, and Heinen 2016). It can be a useful tool to reduce CO2 emissions, urban noise and air pollution, and inner city traffic (Weiss et al. 2015). Lastly, e-bikes encourage users to cycle farther and more often than conventional bicycles (MacArthur et al. 2018), meaning that they offer the opportunity to multiply the benefits already obtained by conventional cycling. 

This project explores the potential e-bike effect on person miles traveled (PMT) and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in terms of CO2 for varying levels of e-bike mode share replacement. In addition, a white paper presents how e-bike incentive programs are being developed around the world and how they can be used to expand the market.

Learn more about projects and researchers behind the Light Electric Vehicle Education and Research (LEVER) Initiative here: LEVER is a consortium of Light Electric Vehicle (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.

Photo by Halfpoint/iStock 

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
May 30,2019
UTC Grant Cycle:
non-UTC project