Citing two TREC studies, Congressman Jimmy Panetta of the 20th District of California and Congressional Bike Caucus Chairman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon have introduced the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act to encourage the use of electric bicycles, or e-bikes.

The E-BIKE Act creates a consumer tax credit that:

  • Covers 30% of the cost of the electric bicycle, up to a $1,500 credit
  • Applies to new electric bicycles that cost less than $8,000
  • Is fully refundable, allowing lower-income workers to claim the credit

The first TREC study referenced, The E-Bike Potential: How E-Bikes Can Improve Sustainable Transportation, found that if 15% of car trips were made by e-bike, carbon emissions would drop by 12%. This finding was based on a Portland, Oregon case study. The researchers also created an Electric Vehicle Incentive Cost and Impact Tool which enables policymakers, public stakeholders, and advocates to quickly visualize the potential outcomes of...

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The Portland State University Bike Hub has received funding to purchase 25 electric bikes via a new grant from Portland General Electric.

The Bike Hub is a full-service retail bike shop on campus, opened in 2010. The shop offers long-term bike rental through its VikeBike program, a fleet of over 140 bikes offered at low cost (or no cost, based on need). The program’s existing fleet was assembled by collecting and refurbishing abandoned bikes on campus and made available to students for long-term rentals.

PSU will use this funding to purchase 25 Batch Bicycles e-bikes, to supplement the rental fleet and provide greater access to those living further from campus or those with physical barriers to cycling, and serve as a pilot program toward the eventual full replacement of the rental fleet with e-bikes.

Read more about the PGE program on BikePortland, or read about TREC research focusing on e-bikes.

Photo by Edis Jurcys

The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University is home to the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI), and other transportation...

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A close-up view of the motor mounted on the back of an e-bike, behind the rider's seat.

Authored by Mike McQueen and John MacArthur, Portland State University

Electric bikes (e-bikes) are quickly becoming common in U.S. cities and suburbs, but we still have a ways to go compared to our neighbors across the Atlantic.  In recent years, e-bike sales have steadily increased with unprecedented growth in Europe, especially in the Netherlands. Can the U.S. catch up? E-bikes offer a cheaper alternative to car travel and also provide physical activity. Riders with limited physical ability find that e-bikes...

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E-bikes

MOBILITY BY E-BIKE STUDY

Share your trips with transportation researchers to grow knowledge about e-bike mobility and sustainability.

We're seeking e-bike users from all over the U.S. to join a new research project led by John MacArthur of Portland State University and Chris Cherry of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. They're looking at the sustainability effects of e-bikes and utilitarian travel behavior of e-bike users, including origin, destination, route, time, speed, mode replacement, and trip purpose. Passively share your trips with us - just plug in a dongle, download our app, and ride like you normally do. The study is open to U.S.-based participants who ride an e-bike with a Bosch onboard computer, and use an iPhone.

Questions? See our Frequently Asked Questions. To learn more and participate, visit the Mobility By E-Bike Study project website.

HOW DOES THE STUDY WORK?

1) Instrumentation

Researchers developed a low-impact instrumentation platform that leverages and merges the unique capabilities of e-bike and smartphone sensors. This technology relies on communication between the e-bike and...

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Mike McQueen is a second year PSU masters in transportation engineering student working with John MacArthur and Kelly Clifton. A two-time Eisenhower Fellow, and the 2019 YPT National StreetLight Fellow, Mike researches e-bike travel behavior, and in this video he describes his work on How E-Bike Incentive Programs are...

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Principal Investigators: John MacArthur, Portland State University; and Christopher Cherry, University of Tennessee
Learn more about this education project by viewing the Executive Summary and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

If more drivers switched seats to a bicycle, there would be immediate and tangible benefits on the road. 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.

Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are a relatively new mode of transportation that 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.

A newly published NITC study by John MacArthur of...

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Evaluation of Electric Bike Use at Three Kaiser Permanente NW Employment Centers in Portland Metro Region
John MacArthur, Portland State University; Jennifer Dill, Portland State University

Despite efforts to get more people biking, North America still has low ridership numbers. The problem? Biking is hard.

A new report by John MacArthur of Portland State University's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC), funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communtiies, offers a solution to that problem: e-bikes. 

Many people surveyed say that having to pedal up hills and arriving at their destination sweaty are major deterrents to commuting by bike, even when bike lanes and other facilities are there.

Researchers have put a lot of thought into ways to get more people riding bicycles by improving bicycle infrastructure, land use and public engagement. The efforts are largely due to concerns about congestion, climate change and public health. Comparatively little research, however, has focused on the bicycle itself.

MacArthur and co-investigator...

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In 2009, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed the Copenhagen Wheel, a device that converts an ordinary bicycle into a hybrid e-bike.

An e-bike is considered a motorized bicycle under Massachusetts law. This means that once the 13-pound, 26-inch Copenhagen Wheel is attached to the rear wheel of a bicycle, the resulting vehicle requires a driver’s license to operate, must be registered with the DMV, and its rider must wear, not just a bike helmet, but a motorcycle helmet to be in compliance with the law.

Electric bicycles, or e-bikes, are well established in China and other Asian and European countries but market adoption has been slow in the United States.

Part of the reason could be that the law is often nebulous where e-bikes are concerned.

NITC researchers at Portland State University conducted a policy review revealing the current state of legislation regarding e-bikes in the United States and Canada.

The report, Regulations of E-Bikes in North America, provides a summary of legal definitions and requirements surrounding the use of electric-assist bicycles in each of the 50 states, Washington D.C. and 13 Canadian provinces.

No two jurisdictions are exactly alike in their legal treatment of this relatively new mode...

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As part of an ongoing project studying the use of electric-assist bicycles, or e-bikes, a research team led by TREC's John MacArthur conducted an online survey of e-bike users on their purchase and use decisions. The results, highlighted in this infographic, suggest that e-bikes enable people to bike more often, bike farther and carry more cargo than on a traditional bicycle. In addition, e-bikes let people ride a bike who otherwise could not because of physical limitations or distance.

Click image for larger version:OTREC e-bike infographic Please include attribution to trec.pdx.edu

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