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Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are well established in China and other Asian and European countries but have yet to realize their potential in the United States, although recently the number of e-bikes has been growing. Research on the economic, operational, and safety issues of e-bikes in the U.S. is limited. This research aims in part to understand if different bicycling technology, in this case electric assist bicycles or e-bikes, can reduce barriers to bicycling and encourage more bike trips and longer bike trips, and increase the diversity of people bicycling, including people with a disability or chronic injury to bicycle. Some of these barriers include trip distance, topography, time, and rider effort. E-bikes typically resemble a standard pedal bicycle with the addition of a rechargeable battery and electric motor to assist the rider with propulsion. To answer these questions, we conducted an online survey of existing e-bike users on their purchase and use decisions. Results from 553 e-bike users across North America are analyzed here. Results suggest that e-bikes are enabling users to bike more often, to more distant locations, and to carry more cargo with them. Additionally, e-bikes allow people who would otherwise not be able to bike because of physical limitations or proximity to locations, the ability to bike with electric assist.
John MacArthur is the Portland State University Research Associate with the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium. He is active in research related to sustainable transportation, particularly in the areas of climate adaptation, transportation electrification, and the relationship between transportation and public health. Recently, John been exploring role of e-bikes in our transportation system. He is currently working on two projects which are lending out e-bikes to people in the Portland Metro area. Before joining the OTREC staff, Mr. MacArthur was the Sustainable Transportation Coordinator for HDR Inc. and worked on Oregon's OTIA III State Bridge Delivery Program, replacing or retrofitting over 200 state bridges. He has worked for 15 years in the environmental and sustainability field. He earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Lehigh University and his M.S. in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of Michigan, School of Public Health.
Electric bicycles -- United States -- Surveys, Cyclists -- United States -- Public opinion, Electric bicycles -- Effect on reducing barriers to cycling
Transportation | Urban Studies and Planning
MacArthur, John, "E-Bikes in the United States" (2013). TREC Friday Seminar Series. 80.