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E-bicycle users and their experiences

A qualitative understanding of who uses e-bicycles and why

· Output,Innovation

The sale of e-bikes is growing at a rapid rate across Europe. Whilst market data is available describing sales trends there is limited understanding of the experience of early adopters of e-bike technology. This research was funded by NWO and performed 22 in-depth interviews with new e-bike users in the Netherlands and the UK, two very different countries in terms of their levels of, and provision for, cycling. 

Findings revealed that the motive for purchasing e-bikes was often to allow maintenance of cycling against a backdrop of changing individual or household circumstances. E-bikes also provided new opportunities for people who would not otherwise consider conventional cycling. Perceptions of travel behavior change revealed that e-biking was replacing conventional cycling but was also replacing journeys that would have been made by car. There was also a perception that e-biking has increased, or at least allowed participants to maintain, some form of physical activity and had benefitted personal wellbeing. Technological, social and environmental barriers to e-biking were identified. These included weight of bicycle, battery life, purchase price, social stigma and limitations of cycle infrastructure provision. The paper concludes with a series of policy recommendations that realize the potential for e-biking to promote health, wellbeing and sustainable urban mobility.

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