Research on ebikes and physical activity is that they provide a lower level of physical activity than traditional bikes, but still achieve a level necessary for health enhancement. Rose and Cock (2005)
Even when ecyclists are using the highest levels of electrical assistance on ebikes they are able to meet World Health Organisation guidelines for moderate physical activity. Simons (2009); Gojanovic (2011); de Geus and Hendriksen (2015)
This is because even though riding requires less effort, overall the number and length of cycling trips people make increase when they have an ebike compared with a regular bicycle.
Ebikes reduce ‘perceived exertion’ while maintaining health-enhancing levels of physical activity, they are particularly useful for encouraging physical activity amongst people who are sedentary, older or disabled and those recovering from injury. (Blumenstein et al 2014; Johnson and Rose 2015a).
Quite simply, ebikes get people moving, and keep people moving.
However, there is a lack of evidence regarding the health benefits of ebikes with open throttles*.
*An ‘open’ throttle is one that permits engagement of the motor up to the maximum motor-assisted speed level defined by the manufacturer or the maximum speed the motor can attain (if the motor is ‘ungoverned’), rather than a ‘closed’ throttle that is programmed by the manufacturer to only engage the motor up to a certain speed.
Emissions of ebikes are inconsequential and likely better than the set of alternative modes, even in large numbers. Ebikes have the potential to make an important contribution to enabling New Zealand to meet carbon reduction targets.
Ebikes tend to replace a combination of bicycle use and car use.
Ebike use contributes to a small but significant reduction in car use….900 km fewer car kilometres per year; with a corresponding reduction of 108 kg of CO2 per year. Roetynck 2010
GPS tracking devices showed ecyclists were making more ‘car-like’ trips compared with traditional cyclists, ie longer with multiple stops Langford 2013.
Ebikes increase the distance people can cycle, enabling more people to take advantage of health and environmental benefits of cycling. Fyhri&Fearnley 2015
Ebikes help more people who would not otherwise cycle take up cycling, there are potential congestion reduction and urban land form benefits.
A shift in travel modes toward more cycling supports denser cities with transportation systems more oriented to walking, cycling and public transport, as opposed to sprawling car-dominated cities. Mason et al (2015)
Getting more people cycling would also have a ‘safety in numbers’ benefit as more people riding improves the conspicuity of cyclists to drivers. Jacobsen 2015.
Assistive mobility users felt their device enabled them to participate in more activities, gave them greater independence and increased their sense of security. Without these devices, many users would feel housebound. Thoreau 2015.
Basic cost comparisons
Running costs per week for a 50-150km commute in Dunedin 2018
Car $30-$75 (parking fees add $25-$50)