Ebikes are replacing cars and increasing the time people spend riding, a study of ebike users in North America has found.
The study by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NTIC) at Portland State University found that 28% of ebikes are bought with the purpose of replacing car trips.
It also found that after buying an ebike, people rode more often. 25% of respondents said they used to ride a regular bike once a week, but after buying an ebike, 49% became daily riders.
The survey results are another indicator that ebikes can transform the transport landscape and make bike riding more attractive and accessible.
Other reasons people gave for switching to ebikes was because they live in hilly areas and want to be able to ride in normal clothes without getting too sweaty.
They can also keep people active and riding whose circumstances mean they cannot ride other bikes – 10% of respondents said the number one reason they bought an ebike was because a medical condition prevents them from riding standard bicycles.
And it isn’t for commuting alone that people use their ebikes – 12% of the survey’s respondents own cargo ebikes that can carry children and shopping.
Accessibility in Australia
Ebikes are one of, if not the fastest-growing sector in Australia’s bike market, but we need to make them more accessible to people.
A big step we could take to see ebike usage like that highlighted in the North American research could be to abolish the fringe benefit tax exemption for private vehicles, and extend exemptions to private ebikes and standard bicycles.
Currently, Australians can salary package an ebike from retailer E-stralian, which makes the price of an ebike much more manageable. However, E-stralian do only have a limited selection of ebikes available.
The scheme could be similar to that of Belgium and the Netherlands where employees receive tax-free bikes, as well as cash-for-kilometres, depending on how much riding they do.
By removing the financial incentives for people to drive a car and encouraging riding, we will see more people ditch their cars for bikes.
There was one positive move last month when the proposal for a sneaky tariff on e-bikes was removed, however we do need to see more.
The survey by NTIC was completed by more than 1,700 ebike owners in the USA and Canada. The areas with the most ebike users were California, Oregon and Washington.