June 19, 2019

E-Bikes Are Coming & Research Shows Users are Happier

Everyone has an opinion on them and in Asia there are over two hundred million in use. Although the technology is twenty years old, “e-bikes” or electric bikes originally had cumbersome heavy batteries that did not last long. Lithium ion batteries now replace those huge early batteries and can weigh ten pounds or less, half the weight of earlier e-bike batteries, and have a range of up to 60 miles or nearly 100 kilometers.

Technically the difference between an electric bike and a regular one is an electric drive system and a power control.  An e-bike can level the playing field for people of all ages and fitness levels to ride hills and shorten the time it takes to travel. While there is an electric motor to provide a power assist, it does not need to be used all the time, and e-bikes can also be used for small shopping errands that normally would require a car.

The Province of British Columbia has just announced that a bigger rebate of $850 to purchase an e-bike will be given to people who junk cars through their program.While only 2.5 percent of people in this province are currently biking, the Province’s mandate is to double active transportation trips~those by walking, rolling or cycling~by 2030. E-bikes are on the verge of becoming the next big thing in Metro Vancouver, and it turns out that electric bikers might actually be happier too.

There’s a new article in the Journal of Transport and Health coming out in September that examines the qualitative reasons that people on e-bike have adjusted to this form of travel. It turns out that people on e-bikes identify four main reasons for happiness:

  1. Having reliance and comfort in controlling the commute and having dependable reliability on arrival times, regardless of  traffic;
  2. Being able to be outdoors, with the sights, sounds, and nature visible on the commute;
  3. Enjoying the impact of moderate intensity exercise to and from destinations;
  4. Having the chance for enhanced social interaction with others along the route.

The researchers concluded that a shift needs to be made from researching solely on cycling safety concerns  to embracing the positive impact of active transport pleasures and understanding the importance of the qualitative cycling experience. Electric bicycles may indeed enhance cycling mode satisfaction, and more research is needed to be on the positive impact of using e-bikes. By owning an electric bicycle as well as a standard bicycle cyclist satisfaction appears to increase, which helps promote the more universal use of bicycle as a mode of travel and commuting.

Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com


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  1. I’m one of those people who have an ebike and a standard bike and though a member of 3 car shares have only used them 9 times in 10 years. I haven’t used a car share since I got the ebike 3 years ago. I originally got the ebike because as I waited for my second knee replacement it became hard to get home when loaded with 2 paniers full of heavy groceries.

    I was back on my standard bike 8 weeks after last year’s knee replacement and the ebike a few weeks after that. I endorse all the happiness finding above, and would add some more of my own:

    – As you get older is great not to have to worry about having enough energy to do all your bike-based chores or visit all the places you want to in one day. For example, I can bike the 22km round trip to go sailing and still go out to get groceries later.

    – If like a lot of older people you have joint issues, then the assist you get with standing start on a hill really helps. I find this particularly helpful when I’m headed south up to my GP on Broadway where I need to stop at several junctions.

    Of course you can get ebikes with a throttle and 500W so you never actually need to pedal, but that wouldn’t be much exercise and also wouldn’t be as much fun! I have a 250W Motorino and rarely use more than 1 or 2 of the 5 levels of assist it offers.

  2. The BC Scrap It program previously offered $400 so $850 is a step up but contrast this with the thousands provided to those purchasing a four wheel electric vehicle. And there is nothing in the EV program that requires you to scrap your junker because you are likely not driving one either?

    Most cars and trucks I see on our roads are not ready for the scrap heap unless they become involved in a collision. If the intent of the Scrap It program is to get people out of their cars and onto bicycles, how many will make the switch and totally abandon their 4 wheel transport in favour of two wheels. It would be interesting to see some stats on how many people have taken advantage of the Scrap It program. In the past. This program made sense when we had many inefficient vehicles with carbourators on our roads. Are there even any of those clunkers on our roads now? The biggest problem with promoting ebikes is that they might actually reduce car ownership.

      1. Thank you! It’s good to know that in buying a qualifying EV one is likely scrapping a fossil fueled vehicle. It’s tempting to insure a really old clunker and drive it for 6 months to get that $6000 credit on a new car. Alas, my now 20 year old Odyssey is hanging in there with very low km as the last dozen years most trips have been on an ebike. There are some things where a car is needed but younger and older people are starting to realize that an ebike offers great mobility that allows one to ignore traffic congestion and have some fun while bringing home the groceries. I think the incentive to buy an ebike while scrapping a car should be much greater, say, $3000 as a good ebike will set one back easily $5000. Promoting ebikes would benefit society in countless ways. There would have to be controls. In the event the ebike owner subsequently registers a car within a given number of years, ICBC could ask for proportional repayment of the incentive. The Scrap It program, as currently administered by the car dealers largely benefits them and perhaps they are using my tax dollars to promote car sales?