August 12, 2019

E-bikes (possibly) won’t make you fat

Another counter-intuitive study that offsets a reasonable expectation that more electric bikes and scooters will mean less fit users – kind of like the idea that ‘riding hailing will result in less SOV use and vehicle congestion’.  (Turns out Uber et al increase congestion and reduce transit use.)  But there are qualifications.

From treehugger:

E-bikers use their bikes more, go longer distances, and often substitute it for driving or transit. …

A new study, with a mouthful of a title, “Physical activity of electric bicycle users compared to conventional bicycle users and non-cyclists: Insights based on health and transport data from an online survey in seven European cities,” finds that in fact it is true: e-bikers take longer trips and get pretty much the same physical activity gains as analog cyclists. …

But perhaps even more significant is the dramatic increase in exercise among people who switch from cars to e-bikes, a much easier transition than from cars to a-bikes.

It should be noted that this study looks at European pedelec e-bikes like my Gazelle, where people have to pedal a bit to get the 250 watt motor to kick in. Results probably don’t apply to overpowered throttle-controlled American e-bikes or scooters. Because, as the study authors note, with a pedelec, “using an e-bike requires moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity, depending on topography.”

There is so much to unpack from this study. It also looks at how e-bikes are easier for older riders, keeping them fitter longer. It also reinforces my opinion that the Europeans got it right by limiting speed and power on e-bikes and mandating that they are all pedelecs rather than throttle operated; you don’t get much exercise on a motorcycle.

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  1. Actually, it’s transit use that reduces transit use. No one WANTS to ride the bus. Far too often, it’s a crappy experience. Ever find yourself counting down the number of stops until you can get off. Whenever less germ-ridden (pun intended) modes of transit come along at affordable prices, we’re all over them. That’s partially why we restrict Uber – restrictions keep transportation costs high, which forces people onto buses. Want to quickly ramp up use of mass transit? Easy, outlaw e-bikes and e-scooters.

    The number-one driver of transit use is actually high housing prices. We give up our cars so we can dump our transportation budget into our housing budget, then we hold our noses and cram ourselves onto buses. If housing were more affordable, people would increase their transportation budgets and generally opt for the freedom, comfort, and safety of their own personal vehicle. Try taking your three kids to and from two different schools on the bus everyday.

    1. I’m sorry you hate the bus so much. But if not for its antibody-building seats and handles, lurching speeds, and moaning children, what else would there be to complain about in life? Count your blessings you don’t live in the middle of nowhere and are forced into a 30 minute car ride every time you need to leave your house.

      The critical question is, can you put one of those motored bikes on the front of a Translink bus rack?

      1. On Translink buses, no to e bikes (but you can take them on Skytrain and the Seabus).

        On BC Transit buses, yes to e bikes, but only if they are less than 25 kg, the battery is removed, and the tires are not too wide to fit in the holders.

  2. “No one WANTS to ride the bus.”

    Bussed, Skytrained, and drove today. The bus was the most enjoyable trip. I choose to ride my usual bus past the first avail Skytrain station, simply because it is a more pleasant experience

    The inadequacies of transit are far over-stated IMO. And that contributes to the unpopularity. Without merit I think.

  3. The only people who can legitimately gripe about the buses are the bus drivers themselves. Last year, I had a health problem that precluded me using my e-bike for a while, so I took the bus to work, and saw the crap that the bus drivers have to put up with. I’m back on my e-bike now, but I go out of my way to be kind to those bus drivers that I share my route to work with.

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