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Evidence of Impacts

Bike share is rapidly growing in the UK and has demonstrated its role in helping to normalise cycling. This CoMoUK report covers a wide survey of public bike share and includes analysis from multiple operator schemes.

Public Bike Share Users Survey Results 2020

The 2020 survey report is the fifth national annual review of the impacts of bike share by CoMoUK. It provides evidence of the benefits of the schemes to our communities in particular their role in attracting new riders. The percentage of e-bikes users responding has increased, providing a larger sample size to make comparisons with conventional pedal fleets. The results also reflected the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns with a higher proportion of leisure and utility trips versus commuting.

Thanks to Sally Cairns & Associates for analysis of the survey data. CoMoUK welcomes input into the design of the 2021 research programme and collaboration with other research organisations.

2019 Bike Share Survey

Bikes for All

Bikes for All aims to reduce inequalities in access to cycling through the provision of low-cost bike hire alongside focused support. A subsidised annual membership to the city’s bike hire scheme, nextbike Glasgow, together with one-to-one advice, group rides, route-finding tips and road skills, have been successful at breaking down known barriers to cycling such as inexperience, lack of confidence and low income.


The new report highlights the impact the Bikes for All project has had.


Bikes For All 2020 Report (pdf)


Electric Bikes


Electric bikes can improve air quality through ultra-low emission commuting, support healthy lifestyles, and open access to opportunities. They can achieve this by attracting a wider range of people cycling and increasing the number of trips people can make by bike.


• Electric bikes can attract new riders: one in three of the people using the Shared Electric Bike Programme bikes had rarely or never cycled before they started using the shared electric bikes


• Electric bikes can improve health and well-being: regular riders reported that when riding an electric bike, 58% felt happier and 41% felt healthier


• Electric bikes can enable new types of utility cycling trips: the average length of trips switched is 5 miles, compared to 3 miles by traditional bikes


• Electric bikes can reduce car use: In one commuter scheme 46% of regular shared electric bike trips were previously made by private car as a passenger, driver or in a taxi


• 2,667 participants made 11,702 journeys travelling 27,431 miles





Electric Bikes: A summary of existing research


Electric bikes are becoming an increasingly popular way to get around. Electric bike (sometimes known as Pedelecs) are defined as cycles using power to assist pedalling. On the continent their popularity is seen amongst all sectors of society and particularly amongst those taking up or returning to cycling. They are seen a valuable tool for:


• encouraging those who feel less confident about their fitness to cycle


• travelling further


• cycling in hilly areas


• cycling without getting too tired or sweaty

Electric Bikes and Carbon emissions

A European Cyclist Federation study concluded that after factoring in CO2 emissions produced during electricity generation, an e-bike’s carbon footprint is just 2.6-5 grams of CO2 per mile (depending on the source of the electricity), compared to 150 grams for most electric cars and 136 grams for scooters.


As well as saving on carbon, switching to an e-bike has indirect benefits as well, the biggest environmental contribution that the e-bike could make is as a replacement of the private car. Of the millions of car journeys people do, 50 per cent are under three miles which are ideal for ebikes.

See the ECF full report (PDF)

Cycle boom: Ebike users experience increased health and well being

The research of people older than 50 trialling electric bikes shows that many of the participants who have been loaned an ebike have experienced increased psychological wellbeing, fitness and cognitive ability. The majority of the participants have indicated they will continue to cycle and some hope to buy an ebike themselves.


“The e-bike trial has been very interesting. The e-bike is really good – practical personal transport with a bit of exercise. Lost 5kg over the 8 weeks.”


“Overall have really enjoyed the e-bike and getting back my confidence of cycling. Have avoided really busy roads as much as possible with pre-planning routes and exploring. I’ve returned to being a cyclist and will keep pedalling!”


“Pleasant to go out … cycling with my husband. He said how hard it was to keep up with me on the uphill bits.”


“Cycling felt very liberating.”


We have nearly completed all data collection with participants of the e-bike and pedal cycle trial, and we plan to report the full results during the first quarter of 2016.


Read the final report (PDF)     Read the academic journal

Read the Cycle Boom publicity materials

Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics study indicates electric bikes increases frequency of cycling

This study identifies dramatic changes in cycling habits with the introduction of the electric bike.


The research showed that women increased the number of trips they used the bike for and that men travelled longer distances. According to Aslak Fyhri who worked with 66 existing cyclists in Oslo found women increased their number of trips from an average of 0.9 to 1.4 trips. Whereas the average length of the trips the male participants completed was doubled from 4.8 to 10.3 kilometres.


Overall the group increased the percentage of their cycling trips from around a quarter to nearly half compared to a control group.

Read more

Dutch study indicates electric cycle users ride more often and for longer distances

A Dutch survey in 2008 (Electric Cycling: market research and exploration of prospects) amongst 1,448 e-bike users who identified the reasons for using an e-bike to be:


• Conventional cycling is too difficult (66%);


• To make cycling with a headwind easier (52%);


• To make it easier to cycle longer distances (46%);


• To make it easier to go up hills (29%);


• To get some more exercise (17%);


• To cycle faster (11%);


• As an alternative to less environmentally-friendly means (10%);


• To get to work without sweating (8%)


According to the study, on a weekly basis pedelecs cover, for all purposes, on average 22% more kilometres than normal bicycles.


For commuters, this difference extends to 75%. The reason for that might be that a majority of commuters (51%) started to commute by bicycle more often since they bought a pedelec.


The use of a pedelec also influences the use of other modes of transport. Pedelecs most often are a substitute for the bicycle (45%) or the car (39%) (TNO, Elektrisch fietsen, Marktonderzoek en verkenning toekomstmogelijkheden, 2008)

The Go Pedelec project

The Go Pedelec project encouraged new users of e-bikes through a series of test rides (Daggers et al, 2012).


The aim of the test rides was to change awareness and attitudes towards e-bikes. Across the project (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Hungary and the Netherlands) 20 roadshows were held with over 10,000 participants.


On average 18% of ebike test riders showed a willingness to purchase, after their test ride. Of those who participated 2.5% already owned an e-bike, while 28% had not heard of the technology.


Go Pedelec! handbook

Sales of electric bikes

According to Navigant Research (2014) are expected to grow from nearly 32 million in 2014 to over 40 million in 2023. China is the lead market (although their definition includes bikes which don’t require always pedalling), followed by Western Europe with increasing sales in the USA.


In France the number of electric bikes purchased increased by 37% comparing 2014 to 2013, Netherlands this figure increased by 16% electric and Germany 17%, (European Cycling Federation).

Smart e-bikes project suggests electric bikes can widen the appeal of cycling

The Smart ebike project in Brighton has shown that people given access to an electric bike for a trial period indicated that it increased their likelihood to cycle in the future. However the higher price currently put them off buying one themselves.


• 70% of participants said they would cycle more if they could access an ebike


• Car mileage dropped by 20% by the group (sample >100)


• 59% of group reported an increase in their physical activity


• The project found the ebikes were popular with groups less likely to be cyclists –eg women and older people


• It also found that the majority of people would like to carry on using an ebike but that price is a major barrier leading for the need to provide better access.


The participants reported that their likelihood to continue cycling was much higher if they could have continued to use an electric bike than if they had access to a normal cycle. They also said they would be much more likely to use the e bike if they could borrow a bike than pay for their own.


Project team:


• Frauke Behrendt (lead), Chris Kiefer, University of Brighton


• Sally Cairns, Clare Beaumont, Marcus Jones, TRL


• David Raffo, University of Ulster

Berlin electric bike loan study

324 commuters were lent electric bikes over an 8 week trial period resulting in a significant modal shift.


Participants were recruited through employers. 18% of participants went on to a purchase an electric bike after the trial, a further 36% were considering purchasing one.


The project achieved approximately 50% modal shift of car commuter trips for distances of 5 – 15km when an electric bike was available. Unsurprisingly an important criteria identified to encourage use was secure parking arrangements at home and at the destination.

Health Benefits

The research project ‘Electric bicycles as a new active transportation modality to promote health’ studied electric bike usage in hilly cities to understand the difference they made to commute comfortably for sedentary lifestyles.


The method involved sedentary subjects performing four different trips at a self-selected pace: walking 1.7 km uphill from the train station to the hospital (WALK), biking 5.1 km from the lower part of town to the hospital with a regular bike (BIKE), or EAB at two different power assistance settings (EAB high, EAB std). HR, oxygen consumption, and need to shower were recorded.


The study concluded that electric bikes are comfortable and ecological mode of transport, supporting sedentary people commute to work and increase their physical activity to meet guidelines. Participants appreciated the ease of use and mild effort needed to activate the assistance for climbing hills, without the need to shower at work.



PRO E-BIKE project

The PRO E-BIKE project provided several public authorities and private companies across Europe in Croatia, France, Sweden, Italy with subsidies for the trial of electric bikes and cargo bikes.


The result was that 4 out of 5 eBikes tested continued to be used after the trial period, and some companies bought many more.  In the Netherlands, each DHL express courier bike saves the company 13,000€ per year, applying their policy of replacing one delivery van with one cargobike.


In Milan (IT) GLS, Italy’s second largest delivery company, redesigned its whole business to make the most out of eBikes: they moved their logistics centre, they sold their motorised vehicles and bought cargobikes, they hired more people and optimised the delivery system to best fit bicycles.


“We opened a new logistics centre in downtown Milan, replaced 6 delivery vans with 9 bikes, and hired more staff for the extra vehicles. The result was increased deliveries, productivity and efficiency. Even though GLS hired more people to do the same work, we still save money” declared Mr Simone Vicentini, General Director of GLS Enterprise, Milan, Italy.


Read the PRO E-Bike summary


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