National Electric Bike Owner Survey

John MacArthur, Portland State University



Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are a growing class of bicycles in North America but there has been little research on e-bikes in the United States, especially on the people that have purchased e-bikes. Portland State University (PSU) conducted the first known survey of e-bike owners in North America in 2013. The research aimed in part to understand if e-bikes can reduce barriers to bicycling, including trip distance, topography, time, and rider effort. By reducing these barriers, we could realize more bike trips and longer bike trips and an increase in the diversity of people cycling, including people with a disability or chronic injury. To address these aims, PSU conducted an online survey of existing e-bike users on their purchase decisions and usage. Responses from 553 e-bike users across North America were analyzed. Results suggested that e-bikes are enabling users to bike more often, to more distant locations, and to carry more cargo with them. Additionally, results show e-bikes allow people who would otherwise not be able to bike because of physical limitations or proximity to locations, the ability to bike with electric assist. The results of the survey were published in TRR (MacArthur et al., 2014). The survey was distributed through e-bike blogs and forums, Facebook pages, Twitter, e-mails to manufacturers and retailers, and via postcards to local bicycle shops in the Portland region. Though 553 e-bike users answered the survey, we know this is a small fraction of the total owners in North America and didn’t intend to represent a random sample. In addition, a majority of the respondents were older males with higher than average incomes. One of the drawbacks to the survey was how the survey was administered. Researchers didn’t have direct access to e-bike purchasers from dealers’ or manufacturers’ mailing lists. Researchers from PSU and the University of Tennessee would like to administer another survey to e-bike owners. We feel 2016 is an ideal time to administer this survey because of the growth in sales over the last couple years and the opportunity to connect to a boarder demographic. For the project, we will be teaming with the e-bike industry through relationships with the Bicycle Products Suppliers Association (BPSA), industry leaders and PeopleforBikes to help get the survey out to as many people as possible. The primary objective of this study is to gain a better understanding of the factors that influence purchase and use of e-bikes from existing users. Secondary objectives will explore feedback on how the bicycle owners are currently using and what features they like and dislike and what they might want in future models.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
December 31,2017
UTC Grant Cycle:
Natl Round 3
UTC Funding: