For governments and clean energy advocates looking to encourage people to use e-bikes for transportation, a new online tool from Portland State University researchers offers an overview of the existing incentive programs in the United States and Canada.

The E-Bike Incentive Programs in North America table tracks e-bike purchase incentive programs and key details that can provide a point of reference for the development of future e-bike incentive programs and policies, or for further research on the topic. Read a recent article about the tool in BikePortland.

John MacArthur, researcher at PSU's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC), led the development of the tool with the help of PSU transportation engineering masters student Cameron Bennett, a 2021 Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellow.

COMPARING TYPES OF E-BIKE INCENTIVE PROGRAMS

While the tracker shows a wide variety of approaches, Bennett identified Saanich, BC as demonstrating an especially...

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Principal Investigators: John MacArthur, Portland State University; and Christopher Cherry, University of Tennessee
Learn more about this education project by viewing the Executive Summary and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

If more drivers switched seats to a bicycle, there would be immediate and tangible benefits on the road. Widespread adoption of bike commuting could improve public health through increased physical activity and reduced carbon emissions, as well as ease the burden on congested roads. However different lifestyle demands, physical ableness, and varied topography create an unequal playing field that prevents many from replacing their car trips.

Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are a relatively new mode of transportation that could bridge this gap. If substituted for car use, e-bikes could substantially improve efficiency in the transportation system while creating a more inclusive biking culture for people of all ages and abilities.

A newly published NITC study by John MacArthur of...

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Evaluation of Electric Bike Use at Three Kaiser Permanente NW Employment Centers in Portland Metro Region
John MacArthur, Portland State University; Jennifer Dill, Portland State University

Despite efforts to get more people biking, North America still has low ridership numbers. The problem? Biking is hard.

A new report by John MacArthur of Portland State University's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC), funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communtiies, offers a solution to that problem: e-bikes. 

Many people surveyed say that having to pedal up hills and arriving at their destination sweaty are major deterrents to commuting by bike, even when bike lanes and other facilities are there.

Researchers have put a lot of thought into ways to get more people riding bicycles by improving bicycle infrastructure, land use and public engagement. The efforts are largely due to concerns about congestion, climate change and public health. Comparatively little research, however, has focused on the bicycle itself.

MacArthur and co-investigator...

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In 2009, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed the Copenhagen Wheel, a device that converts an ordinary bicycle into a hybrid e-bike.

An e-bike is considered a motorized bicycle under Massachusetts law. This means that once the 13-pound, 26-inch Copenhagen Wheel is attached to the rear wheel of a bicycle, the resulting vehicle requires a driver’s license to operate, must be registered with the DMV, and its rider must wear, not just a bike helmet, but a motorcycle helmet to be in compliance with the law.

Electric bicycles, or e-bikes, are well established in China and other Asian and European countries but market adoption has been slow in the United States.

Part of the reason could be that the law is often nebulous where e-bikes are concerned.

NITC researchers at Portland State University conducted a policy review revealing the current state of legislation regarding e-bikes in the United States and Canada.

The report, Regulations of E-Bikes in North America, provides a summary of legal definitions and requirements surrounding the use of electric-assist bicycles in each of the 50 states, Washington D.C. and 13 Canadian provinces.

No two jurisdictions are exactly alike in their legal treatment of this relatively new mode...

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The executive committee of the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, or NITC, program has selected a third round of research, education, and technology transfer projects for funding. This grant is part of the University Transportation Center (UTC) program funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Research and Technology, and is a partnership between Portland State University, the University of Oregon, the Oregon Institute of Technology, and the University of Utah. The committee chose eight projects, totaling $800,000, under the NITC theme of safe, healthy and sustainable transportation to foster livable communities. 
 
The projects are national in scope and support innovations in priority areas including public transit and active transportation. 
 
Projects selected include:
  • An analysis of the effects of commuter rail on population deconcentration.
  • A look into prioritizing pedestrians at signalized intersections.
  • A study of cyclist-vehicle interaction.
  • An evaluation of an eco-driving intervention.
The eight projects were chosen from among 20 proposals with...
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Bicycle and pedestrian safety has emerged as a top priority for U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and the Department of Transportation. With this in mind, the department’s top research official visited Portland State University, home to the U.S. DOT-designated national center for livable communities.

Greg Winfree, the assistant secretary for research and technology, visited Portland State’s transportation research and education center June 13. Center Director Jennifer Dill and researcher Christopher Monsere gave Winfree a tour of the center’s living laboratory: Portland’s active transportation infrastructure.

Winfree, an advocate for improving safety for vulnerable road users, explored the city’s various bicycle safety efforts, including bike boulevards, protected bike lanes, bike boxes, bike-specific signals and signage. He also learned of pedestrian research involving traffic signals, crossings and modeling

The tour highlighted research projects funded through U.S. DOT’...

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The NITC program's executive committee has selected a new roster of projects for funding under the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, or NITC, program. The committee chose 10 projects, totaling $900,000, under the NITC theme of safe, healthy and sustainable transportation to foster livable communities.

The projects are national in scope and reflect priority areas including transit supply and outcomes, and pedestrian and bicyclist behavior. 

Projects selected include:

  • A bicycle and pedestrian miles traveled project for Washington state.
  • A study that measures the effectiveness on social media on advancing public transit.
  • A look into crowdsourcing the collection of data on transportation behavior.
  • A national study of Bus Rapid Transit outcomes.
The 10 projects were chosen from among 25 proposals with a total request of nearly $2.25 million. 

A complete list of projects and principal investigators is below:

  1. National Study of BRT Development Outcomes: Arthur Nelson and Joanna Ganning, University of Utah
  2. Crowdsourcing the Collection of Transportation Behavior Data: Christopher Bone, Ken Kato and Marc Schlossberg,...
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OTREC at Portland State University welcomed Eva Heinen of the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, for a special seminar June 18. Around 40 people attended the presentation, held at the Intelligent Transportation Systems Laboratory and titled “Cycling in the Netherlands and Multi-Modality.”

Eva Heinen is assistant professor of infrastructure planning and mobility at the Department of Spatial Planning and Environment, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen. She earned a Ph.D. from Delft University of Technology in 2011 focusing on bicycle commuting.

Many people in Groningen and The Netherlands as a whole combine transit and bicycling for trips. A typical configuration involves cycling from home to a train station and then renting another bicycle to reach the final destination, Heinen said.

Few people take bicycles on transit, Heinen said, and buses don’t offer bike racks or other accommodations. Folding bikes, whose compact size allows for portability, are one exception, Heinen said. Electric-assist bikes are also popular, particularly with older people.

Heinen has published many papers on cycling in international and national journals and has a large international network in cycling. She spent three months at the University of California in Davis as a visiting scholar. She is a member of the editorial board of Rooilijn, a Dutch journal for science and policy in spatial planning; a member of the Bicycle Committee; co-chair of the...

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Even as Portland racks up bike-friendly honors, ongoing research at Portland State University is shedding light on a new travel option that promises to get even more people on two wheels. Electric-assist bikes, or e-bikes, could hold the key to increasing cycling, particularly among women, older adults and people with physical limitations.

Portland State researchers Jennifer Dill and John MacArthur are exploring people’s perceptions and attitudes toward e-bikes and evaluating their use to see if these bikes encourage new cyclists. This spring, they’re loaning out locally made, GPS-equipped e-bikes to 120 people to learn about people’s actual experience using the bikes, marking the first time such research has been done in the country. 

The research also includes a survey on e-bike use, which will help others understand the potential market. People who have ridden e-bikes can participate in this research by taking the survey at tinyurl.com/e-bike-survey.

E-bike use is increasing in North America, with many people switching from private cars and others using e-bikes to keep cycling as they age or after an injury. Increased use brings increased scrutiny, and efforts are already underway to limit where e-bikes can go and who can ride them. Many states require e-bike riders be licensed, set age limits or both.

Some local regulations prohibit e-bikes on bicycle and pedestrian paths. The city of Toronto,...

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OTREC research associate John MacArthur, in partnership with Drive Oregon, has been awarded a grant from Metro.

The grant is part of a $2.1 million effort by Metro to improve air quality and community health.

With the Metro grant, Drive Oregon and MacArthur plan to conduct a study of consumer perception and use of electric bicycles, pedal-bikes that provide extra propulsion from a rechargeable battery.

The idea is to see whether having the use of an e-bike will persuade non-bicycle-commuters to use a bike for the “first and last mile” of their daily commute; for example, to get from their workplace to the nearest MAX light rail station.

The e-bikes provided in the study will be foldable for convenient carrying onto the train. Ultimately, the partners of this study hope to increase the percentage of people who commute by bicycle and light rail, thus contributing to overall community health by reducing automobile emissions.

30 e-bikes will be loaned to 180 employees of Kaiser Permanente, at three designated work locations. Each participant will have the free use of an e-bike for one month, bookended by surveys about their expectations and perceptions of the experience.

MacArthur is conducting some overlapping research into e-bike use in a related OTREC...

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