Impacts of e-bike ownership on travel behavior: Evidence from three northern California rebate programs

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Abstract

E-bike incentive programs are being utilized across the United States to encourage the adoption of active modes of travel. This study assesses the impacts of three e-bike rebate programs in Northern California using data from surveys of rebate recipients. We answer three research questions: how has e-bike ownership impacted the mode choices, trip purpose, and travel frequency of new adopters?; how much do e-bike rebate recipients reduce their transportation-related GHG emissions?; how did the design of each program impact who was able to participate and the program outcomes? The analysis reveals changes in travel behavior and the replacement of car travel, as well as variation in outcomes by program design. E-bike recipients reported more regular bike use after getting their e-bike, although their frequency of bicycle use declined over time. Most respondents also reported replacing car trips with their e-bikes somewhat regularly (1–3 times per week and 1–3 times per month). However, many of these same respondents reported that they used their e-bikes most often for recreational travel. We estimated a monthly reduction of 12–44 kg of CO2 per rebate participant, similar to the GHG emissions reductions observed in past studies. The program with the larger rebate and stronger low-income requirements successfully reached those most in need of financial assistance (as self-reported). However, those requirements did not reach a diverse recipient pool by other metrics (e.g., gender, race).

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Johnson, N., Fitch-Polse, D. T., & Handy, S. L. (2023). Impacts of e-bike ownership on travel behavior: Evidence from three northern California rebate programs. Transport Policy, 140, 163–174. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tranpol.2023.06.014

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