Electric-assist bicycles (e-bikes) have changed the bike riding environment around the world over the last decade. Yet, a common notion that e-bikes are “cheating” often means people overlook them and ultimately do not reap the benefits.

A recent paper published in the Transport Research: Interdisciplinary Perspectives Journal investigates the benefits of physical activity of e-bike riders compared to conventional push bike riders and non-cyclists in 7 European cities.

On average, e-bike riders were older than push bike riders (48.1 vs. 41.4 years old) and had higher BMI’s (24.8 vs. 23.8) but they also used their bike on average 1.5 days more a month and travelled an average of 2.7km more each trip. 

Compared to those who do not ride, e-bikes and push bike riders are, on average, 1 day more physically active weekly (4 days compared to 3).  Those who used an e-bike to replace cars and motorised public transport gained 550-880 Metabolic Equivalent Task (MET) minutes per week. E-bike riders overall have a slightly higher MET at 4464, compared to 4085 of push bike riders.

Interesting the top three reasons motivations for starting to use an e-bike were reduced physical effort (26%), to save time with faster trips (24%) and to undertake longer trips (24%).

“E-bikes help people ride further and more often, and they offer a real alternative to motor vehicle journeys for parents travelling with child passengers, and couriers transporting goods,” said Bicycle NSW Communications Manager, Kim Lavender.

“When e-bike journeys replace motor vehicle trips they help reduce road congestion and pollution, as well as keeping riders active and healthy,” said Kim.

Bicycle NSW encourages councils, schools, workplaces and government to consider the needs of e-bike riders when planning pathways, access points, bike storage and public transport connections.

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