These are the conclusions of a new TNO (A Dutch technical research organisation) evaluation study in which commuters participating in a project in North Brabant were rewarded for using e-bikes to commute to work.
In order to qualify for this project, participants had to live at least 5 kilometres from work and had to be willing to forsake their normal habit of commuting by car. Participants registered bike usage by means an online ride registration system. They also completed a questionnaire before acquisition of the e-bike as well as 3 and 12 months afterwards.
From the registration database it could be seen that participation in the project led to a significant use of the electric bike for commuting in the period immediately after the purchase as well over the long-term. Three months after the start of the project, 94% of the participants were commuting to work with the e-bike, and after a year, 90% of them were still doing so. The average distance from home to work was 14 kilometres and the average commute frequency was 2.7 days per week. This is a much greater distance than the 4 kilometres commuting distance ridden with a regular bike, and also more than the 9.8 kilometres established earlier for e-bike commuters. Even so, when the cyclists were asked what would be an acceptable one-way commuting distance on an e-bike, their answer was 18.9 kilometres. The average one-way cycling time increased by 10 minutes for participants who mostly used the e-bike to commute.
Reasons given for not cycling included “I do not wish to arrive at work feeling sweaty”, “there is free car parking anyway”, “I don't like getting wet”. Other reasons for not cycling by e-bike hardly played a role: the lack of good cycling routes, being offered a lease car, a physical disability, having to bring to children to the day care, and the e-bike's image. In addition to commuting, the e-bike was also used by 33% of participants for recreational purposes and by 45% to do the shopping.
The health of e-bikers had markedly improved. The percentage of e-bikers that observed the recommendations or norms for daily exercise increased steeply from 47% to 93%. Participants felt fitter than before the time they cycled to work (however this did not result in any slimming). TNO concluded that giving rewards for commuting by e-bike yielded positive results regarding the mobility and health of commuters.