Even though the benefits of cycle commuting are well known, actually getting organized enough to do it can be a pain. You have to plan, carry extra gear, and often need to shower and change when you arrive at work. According to a new Norwegian study, these are a few of the main barriers keeping people from using bikes as a regular form of transportation. Electric bikes remove many of these barriers, the study found, allowing people to cycle in their normal work clothes without getting sweaty. Participants in the study cycled twice as many trips and twice as far when give unlimited access to an e-bike.
The study, conducted in Oslo and Askerhus, Norway, provided 66 people who already owned regular bikes with access to an e-bike for two to four weeks. Another 160 bicycle owners were used as a control group. The impact on the number of trips taken and the distance cycled was dramatic. Before they got the e-bikes, participants did 28% of their trips by bike; with the e-bikes that number went up to almost half of their trips, which amounted to 1.4 trips per day on average. Distance cycled went up from less than 3 miles per day to 6.4 miles.
While about a third of women and a quarter of men were willing to consider buying an e-bike, they were only willing to pay about $200 more for an electric bike. Of the people that wouldn’t consider an e-bike, the study found that they viewed electric bikes as a way to “cheat”. In Norway, bikes are used mostly for exercise, so electric bikes are viewed by many as a lazy alternative to a traditional pedal-powered machine.