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E-bikes in the Mainstream: Reviewing a Decade of Research

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Electric bicycles (e-bikes) represent one of the fastest growing segments of the transport market. Over 31 million e-bikes were sold in 2012. Research has followed this growth and this paper provides a synthesis of the most pertinent themes emerging over the past on the burgeoning topic of e-bikes. The focus is transport rather than recreational e-bike research, as well as the most critical research gaps requiring attention. China leads the world in e-bike sales, followed by the Netherlands and Germany. E-bikes can maintain speed with less effort. E-bikes are found to increase bicycle usage. E-bikes have the potential to displace conventional motorised (internal combustion) modes, but there are open questions about their role in displacing traditional bicycles. E-bikes have been shown to provide health benefits and an order of magnitude less carbon dioxide than a car travelling the same distance. Safety issues have emerged as a policy issue in several jurisdictions and e-bike numbers are now approaching levels in which adequate safety data are able to be collected. Research on e-bikes is still in its infancy. As e-bike usage continues to grow, so too will the need for further research, in order to provide the necessary data to inform policy-makers and industry.
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Keywords: developing countries; e-bikes; environment; safety; transport and society

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Sensible Transport, Suite 13/39 Park Crescent, Fairfield, Melbourne, Victoria, 3078, Australia 2: Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, 321 JD Tickle Bldg, Knoxville, TN, 37996-2313, USA

Publication date: January 2, 2016

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