Publication Detail

Impacts of E-bike Ownership on Travel Behavior: Evidence From Three Northern California Rebate Programs


Research Report

National Center for Sustainable Transportation, BicyclingPlus Research Collaborative

Suggested Citation:
Johnson, Nicholas, Dillon T. Fitch-Polse, Susan L. Handy (2023)

Impacts of E-bike Ownership on Travel Behavior: Evidence From Three Northern California Rebate Programs

. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-22-112

E-bike incentive programs are being utilized across the United States to encourage the adoption of active transportation. This study assesses the impacts of three e-bike rebate programs in Northern California using survey results gathered by each agency. Three research questions are answered through this study: “How has e-bike ownership impacted the mode choices, trip purpose, and travel frequency of our sample?”, “How much do e-bike rebate recipients reduce their mobile greenhouse gases (GHGs)?”, and “How did the design of each program impact who was able to participate and the program outcomes?”. To answer these, the research team merged and cleaned the survey data from the three programs, explored descriptive statistics, and undertook an estimation of GHG emissions reductions. This analysis highlighted changes in travel behavior, car travel replacement, the impact of program designs, and various equity impacts. E-bike recipients reported more regular bike use after getting their e-bike, although their frequency of bike travel began to decline in the long-term. Respondents also reported high rates of occasional car trip replacement (1-3 times per week and 1-3 times per month). The vast majority of e-bike use in the sample was for recreational travel. Although the GHG reductions analysis estimated a monthly diversion of 12-44 kilograms of CO2 per rebate participant. The authors conclude with an equity analysis that explores how program design influenced who participated in these rebate programs. This found that low-income requirements are successful at targeting those with the most need for financial assistance, though these requirements do not help meet other equity metrics by association.

Key words:

Bicycling behavior, e-bike, rebate, VMT