Bicycles which are assisted by electric power could help towards reducing air pollution and also would help health issues by increasing physical activity according to research explained by the TRL Academy.
The organisation said that â€œElectrically-assisted bikes, or â€˜pedelecsâ€™, are those where pedalling is required but the rider can choose to switch on battery-powered assistance to reduce the effort required.
It explains that assistance cuts out when the rider stops pedalling or when the bike exceeds specified speed thresholds, as set out by legislation (25 km per hourÂ across Europe).
And, it is noted that while e-bikes are less environmentally friendly and require less physical activity than conventional bikes, â€œthe differences are small when compared with other forms of motorised transport, such as cars, and the activity required is still sufficient to count as at least â€˜moderate intensityâ€™ physical activity.â€
Trial results were reported from a scheme in Brighton where 80 employees were loaned an electrically-assisted bike for a 6-8 week period. This was accompanied by a review of the European literature available about other trials or surveys of those who have purchased e-bikes. In the Brighton trial, three-quarters of those loaned an e-bike used them at least once a week.
Across the sample as a whole, said TRL Academy, average usage was 15-20 miles per week and was accompanied by an average reduction in car mileage of 20%.
At the end of the trial, 38% participants expected to cycle more in the future and
at least 70% said that they would like to have an e-bike available for future use and would cycle more if this was the case.
This, said TRL, is consistent with the results of a European literature review which showed that when made available, e-bikes get used. The organisation added: â€œIt also indicated that a proportion of e-bike trips typically substitutes for car use and that many people who take part in trials become interested in future e-bike use, or cycling more generally.â€
This research is based on a project funded by the UK Research Councils Digital Economy and Energy and was led by the University of Brighton, entitled â€˜Smart e-bikes: understanding how commuters and communities engage with electrically-assisted cyclingâ€™