Electric bikes could enable a seven percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. For this to happen, Americans will need to replace many short car trips and commutes with e-bike trips.
“Most urban trips are less than 5 kilometers [about 3.1 miles]; a short enough distance that it can be traveled by e-bikes and e-scooters in roughly the same amount of time as personal vehicles,” according to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), a New York-based cycling and alternative transportation advocacy group.
“Thanks to the boost in speed from electricity, these devices can cover more ground faster than traditional, non-electric bikes and scooters. Replacing cars presents significant climate benefits: if the mode share for e-bikes rises to 11 percent, we could see a 7-percent decrease in CO2 emissions from the urban transport sector by 2030, which is equivalent to taking 134 million cars off the road. Up to 50 percent of short-distance car trips in US cities, and up to 70 percent in UK cities, could be replaced by electric micromobility modes,” again according to the ITDP.
What Cities Can Do
The ITDP comments accompanied the release of a new informational graphic that outlines five steps city leaders can take to help encourage electric bike and e-scooter use. Here are the ITDP recommendations.
- Legalize electric bikes and scooters. Before there can be a significant increase in the number of electric bike and scooter trips, these modes of transportation must be legal. City administrators should regulate e-bikes like bicycles so that no license or insurance is required.
- Set speed limits and clearly mark lanes. The ITDP believes there should be standard speed limits and clearly marked bicycle and scooter paths.
- Design for micromobility. “Ensure cycle lanes are protected and form a complete network, safely accommodating low-speed e-bike and e-scooter riders in addition to pedal cyclists.”
- Manage bike and scooter sharing. E-bike ownership is important, but there should be ride sharing too. City leaders should work with electric bike and e-scooter sharing companies to ensure scooters and bikes are parked safely.
- Monitor to measure and improve. City leaders should monitor how many electric bike trips, e-scooter trips, and even automobile trips are being taken. As new programs and policies are tested or implemented the results should be measured to further improve transportation and reduce carbon emissions.
- E-Bikes & E-Scooters: Drivers of Climate Action,
- The Potential for Dramatically Increasing Bicycle and E-bike Use in Cities Around the World, with Estimated Energy, CO2, and Cost Impacts,
- ITDP: e-bikes and e-scooters are climate action,
- The Complete Electric Bike Buyers Guide,
- The E-Bike Potential: Estimating the Effect of E-Bikes on Person Miles Travelled and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.