Research highlights impact of e-bikes in cutting emissions

Electrically assisted bikes (e-bikes), if used to replace car travel, could cut car CO2 emissions in England by up to 50%, researchers from the University of Leeds have said.

On 18 May, researchers from the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS), claimed that e-bikes could cut carbon dioxide emissions from transport by up to 30mn tonnes per year. Even replacing just 20% of car miles travelled with e-bike travel each year would result in 4-8mn fewer tonnes of carbon being emitted.

The researchers said that the greatest impact on carbon emissions would come from e-bike use outside of urban centres, noting that in Denmark, e-bike routes are already linking cities to towns and villages. They added that e-bikes can help people to make longer journeys than conventional bicycles, offering new transport options to people living outside urban centres and a “safe and sustainable” route back to work as the UK moves out of its COVID-19 lockdown.

The research was led by Dr Ian Phillips, Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Transport Studies at Leeds, who stressed that the strategic potential of e-bikes as a mass transport option is something that has been overlooked by policymakers so far.

Phillips added: “The research began as a way to measure the potential carbon savings that e-bikes can offer, but as we emerge from the lockdown, e-bikes can be part of the solution to getting people safely mobile once again. We’re recommending that governments across the UK should find ways to incentivise e-bike use to replace car journeys. As well as lowering carbon emissions from transport, e-bikes have the potential to improve the mobility options for people and communities at risk of transport poverty.”

University of Leeds