Globally, the need for more sustainable modes of transport is rising. One of the main contenders of the car is the electrical bike (e-bike). To promote the use of e-bikes, pilots are being organised worldwide (e.g. in the USA, Norway, and the Netherlands). Studies have shown that providing a free e-bike to people for a limited period of time changes their mode choice behaviour during the pilot period.
Only few studies have also investigated the long-term effects of these free e-bike trial periods, which show increase in e-bike use in general. However, these studies have failed to investigate why some participants of the trials change behaviour on the long-term, whereas others continued their former behaviour. This study aims to bridge this gap. A pilot with e-bikes was organised at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, with the goal of reducing car use for commuter trips towards the university. Data was collected at various moments during and after the trial period to evaluate the long-term changes in commuting behaviour and to identify potential reasons for these changes.
A total of 82 participants are included in this study. Overall, car use for commuting decreased from 88% before the pilot to 63% three months after the pilot. E-bike use went up from 2% to 18% in the same time period. A binary logistic regression model shows that the most important variables to explain the decrease in car use are 1) purchase of an e-bike, 2) the participant's perception regarding e-bike safety, and 3) the aim of the participant to use the pilot to change their current behaviour. Besides that, the most important predictor of increase in e-bike use is the purchase of an e-bike.
Furthermore, participants identify the investment costs of an e-bike as the strongest reason for not purchasing an e-bike and, thus, not changing their commuting behaviour. Future pilot programs could consider the potential of incrementally purchasing an e-bike over a longer period of time, instead of at once, to increase e-bike adoption rate.
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