June 16, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA
Science And Technology

How electric bike programs are revolutionizing urban commuting

Amid growing environmental challenges and congested urban centres, there is increasing focus on transitioning mobility towards more sustainable travel options. Among them, electric bicycles (e-bikes) present a promising alternative, which combines the benefits of moderate physical exercise with reduced travel times and environmental impact. A recent study conducted in Noord-Brabant, Netherlands, explores how e-bike incentive programs can help transform commuter intentions into consistent e-bike behaviors.

The study, led by Dr. Joost de Kruijf and his team from Utrecht University, including Dr. Dea van Lierop and Professor Dick Ettema, together with their collaborators Dr. Maarten Kroesen from Delft University of Technology and the Professor Martin Dijst of the Luxembourg Institute of Sociology. Economic Research (LISER), focused on participants in an e-bike incentive program that rewarded commuters for switching from car trips to e-bikes. This research was published in the Journal of Cycling and Micromobility Research.

Dr. Joost de Kruijf shared his thoughts on the importance of understanding the gap between what people pretend to do and what they actually do. “Overall, this study shows that the incentive program has a positive impact on participants' switching to e-cycling during the incentive program,” he said. The research used a detailed survey conducted at three different points in time to capture changes over time, providing detailed insight into how people's initial plans translated into actual e-bike riding habits.

The results of the study showed that a significant number of participants, around two-thirds, stuck closely to their initial plans and used the e-bike as frequently as they had planned when they started the program. Dr de Kruijf noted: “People who already commuted to work by regular bike before starting the program were more likely to stick with their e-bike plans.” This highlights how existing habits influence the adoption of new commuting practices. Overall, participants increased their use of e-bikes over time due to increased fitness and attractiveness.

Additionally, the study revealed that, surprisingly, personal beliefs, habits, and goals did not significantly influence how consistently people's intentions matched their behaviors. Dr. de Kruijf noted: “Our results also show that personal beliefs, habits and goal-related variables do not influence the consistency with which the intentions and behavior of people already enrolled in such a program match.” of incentives”. This finding challenges some traditional behavioral science ideas and suggests that the direct benefits of e-biking, such as convenience and immediate benefits, and incentives may be more influential in shaping commuting choices.

Furthermore, the research highlighted that the incentive program had a notable positive effect, motivating participants to continue using e-bikes even after completing the program. This suggests that well-designed incentive programs can effectively promote lasting changes in travel habits by successfully closing the gap between intention and action.

These insights contribute significantly to our understanding of transportation behavior change and highlight the potential for targeted programs to encourage more sustainable urban transportation options. Policymakers and urban planners can use these findings to design more effective e-cycling programs that encourage a shift away from car dependence, thereby reducing urban congestion and lessening environmental impact.

Magazine references

Joost de Kruijf, Dea van Lierop, Dick Ettema, Maarten Kroesen, Martin Dijst, “E-Cycling Intention Versus Behavior Change: Investigating Longitudinal Changes in E-Cycling Intention and Actual Commuting Behavior Change,” Journal of Cycling and Micromobility Research, 2024. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcmr.2023.100009

About the Author

Joost de Kruijf He was born in August 1976 in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. She received her bachelor's degree in Transportation Engineering in 1999 from the Breda University of Applied Sciences. After that, he started his master's degree in Urban Geography at Utrecht University and graduated in 2002. In parallel, Joost began his career as a specialist in traffic forecasting models in 1999, helping the government to anticipate the impact of mobility future.

In 2011, Joost moved to the Breda University of Applied Sciences to focus more on research and innovation in the field of transportation and the built environment. At that time, he began his doctoral research at the department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning at Utrecht University.

Most of his research focuses on data-driven policy (cycling) and business improvement, including topics such as accessibility, user experience, network planning and digital twinning. In his current work, Joost focuses on establishing strong connections between science, government and industry in the field of mobility, the built environment and data solutions.

His works are published in a variety of international peer-reviewed journals, including Transportation Research part A, Travel Behavior and Society, Journal of Transport and Health, Transportation Research Procedia, Landscape and Urban Planning, Journal of Transport Geography, and Computers, Environment and. Urban Systems.

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