E-bike user groups and substitution effects: evidence from longitudinal travel data in the Netherlands

In recent years, the e-bike has become increasingly popular in many European countries. With higher speeds and less effort needed, the e-bike is a promising mode of transport to many, and it is considered a good alternative for certain car trips by policy-makers and planners. A major limitation of many studies that investigate such substitution effects of the e-bike, is their reliance on cross-sectional data which do not allow an assessment of within-person travel mode changes.

As a consequence, there is currently no consensus about the e-bike’s potential to replace car trips. Furthermore, there has been little research focusing on heterogeneity among e-bike users. In this respect, it is likely that different groups exist that use the e-bike for different reasons (e.g. leisure vs commute travel), something which will also influence possible substitution patterns. This paper contributes to the literature in two ways: (1) it presents a statistical analysis to assess the extent to which e-bike trips are substituting trips by other travel modes based on longitudinal data; (2) it reveals different user groups among the e-bike population. A Random Intercept Cross-Lagged Panel Model is estimated using five waves of data from the Netherlands Mobility Panel. Furthermore, a Latent Class Analysis is performed using data from the Dutch national travel survey. Results show that, when using longitudinal data, the substitution effects between e-bike and the competing travel modes of car and public transport are not as significant as reported in earlier research. In general, e-bike trips only significantly reduce conventional bicycle trips in the Netherlands, which can be regarded an unwanted effect from a policy-viewpoint. For commuting, the e-bike also substitutes car trips. Furthermore, results show that there are five different user groups with their own distinct behaviour patterns and socio-demographic characteristics. They also show that groups that use the e-bike primarily for commuting or education are growing at a much higher rate than groups that mainly use the e-bike for leisure and shopping purposes.

Bron: de Haas, M., Kroesen, M., Chorus, C., Hoogendoorn-Lanser, S., & Hoogendoorn, S. (2021). E-bike user groups and substitution effects: evidence from longitudinal travel data in the Netherlands. Transportation.

Image credits

Icon image: Max Pixel - E-bike