E-bikes could slash transport emissions

(25 May 2020) A new briefing from CREDS researchers at the University of Leeds shows that e-bikes, if used to replace car travel, have the capability to cut car carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in England by up to 50%.

A recent study carried out by Ian Philips, Jillian Anable and Tim Chatterton at the University of Leeds has found that electrically-assisted bicycles (e-bikes) have the capability to cut car carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in England by up to 50% (about 30 million tonnes per year).

According to the resarchers, the greatest opportunities are in rural and sub-urban settings: city dwellers already have many low-carbon travel options, so the greatest impact would be on encouraging use outside urban areas. The study also highlights the scope for e-bikes to help people who are most affected by rising transport costs.

Why is that? E–bikes would help people make longer journeys than they can make by walking and cycling without them having to resort to the car, easing pressure on public transport whilst there are capacity restrictions and helping to stem the risk of a new wave of post-lock down car dependence.   

e-bikes could also help to cut the costs of travel in neighbourhoods characterised by vulnerability to the cost of increased car dependence where there is limited access to public transport and where many car journeys could be replaced.

The study recommends that e-bikes are defined as a strategically important mode of transport within key transport policy initiatives developed in 2020. e-bike use should be incorporated into the UK Transport Decarbonisation Plan, local government place-based carbon reduction programmes, organisational travel plans and in post-Covid initiatives to avoid increased car-dependence

The briefing is available through the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS).