Are e-bikes easy?
Researchers want to know the pros and cons of power-assisted cycling.
Fifty watts may not seem like much, but it’s helped shine a light on a surge in electric bicycle use in Australia.
A regulation change in 2012 that increased the power output from 200 Watts to 250 Watts brought Australia into line with the European regulations, meaning a broader range of e-bikes became available. Sales rose dramatically.
E-bikes have enabled more people to cycle, due to the way they assist the rider’s pedalling via a small electric motor. Some people may have stopped cycling because of injury or ill-health, while some may have never ridden because they live in a hilly area or are not fit enough to ride.
Researchers at Monash University want to know more about e-bikes and people’s attitudes, both riders and non-riders.
Dr Marilyn Johnson from the university’s Institute of Transport Studies says: “We don’t know much about how people are using their e-bikes, their current safety concerns or what people would like to see changed to improve their e-bike experiences.
“We’re also interested in finding out what is stopping people getting on an e-bike, as they are a great way to increase regular physical activity.”
Dr Johnson and fellow researcher Professor Geoff Rose are regular cyclists and e-bikes have enhanced the experience.
“Electric bikes are definitely the most fun I’ve had riding a bike since I was a kid,” Dr Johnson says. “It feels like someone giving you a push that really makes a difference riding up hills.”
Professor Rose says: “They’re like stepping on an escalator.”
The Monash study is being supported by RACV’s Road Safety Research Fund. “Keeping all Victorians safe on the road is an important priority for us,” says Dave Jones, RACV’s manager of roads and traffic. “This study will give us insights into how RACV can support our members on their e-bikes and if there are any safety issues specific to an uptake in e-bikes.”