UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Determinants of health outcomes in switching to electric bicycles Murphy, James Morgan


Electric bicycles have grown rapidly in popularity in recent years, but with little examination of their health effects. We explore their main health effects for different categories of riders in different contexts. Relative risks of mortality were calculated for people transitioning to electric bicycles from cars and bicycles, for 7.5km weekday commutes. Three health impact mechanisms were considered: collisions, air pollution, and physical exercise. Results were evaluated for women and men of different ages and riding style in urban Netherlands. The calculations were then applied to four other countries with significant contextual differences. Changes in exercise level dominated health outcomes in most cases. Even minimal pedaling exertion during commuting brought substantial health benefits. Collision risks were important for young riders relative to the low mortality hazards they otherwise face. Air pollution impacts were small except in the worst air quality case. The combined health effects indicated that scooter-style electric bicycles (SSEBs) were harmful in all cases, especially for young males. Bicycle-style e-bikes (BSEBs) were beneficial when displacing cars but harmful when displacing conventional bicycles. These findings led to three public policy implications. Policy should: a) encourage e-bike types that require some pedaling, b) limit maximum speed and power of e-bikes, and c) only support modal switches to e-bikes from less active forms of transportation.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International