Project idea database

Assessing the potential of disruptive life events to promote individual e-bike use in alpine areas

Specific objective
2.2 Increase options for low carbon mobility and transport
  • Innovation capacity and awareness- raising Multimodal transport New products and services Regional planning and development Rural and peripheral development Social inclusion and equal opportunities Tourism Transport and mobility Urban development
Date of submission
10 Oct 2018
Last update
04 Dec 2018
Main objectives
This project seeks to identify the environmental, social and economic potential of e-bike use as a more environmentally friendly solution in alpine regions where congestion and reduced frequency of public transportation combine to create problems on road networks during high tourist seasons. The potential target users of the e-bikes are: local inhabitants and tourists. Key research questions include: What is the potential for e-bike adoption during trials occurring in disruptive novel (nonhabitual behaviour) moments? Who are the key actors influencing transport choice and patterns? What are the safety and climate considerations of using e-bikes in alpine areas? What are the modal patterns of tourists and local inhabitants in alpine areas and what car trips are replaceable by e-bike, or other electrified transportation? BACKGROUND Alpine areas often have restricted road networks, less frequent public transportation offers, and are a hotspot for tourism. Thus during summer and winter, traffic congestion is a common problem. Additionally, due to weather inversions in the winter, local air pollution can be held in valleys1. To reduce the need for more expansive roads, to reduce air pollution and to ease congestion on streets, e-bikes could be introduced into a region as an alternative transportation for both locals and tourists. As e-bike use is not yet wide spread, behavioural patterns and thus the environmental impact has not yet been fully uncovered. Recent research examining the impact of e-bike trial interventions has shown rapid and lasting adoption of e-bike use to replace car trips2. Importantly the relevance of an experiential trial appears to be a key driver in e-bike adoption and modal change even in the longterm3. Thus this highlights the potential of creating short-term trial interventions in novel moments, that is when people are acting outside of their habitual behaviours, wherein the experience of using an e-bike can be disruptive and integrated back into the daily routine. 1 Y. Largeron, C. Staquet, Persistent inversion dynamics and wintertime PM10air pollution in Alpine valleys, Atmos. Environ. 135 (2016) 92–108. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.03.045. 2 A. Fyhri, N. Fearnley, Effects of e-bikes on bicycle use and mode share, Transp. Res. Part D Transp. Environ. 36 (2015) 45–52. doi:10.1016/j.trd.2015.02.005. 3 C. Moser, Y. Blumer, S.L. Hille, E-bike trials’ potential to promote sustained changes in car owners mobility habits, Environ. Res. Lett. 13 (2018). doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aaad73.
Description of activities
This project is interested in implementing e-bike trials in alpine regions where car congestion is particularly problematic. Target audiences would be both local inhabitants and transient tourists. Novel moments for local inhabitants could be: children school holidays where an e-bike is provided to families, an e-bike can replace a car when a driver’s license is revoked for a short time, etc. For tourist-rich regions, the holiday itself could be a novel moment where: an e-bike is part of a hotel package, a car-free city has e-bikes available for shared use, luggage and sport material transport is arranged with e-cargo bikes, etc.
Envisaged outcomes
Implemented in multiple cities (in potentially different ways) for contextual comparison, user behaviour prior, during and after the experiential trial will be tracked in order to understand the user experience of e-bikes. This includes both the challenges and added-benefits, such as improving the attractiveness of a region due to e-bike innovativeness, increased acceptance due to use of local hydropower electricity, increase in jobs, etc. Additionally, the offset car use (and thus the CO2 savings), the changes in modal patterns, and the appropriateness of the technology will be monitored.
Partners found
  • Eliante is an independent charity working to promote environmental sustainability and to raise awareness about efficient use of natural resources through innovative education and communication approaches. Eliante’s approach is to design consumer-centred educational paths aiming at triggering behavioural changes leading to long-lasting resource savings. Eliante has been working on these issues since 2002 and has participated in several European projects within the Leonardo da Vinci and Intelligent Energy programmes. Eliante is presently in charge of implementing at national level the actions of two Horizon 2020 projects that set up web-based information platforms encouraging consumers to purchase super-efficient appliances, as well as promoting EU policies about energy efficiency of products.
Partners wanted in the following countries
  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Switzerland
Partners wanted from the following institutions
  • Local public authority
  • Infrastructure and (public) service provider
  • Higher education and research
  • Education/training centre and school
  • SME
Comments on partners wanted
  • We are looking for research partners to implement the trials, as well as on-the-ground partners (such as tourist offices, local authorities or transportation departments) to help access the end users. Additionally we are looking for an e-bike supplier in each country or one that can cover all.

Contact details

Devon, Wemyss
Research Associate, Zurich University of Applied Sciences