How E-Bikes Could Change Cities

By January 15, 2017 No Comments

Sara Edge, assistant professor with Ryerson’s geography and environmental studies department, is currently conducting a study on electric bikes. Along with Master’s candidate Joshua Goodfield, she’s examining how e-bikes could make urban transportation more sustainable.

What are you investigating?

In this study we are focusing on the emerging technology of e-bikes, and their potential for facilitating societal transition towards more sustainable urban transportation systems. Specifically, we are examining different governance stakeholders that have influence over how transportation behaviour and infrastructure is changing in the city and documenting perceived risks, benefits, and challenges of integrating e-bikes into Toronto’s crowded transportation system.

What’s the significance of this study?
The adverse impacts of automobiles are well documented. And the transportation sector is Canada’s second largest source of greenhouse gases. E-bikes, propelled by human muscle and fitted with an electric motor, are particularly promising in encouraging a shift away from cars. In China and parts of Europe, e-bikes are revolutionizing personal transportation. However, little is known about their usage patterns and impacts within Canadian cities. E-bikes hold great potential in addressing Toronto’s biggest challenges, such as congestion, auto-related pollution, and mobility across the city. Based on their use and growth globally, e-bikes are important to study given their potential as a viable transportation alternative that can assist in making cities healthier and more sustainable places.

What do you hope this study will lead to?
Right now there is a dearth of knowledge on the potential social and environmental impacts of emerging e-bike technology, especially in Canadian cities. We’re hoping our results inform transportation reform, infrastructure planning, and resource investment decision-making processes. This pilot study will be finished by the summer of 2017.