Assessing the Market Potential of Electric Bicycles and ICT for Low Carbon School Travel: a Case Study in the Smart City of Águeda.

Assessing the Market Potential of Electric Bicycles and ICT for Low Carbon School Travel: a Case Study in the Smart City of Águeda.

Nominated for The Planning for Sustainable Land Use and Transport Award


Elisabete ARSENIO, LNEC, Joana V. Dias, Universidade de Lisboa, Sofia Azeredo Lopes, Universidade Nova de Lisboa


This study implemented in the smart city of Águeda in Portugal examined the willingness of secondary school students to use electric bikes in their daily trips to school and evaluated how ICT related attributes could influence their choices.


The European Commission Transport White Paper envisages that by 2050 only electric vehicles would circulate in cities, being the use of conventionally-fuelled vehicles halved by 2030. Greenhouse gas emission (GHG) from transport is expected to be reduced by 20% and 70%, respectively until 2030 and 2050 (with respect to 2008 levels). For this purpose, electric bikes (e-bikes) may help in the decarbonisation.
To fully assess the market potential of e-bikes, further research is needed to understand users’ preferences and the range of factors that can contribute towards a shift from cars to low carbon vehicles such as e-bikes. This paper in built on the Be4Schools R&D project implemented in the city of Águeda, a smart city in Portugal. It comprised the former study in the country that examined the willingness of students (aged 15 years old or more) to use e-bikes for daily trips to school and that gathered their preferences towards specific ICT related attributes. The study aimed to contribute to the regional economic cluster on powered two-wheels' industry & innovation.
The study included the participation of the City of Águeda, Public Schools in the municipally, students and their respective parents. The methodology comprised a mobility survey and a stated-choice experiment. The first part of the survey was designated as “Simplifying cycling mobility” and it aimed to understand students’ travel patterns to school regarding mode choice, previous cycling experience, perceptions of all relevant barriers for not cycling and to examine students’ preferences towards the future inclusion of ICT related attributes in bicycles. Part two of the survey was designated as “Assessing students and their parents’ preferences” which aimed to understand the preferred business models for e-bike use, bicycle design, including the most valued attributes of e-bikes and the preferred ICT equipments to be installed, thus accounting for household budget constraints. The stated-choice experiment gathered 2232 observations which were able to provide the relevant attribute tradeoff information between car travel and e-bike (with or without specific ICT equipment). An extensive econometric analysis was performed to assess the nature and extent of students’ heterogeneity of preferences which also considered gender issues.
Around 47% of the surveyed students travel to school by car (as a passenger). If major barriers are removed, 73,3% of students stated they are willing to shift to e-bikes. Perceived critical technical barriers to be addressed include the risk of accident, volume of motorized traffic within the city, speed of traffic and personal security. Research results are interesting for mobility policies and industry as the possible integration of ICT equipment in e-bikes may speed up the market uptake of this technology.


Association for European Transport