Incentive Spikes E-bike Usage 
Photo By Ed Murray

Incentive Spikes E-bike Usage 

The City of Oslo, Norway, saw a nearly 13 percent increase in electric bicycle (e-bike) use after offering residents a significant incentive, according to a new study.

While e-bikes require less physical exertion than traditional bicycles, their increased use does not lead to a significant decrease in physical activity in other areas, according to the study, "The effects of subsidising e-bikes on mode share and physical activity – A natural experiment,” by Hanne Beate SundfØr, Sveinung Berntsen, Elling Tufte Bere, and Aslak Fyhri. The 13-page study will be published in the Journal of Transport & Health in March.

While the program resulted in an overall increase in cycling and active transportation, the study’s authors concluded that more research with more precise measurements is needed to evaluate the impact on overall physical activity.

The Oslo City Council offered incentives covering half the cost of an e-bike, a maximum of 5,000 Krone (about $475 U.S.). The study examined the third round of incentives, which were awarded in 2020. Of the 14,581 people who applied, 1,100 were awarded subsidies. Participants were asked to estimate the total time spent traveling via various modes over a one-week period.

The incentives had a “positive impact on cycling behavior among the intervention group,” according to the study, with an increase in both distance traveled and share of cycling as a mode of transport. The rise in e-bike use for daily travel was accompanied by a decrease in conventional cycling and walking, however, the study found an overall increase in minutes from active transportation.