A More Sustainable Minivan? An Exploratory Study of Electric Bicycle Use by San Francisco Bay Area Families
Electric bikes are a relatively new transportation mode in the United States, and studies on e-bikes in the US have found that they can be used as a substitution for car trips and can be part of a healthy lifestyle. While some of these studies have identified e-bikes as potential transporters of children, currently no studies have focused on family travel. This study focuses on family users of electric bikes, including electrified cargo bikes to learn how e-bikes are substituted for a family car. Through semi-structured interviews of 20 San Francisco Bay Area e-bicyclists, this study sought to understand who family e-bike users are, their motivations for purchasing an e-bike, and the challenges they encounter. While larger studies are still needed, findings suggest that e-bikes, including electrified cargo bikes, are a viable alternative for cyclists with children. This study also supports previous research findings on travel behavior that the arrival of children does not always result in the end of biking. Major challenges participants identified were price, parking, and perceptions. Recommendations to address these issues include providing subsidies to offset costs, increasing parking infrastructure to accommodate diverse bicycle types, and disseminating more information on electric bikes to overcome misconceptions and to provide parents with an alternative to cars.