E-Bikes' Effect On Mode And Route Choice: A Case Study Of Richmond, VA, Bikeshare (Collaborative Project)

Project Abstract

Bikesharing systems across the United States are embracing electric-assist bikes (e-bikes) in their fleet of docked and dockless bikes to address physical and mobility barriers to biking. E-bikes allow riders to traverse upgrades and accelerate with less exertion. Despite this known benefit, there is a lack of understanding in how travel behavior changes after the introduction of e-bikes. In spring 2019, RVA Bikeshare is fully converting their bike fleet from traditional to e-bikes. Using GPS data 6 months prior and 6 months following the deployment of e-bikes, this study will determine the effect of e-bikes on mode and route choice decisions. This study will be able segment mobility factors from safety factors and will provide recommendations on bike infrastructure place and route guidance.

Universities and Sponsoring Organizations Involved

Morgan State University

University of Maryland College Park
City of Richmond

U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Secretary-Research

Principal Investigator(s)

Celeste Chavis (MSU), Email: celeste.chavis@morgan.edu
Vanessa Frias-Martinez (UMD), Email: vfrias@umd.edu

Funding Sources and Amounts

USDOT: $133,407 (Federal), MSU: $32,959, UMD: $34,079

Start Date

September 16, 2019

Expected Completion Date

February 28, 2021

Expected Research Outcomes

The expected outcomes from this research are:

Determine if the adoption of e-bikes changed the quantity, length and purpose of RVA bikeshare trips
Determine how route choice decisions differ between e-bikes and conventional bikes
Determine the potential of e-bikes to address the socioeconomic gaps in bikeshare use
Provide recommendations for infrastructure improvement and route choice guidance

Expected Equity Impacts and Benefits of Implementation

This research will determine if transitioning to e-bikes increases the use of bikeshare. The results of this analysis may be used to provide suggestions for safe routes in the RVA website and mobile app and will guide system expansion. Moreover, this study will determine if e-bike closes socioeconomic and physical ability gaps in bicycle use. 

Subject Areas

bikeshare, e-bikes, GPS trajectories, bike lanes