What might be the intermediate step before non-bicyclists become bike-to-work commuters part-time? Full-time?
What would have to change in city/suburb transport infrastructure to incentivize these same new-ish bike-to-work commuters to adopt on a 20 mile trip daily versus a 2 mile route during the work week?
Last month our editors interviewed photojournalist Susanne Bruesch of Pedelec Adventures of Berlin Germany who takes bike tours to the very limit for bicycle travel usually seen only in National Geographic. Is cyclotouring becoming more feasible for everyone? The injured, infirm or just-out-breath? Are campaigns of bicyclists crossing landscapes of volcanos, meadows, waterfalls and glaciers that rival car ads enticing enough for adults to consider a two-wheeler again?
This month? Our bicycling documentary editors completed Part 1 of Emerging Ebikes of the Pacific Northwest for focus group test screenings in Washington State and California.
iZip E3 Dash, Emazing, Kalkhoff Sahel and throttle (power on demand) converted brand X. These are four electric transport options already in the Pacific Northwest USA. Susanne Bruesch of Germany studied pedelec electric bikes when they were emerging in Europe but established in Asia. Now Interbike (the bike industry trade show) has shown electrified sports bikes too.
How might your bike community react to pedal assist bikes, throttle (power on demand) electric boost bikes as part of regional green mobility? What about the Maker movement? How will DIY electric bike conversion kits change the way you commute?
Journalist-on-a-Bicycle Renee Marchol studied electric bikes and its emerging urban and hilly communities in the Pacific Northwest during the summer of 2014. What are your thoughts? How do you imagine the next 15 years of electric transport? Performance or fitness: what is your purpose for cycling? 800 miles from Pacifica CA to Everett WA including San Francisco and Seattle
So for Part 2, we checked in with a transportation researcher known for his Canada Velocity ebike report, Ayman Zoubir PhD Consultant in Urban Planning and Sustainable Transportation of Lyon France via Skype call on July 23rd.
4 Fast Facts
- Pedelecs bikes are seen as sustainable transport solutions targeted at commuters, which are most typical users. Average commute distance range from 3 to 5 miles. Surveys show that middle-aged people holding higher social positions represent about half of pedelecs users in France.
- Suburbs outside of Lyon France are still reluctant to adopt the “last mile” on bike practice because a lake of integration into transit system. Solo car passenger is still the most appealing option because of underdeveloped public transport and cycling infrastructure that would encourage combining bike plus bus and train.
- Conventional foldable bikes seem to present fewer obstacles for commuters willing to adopt “intermodality” particularly when boarding on public transit during peak hours.
- Commuters can change their mobility behavior when they are confronted with specific new mobility options in experiments. The challenge is to design a sufficient range of experiments to be able to draw more general conclusions on what it is possible under which conditions.
In SmartyGirlLeadership Indie’s documentary short project, Microdocumentary by Mammals, the filmmaker’s conclusion after five months of electric bike research as commuter in the Pacific Northwest is that too many barriers exist for her choose to purchase an ebike for all her commuter needs. Compatibility on other public modes of transport was the number one reason why phase 1 of the research showed that renting a pedelec for certain film and commute trips was the most feasible solution.
Speaking with advisors, Robert & Danny Beaman of Dublin Cyclery of California, our Editor-in-Chief prepared interview questions to ask Ayman Zoubir about the parallels in North America and the challenges he faces regarding transportation innovation for green mobility in Lyon France.
Ayman Zoubir teamed up with transport authorities from local government to study the impact of commuter incentives to reduce solo passenger driving in the city Lyon France and its suburbs since 2011. The tests have included the use of pedelecs, conventional and foldable bikes. Also, cycle & ride facilities were provided near local public transit stops to cover the last mile to workplace.
Intermodality is a theoretical term, which means combining several means of transport during the same journey, using different types of vehicles to get from A to Z. For example, train + car or bus + bicycle.
This logic aims to justify the use of the car by offering relevant mobility alternatives.
But I’m not sure that the UK and the USA share the same definition of multimodality, which in our UK meaning assumes a choice (not a combination) between several means of transport.
For example, you can commute to work by bus and ride a public bike for your return trip to home. This could be considered as multimodal mobility behavior in the USA.
What is the problem? What is preventing adoption of this commuter lifestyle by bike?
Infrastructure is not consistent in the suburbs. In contrast, the city has amenities such as convenient, numerous bus and train stops and designated bike lanes. Commuters living in the suburbs do not adopt a bike-to-work lifestyle because bike paths are lacking and connecting public transport is lacking. Biking is not a convenient alternative to using a solo passenger car for suburbia yet. Another barrier to bicycle commuting stated by testers during the experiment in linked to safety concerns. We’ve noted also a strong seasonality in the frequency of cycling, commuters were particularly sensitive to weather conditions in particular precipitations.
What incentives have been tested? What was the result?
The main aim was to introduce industrial employees commuters who normally drive alone to work by car to test an e-bike, a conventional or a folding bike as an alternative mode of their daily commute. The objective was to involve a core group of around 100 “test-commuters” for the experiment. The main finding was a long-term change in car use in the first demonstration site: 10% modal shift from SOV to Cycling. 20% of test-commuters purchased a bike.
Among other incentives introduced by the local government to promote alternative ways of transport and encourage employees to cycle to work, Greater Lyon metropolitan authority has decided in 2012 to assign grants for e-bike purchase (maximum grant €250) for resident living on the Grand Lyon area. Measures are part of Lyon’s active transportation master plan (2009-2020), which plans to reach 7.5% cycling mode share by 2020.
Many were frustrated with the lack of compatibility of the electric bike frame’s weight and frame to fit in comfortably as bus-rider and train-passenger. The participants also expressed reluctance to store their expensive electric bike, even in the newly built bike parking and storage for fear of theft. Reducing the initial cost of the electric bike purchase did not seem to assist the intermodality bicyclist commuters in maintaining this lifestyle beyond a year.
What other types of bikes are in the study?
Non-electric folding bikes present fewer obstacles to intermodality bicycle commuters when passengers on bus and train. We are still studying the customer satisfaction of the newly built bike storage for these types of commuters.
Infrastructure: human strategy for logistics in a settlement. The objective is a transportation sustainable eco-system for people, goods and services. For widespread early adoption and a permanent lifestyle change for commuters, the criteria includes: cost-effectiveness, safety, security, comfort, technology adaptability, and social acceptance.
Foldable bike: a personal transport, usually with two wheels, for one commuter. The frame can be folded to take up less space for portability.
the “last mile” campaign: Ayman Zoubir studied the results of the tests on commuters choosing to use a combination of bike, bus and train for their daily commute for 12 months in the Lyon France are. The goal was to make reducing solo passenger cars for daily commutes to alleviate congestion on the roads. Example: For a two mile work commute, consider riding a bus/train and then riding your bike for the last mile to workplace.
SOV: single occupancy vehicle
To read his original reports visit the following links.
For creative ways eco-transport intermodality biking advocates have used video campaigns, go here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1HYYvEVw6c
What? You thought that laughter wasn’t allowed?
SmartyFella Ayman Zoubir answered our Skype questions via video conference while sitting in his private office in Lyon France wearing a long-sleeve collared light blue shirt suitable for a bicycle commuter working in an academic setting. Oh yeah. He also chose our pop culture export a dapper Garfield as his Skype avatar. Go scientist-scholars! For more green transportation innovation news follow @Mobilius_C