Study finds electric bikes faster than cars for most journeys

kh_e-comfort_bild02-lprOver 400,000 e-bikes were sold across Germany last year so the Federal Environment Agency studied their merits compared to other ways to travel. It turns out that cycling is faster than driving in your car for door-to-door journeys of up to 6 km in towns and cities. Electric bikes extend this lead – they’re faster than cars for journeys up to 10 km with the difference being marginal all the way to 20 km. When you consider 75% of journeys are under 10 km, it’s clear electric bikes have a major role to play.

No data was presented for fast electric bikes that assist up to 28 mph, but it’s safe to assume the lead would be extended even further (though by then the car driver has probably joined an autobahn and disappeared over the horizon).

The graph below shows the results if you travel on foot, on the bus, by pedal cycle, electric bike and by car. Time is show on the vertical axis in minutes, distance on the horizontal in kilometres.

electric bikes faster than cars
blue line – walking | orange – bus | light green – bicycle | dark green – e-bike | purple – car

This ties in with an earlier study by J L Radtke that found pedal-assisted electric bike to be the most efficient form of transport yet devised – more efficient than driving, pedal cycling, air travel – even walking!

“For personal travel between 5 and 30 miles per day, the electric bicycle offers the lowest environmental and personal monetary costs,usually without increasing urban travel time.” Radtke Jeff. Energy, Global Warming, and Electric Bicycles: Energy Flow Analysis with an Emphasis on Personal Transportation [Internet]. Version 1. neodymics. 2010 Oct 13. Available from:
The evidence for electric bikes as the big hope for transport continues to stack up.

And then there are the other advantages – the more people use electric bikes, the more congestion, risk of serious accident, particulate levels and CO₂ emission are all reduced. And for the individual, everyone who rides a bike knows there are benefits like health, wellbeing and smiling to add to the equation.

It’s good, clean, life-affirming, health-promoting fun. There are safety benefits too – it’s easier to get out of the way at junctions, avoid being an obstruction for other road users along the way and spend less time out on the road. That’s why hundreds of thousands of normal people across Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia use an e-bike as their primary transport. And that’s why you should think about it too.

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