E-bike riders provide information on micromobility travel and CO2 savings

As e-bikes grow in popularity, the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) is working with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to collect and analyze e-bike travel data to understand how the form of transportation by fastest growing electric vehicle is used. and having an impact on energy consumption.

Starting in 2021, the CEO funded several pilot programs, including one that distributed e-bikes and e-bike sharing subscriptions to low-income essential workers in various locations across the state. Each pilot project tested different programs, models and incentives with their participants to capture different types of information.

Participants used a customized version of NREL’s OpenPATH application, which automatically detected and passively collected data about participants’ trips. He created a trip diary and asked riders to tag diary entries to learn how e-bikes were used and help gauge carbon emissions savings, NREL explained in a recent report.

In the Smart Commute pilot project in Adams and Broomfield counties, participants rode e-bikes for a trial period before moving to full ownership. The pilot revealed a lack of compatible charging stations and bike racks where vehicles could be safely left.

This idea led to the development of a database for resources suitable for e-bikes. “Our thought was that if we were to ask them to do [use e-bikes]so we had to give them the right gear to be successful,” said Jeanne Shreve, e-bike program administrator for Smart Commute.

For the Roll-to-Restaurants pilot in Durango, the CEO partnered with 4Core, a nonprofit promoting energy efficiency for low-income residents. The pilot project used a loan-to-buy program to provide e-bikes and accessories to low-income restaurant and food service employees. Participants were asked to rate their trips on the NREL app, and after several months of consistent data collection, participants would fully own the e-bike.

The dashboard on CanBikeCO shows a variety of metrics for Colorado’s six e-bike pilot programs, including number of trips by goal, frequency of e-bike trips, breakdown of trip types (in single vehicles, carpooling options or on foot) replaced by e-bikes. It also presents a graph of the energy consumption and emissions of electric bicycles compared to other modes of public transport.

While data collected through the app has helped track carbon emissions, motivating participants to annotate their trips has become a challenge. To address the decline in manual user input, an automatic labeling feature with an error gauge will be incorporated into the next version of the app, NREL officials said.

Following the success of Colorado’s e-bike pilots, the OpenPATH app is now widely available to public agencies who can ask residents to install it on their smartphones and participate in local e-bike studies. The app has a built-in carbon footprint tracker so users can track their travel emissions and inform choices about sustainable options. The open-source tool can also be modified for more specific studies.

Data captured by the OpenPATH tool can help policymakers support the growth of the micromobility market, which can help meet the needs of underrepresented and remote communities and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. tight.

“Travel mobility tends to focus on larger vehicles, and the lack of data revealing the travel behavior of people in these types of communities creates a disparity in how infrastructure and transportation projects are funded. “said Andrew Duvall, Project Manager and Transport Behavior Analyst at NREL. “OpenPATH democratizes the collection of mobility data, which will allow policy makers to be better informed when making investment choices, such as adding a bike lane to a bridge during its construction, rather than than expensive modernization; taking into account the way people move and ensuring that energy-efficient options are considered in infrastructure.

The results of this pilot project have already informed the creation of new e-bike incentive programs in Denver and e-bike lending programs in partnership with the New Haven, Connecticut, Clean Cities Coalition, NREL officials said. .

Lance B. Holton