Non-profit organisation Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has launched a calculator for cities to assess the environmental and economic impact of e-bikes for short trips.
The E-Bike Environment and Economics Impact Assessment Calculator took a year to build and was designed by the Colorado-based core team of Bryn Grunwald, Heather House and Jacob Korn.
It was also reviewed by the City of Denver, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and the World Resources Institute.
Jacob Korn, Senior Associate at RMI and co-creator of the calculator, told Zag Daily: “The calculator focuses on shifting vehicle trips under five miles to e-bikes, recognising that in many U.S. cities, over 50% of vehicle trips are under five miles. The calculator’s default assumes that cities will adopt a relatively modest goal of replacing just one in four car trips under three miles with an e-bike ride, and one in 10 journeys under five miles.
“By doing this, the tool is able to show the reductions in emissions and economic savings that are possible by shifting just a portion of vehicle trips to e-bikes.”
The creation of the calculator was partly motivated by the city of Denver’s successful e-bike rebate programme, and its relevant report which saw the Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency hand out 3,000 e-bike rebates to residents in its first round. Typically, the rebates offered $400 for regular e-bikes and $1,200 for income-qualifying residents.
RMI observed the interest that the programme garnered, and also recognised that policymakers still lacked reliable data on the impact of using e-bikes citywide. The institute therefore created the calculator to assist policymakers, advocates, and stakeholders with making data-driven decisions.
“We hope that the calculator will demonstrate to policymakers that e-bikes are a serious climate solution and must be a key part of our toolkit to rapidly decarbonise our urban transportation systems,” Jacob said.
While it is still early stages, approximately 10 cities have so far reached out to the team about using the calculator, and RMI will be hosting a webinar in the coming weeks to provide a walk-through on the tool.
“We are not arguing a need to fully replace vehicles with e-bikes, but we are showing the incredible impact that can be made by shifting just a portion of short vehicle trips to e-bikes.”