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E-bike trials’ potential to promote sustained changes in car owners mobility habits

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Moser Corinne, Blumer Yann, Hille Stefanie Lena,
Project Using formal social groups to promote energy sufficient behaviour in cities
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Environmental Research Letters
Volume (Issue) 13(4)
Page(s) 044025 - 044025
Title of proceedings Environmental Research Letters
DOI 10.1088/1748-9326/aaad73

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Modal shifts hold considerable potential to mitigate carbon emissions. Electric bikes (e-bikes) represent a promising energy- and carbon-efficient alternative to cars. However, as mobility behaviour is highly habitual, convincing people to switch from cars to e-bikes is challenging. One strategy to accomplish this is the disruption of existing habits—a key idea behind an annual e-bike promotion programme in Switzerland, in which car owners can try out an e-bike for free over a two-week period in exchange for their car keys. By means of a longitudinal survey, we measured the long-term effects of this trial on mobility-related habitual associations. After one year, participants’ habitual association with car use had weakened significantly. This finding was valid both for participants who bought an e-bike after the trial and those who did not. Our findings contrast the results of other studies who find that the effect of interventions to induce modal shifts wears off over time. We conclude that an e-bike trial has the potential to break mobility habits and motivate car owners to use more sustainable means of transport.