A mixed-methods analysis of perceptions of pedal assist e-bikes in older women and men


The purpose of this research was to gain insight into the perspectives of older adults after having the opportunity to ride a pedal assist e-bike on a closed outdoor loop in two conditions in random order: 1) loaded: the e-bike was loaded with additional weight (20kg) to mimic transportation with good such as groceries, and 2) unloaded: no additional weight was added to the e-bike. Participants responded to a number of statements on their perception of e-bikes in a survey (n=30), and semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted using the theoretical framework of phenomenology with a subsample of participants (n=8). All participants were community dwelling older adults aged 60 years and older. Survey responses suggest that older adults enjoyed riding the e-bike, felt safe and in control while riding the e-bike, and found the e-bike comfortable and easy to use. Eight themes were identified from the qualitative analysis: Benefits, E-bike Characteristics, Cost, Desire, Connectivity and Logistics of use, Safety, Recreation, Government Role. Participants consistently indicated that they intended to use e-bikes for a wide variety of uses as they aged, including transportation and recreation. Potential barriers to e-bike adoption included cost, infrastructure, and e-bike weight. Older adults found many benefits to using a pedal-assist e-bike, and indicated interest in purchasing one as they age or lose physical capacity. Governments have an important role in ensuring safety, access, connectivity, and age-friendly policies pertaining to e-bike use.