Bike Portland: Portland State researcher seeks subjects for first of its kind electric bike study
Author: Jonathan Maus
Posted: March 16, 2020

To read the original story, visit Bike Portland.

“E-bikes are the future!” That’s what Portland mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone proclaimed at a forum earlier this week. Iannarone is bullish on e-bikes not just because she’s an expert on innovative transportation solutions (thanks in part to her work at First Stop Portland), but because she rides an e-bike herself.

Many that ride e-bikes quickly become evangelists like Iannarone and start using words like “transformational” and “revolution”.

Now a Portland State University research project wants to add more science to back up all the excitement. And they’re looking for subjects.

PSU’s Transportation Research and Education Center is already known for its e-bike research. But a new study from researcher John MacArthur will take things even further. Working with a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, MacArthur and his colleagues have created an app and custom dongle that will track travel behaviors of local e-bike users.

“E-bikes are a new mode of transportation that could substantially improve efficiency in the transportation system if adopted as substitutes for cars,” reads the study website.

With an app connected to the dongle, the study aims to collect passive data from participants and, “Using machine learning algorithms, create the largest and richest dataset to support the growth of e-bike use as a transportation option.”

Reached via email yesterday, MacArthur shared that, “This is the first US study to gather real-time travel data from e-bike users.” Specifically, MacArthur added, “We are trying to understand how people use their e-bikes and what modes they are replacing their trips with the e-bike.” The data will be used to better understand the potential of for e-bikes to reduce driving trips.

PSU is collaborating with researchers at University of Tennessee and University of Pittsburgh. They hope to enroll over 100 people nationwide to take part in the study. The only catch is that the study is currently open only to people whose bikes are equipped with Bosch motors and who use an iPhone. Asked about that limitation, MacArthur said Bosch is a partner on NSF grant and, given the relatively small size of the study, it would add too much complexity to make the dongle work on multiple motor platforms.

If your bike and phone fit the bill and you want to be involved, learn more and sign up at the study website.