, Volume 46, Issue 6, pp 2151–2172 | Cite as

E-bikes among older adults: benefits, disadvantages, usage and crash characteristics

  • Jelle Van CauwenbergEmail author
  • Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij
  • Peter Clarys
  • Bas de Geus
  • Benedicte Deforche


The promotion of sustainable and healthy mobility among older adults (≥ 65 years) is an important challenge. E-bikes may be part of the solution, but research about e-bike use among older adults is scarce. The current study aims to examine e-bikes’ purchase reasons, benefits and disadvantages, purposes and amount of use, substitution effects and crash characteristics among older e-bike users. Additionally, it examines differences between men and women. In Flanders (Belgium), 357 older e-bike users completed an online- or interview-version of the same questionnaire. Among men and women, the most prevalent reason for e-bike purchase was to bike with less effort (24.1%). The most important benefit of e-bike use was to be able to bike longer distances (35.0%). E-bikes’ heavy weight was the most frequently reported disadvantage (33.3%). Men more frequently reported battery issues, but also that they do not experience any disadvantage. Women more frequently reported fear of falling/injuries. Participants used their e-bikes for various purposes. Men more frequently reported to cycle for recreation alone while women used the e-bike more for social reasons. E-bikes predominantly replaced trips by conventional bike (72.0%) and car (50.7%). About one quarter (27.5%) had experienced an e-bike crash, most frequently caused by an uneven or slippery surface (26.5%). To promote active ageing, policy initiatives could include strategies aimed at stimulating e-bike use. These strategies should focus on emphasizing the identified benefits, reducing the disadvantages and increasing e-bike safety. Research in countries with less favorable cycling cultures is necessary to confirm current findings.


Pedelecs Seniors Sustainable mobility Bicycling Active ageing 



Funding was provided by Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (Grant No. 12I1117N).

Author’s contributions

JVC, conceptualization and study design, data collection, statistical analysis, manuscript writing; IDB, PC, BdG, BD, conceptualization and study design, critical revision of the article.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11116_2018_9919_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 14 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (FWO)BrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  4. 4.Physical Activity and Health Research Unit, Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Faculty of Physical Education and Physical TherapyVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  5. 5.Human Physiology Research Group, Faculty of Physical Education and Physical TherapyVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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