The potential of electric and non-electric bicycles to reduce energy consumption and emissions in private transport
Electric vehicles are widely considered as an important future option to reduce green house gas emissions from car traffic due to their efficient propulsion technology and the possibility to be charged from renewable energy sources. However, replacing car trips by bicycle trips in principle allows a strong reduction of fossil fuel demand in private transport even with currently available technologies. Two factors of current development increase the likelihood of this option: the introduction of electric bicycles and the construction of bicycle fast lanes. The former have already reached significant sales shares in different European countries and the latter are currently being introduced as special bicycle "motor ways" in different regions of Europe. Both increase the likelihood of slightly longer trips to be performed by bicycle. However, the real potential for CO2 mitigation and possible substitution rates (substitute car trips by bicycle trips) are not properly understood yet. Here, we combine different statistical sources to estimate the potential of increased bicycle driving and the possible reduction of energy use in private transport and green house gas emissions. Using a large data set of German vehicle usage we analyse their driving behaviour in terms of the distribution of trip lengths, working trips and their weather dependence. Our analysis shows that electric and non-electric two-wheelers have the potential to mitigate traffic and emissions in densely populated regions.