Benign mobility? Electric bicycles, sustainable transport consumption behaviour and socio-technical transitions in Nanjing, China

Xiao Lin, Peter Wells*, Benjamin K. Sovacool

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we ask whether electric bicycle (e-bike) use in urban China is a temporary phase or an embedded form of sustainable mobility. A survey was conducted in Nanjing in order to assess the characteristics and attitudes of electric bicycle users and other mode users (e.g. pedestrians; car drivers). Based on over 1000 responses a Logit Model was used to analyse current and future mode choice. The results show that electric bicycles are not necessarily displacing cars on a substantial scale, but are rather displacing the ‘benign’ modes of walking, traditional bicycling, and using the bus. We conclude that electric bicycles are helping to enable mobility-dependent lifestyles that may in the future be supported by cars, rather than offering a true departure from carbon-centred, motorized forms of transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-234
Number of pages12
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Early online date29 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • Alternative mobility
  • E-bikes
  • Electric bicycles
  • Nanjing
  • Regime embedding
  • User attitudes

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