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Motivational perspectives of a community based electric bike project in Sweden


Konferensbidrag (Refereegranskat)



A community in Sweden runs a project aiming to stimulate citizens to choose active transport to reduce city car traffic, emissions and noise; and to promote residents' health by increased physical activity. Citizens can borrow an electric bike providing electric assistance when pedaling (pedelec) for free for three months to “try and feel”, and are then offered to buy the bike after this period to a reduced price. The project has engaged approximately 500 participants over three years (2015-2017) distributed in three groups per year. Drawing from self-determination theory, the purpose of this study was to examine underlying motives for choosing to use the pedelec above passive transport (car, bus) during and after the three month period.  


Semi-structured interviews were performed with eight informants who had participated in the project during 2014-2016. These will be complemented with another 8-10 interviews from the 2017 participant groups. Qualitative content analysis was used to explore and describe attitudes, behaviors, goals and barriers regarding informants’ motives to physical activity in general, as well as specifically directed towards using pedelecs. The interviews were complemented with quantitative measures in two of the groups from 2017 before, during and after participation (N=19).


Analyses revealed four main themes of motivation. The informants chose the pedelec as a means of transport for health reasons (regular exercise), for economic reasons (avoid having two cars, reducing gasoline and parking costs), for environmental reasons (to reduce environmental impact) and for personal values (related to exercise identity and/or environmental-friendly). Those who used the pedelec regularly felt that their fitness improved and that they had more energy in everyday life. Participants also felt that the pedelec facilitated cycling to a larger extent, and in addition to using it for transport for work or school, they also used it for shopping and leisure activities.


The step from passive to active transport might be challenging, but a pedelec might facilitate such a transition and reduce perceived behavioral barriers. This study could shed some light on how community interventions can be designed to facilitate autonomous motivation towards more sustainable transport behaviors.

Nyckelord: self-determination; motivation; physical activity; electric bike

Citera: Weman Josefsson, Karin & Back, Jenny, Motivational perspectives of a community based electric bike project in Sweden, Abstract book for the ISBNPA 2018 Annual Meeting in Hong Kong., s. 134-135, 2018