Who are those fast cyclists? An analysis of speed pedelec users in the Netherlands

Maud van der Salm, Zheyan Chen, Dea van Lierop*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In many regions, conventional bicycles and electrically assisted bicycles (e-bikes), are gaining popularity and becoming a commonly used sustainable mode in the urban transportation system. Speed pedelecs are a type of high-speed e-bike with motorized pedal assistance up to a maximum speed of 45 km/h. This relatively new mode is most often used for trips that range from 10 to 40 kilometers, making it a promising mode for promoting drivers to switch to using sustainable and active transportation. The goal of this study is to assess speed pedelec usage in the Netherlands. We set out to understand who the users are, what motivates them, and whether they experience any barriers to speed pedelec usage. Using a factor-cluster analysis we group users based on their attitudes and preferences regarding the physical environment they cycle in, their sociodemographic characteristics, personal attitudes, and social environments. The analysis revealed four primary user groups: Enthusiastic riders, Efficient riders, Concerned riders and Relaxed riders. Across the groups, 85% of the respondents reported using a speed pedelec at least once a week for a trip they would have previously made by car. However, each group has specific travel habits, motivations, and safety concerns. In contrast to previous literature about the use of conventional bicycles, attitudes about competition play an important role for speed pedelec users. Stress reduction and being outside in nature also play an important role for certain segments of speed pedelec users. In addition, believing that other road users have a negative image of speed pedelecs also determines how speed pedelec users use their bicycles. While infrastructure preferences are often cited as being a distinctive factor for users of conventional bicycles, this did not clearly apply to speed pedelec users. However, all user groups reported that on average the cycling infrastructure on their regular routes was insufficiently developed for speed pedelecs. To motivate continued speed pedelec usage, each user groups requires specific policy interventions that are aligned with their personal values related to preference, safety, and image. By understanding the specific needs and desires of different segments it becomes possible to develop effective policy interventions aimed at improving the experiences of all speed pedelec users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1074-1086
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Transportation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Active transportation
  • bicycles
  • clusters
  • e-bikes
  • speed-pedelecs
  • the Netherlands
  • user groups


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