RESEARCH - Human-Electric Hybrid Vehicles

UBC LogoThe University of British Columbia has prepared a report for TransLink titled Human-electric hybrid vehicles: Implications of new non-auto mobility options for street design and policy in the Vancouver region. The objectives of the research were to address the following:

  • How will new non-auto mobility options (electric bicycles and other no-/low-power vehicles) impact speed dynamics on non-auto facilities and interactions among non-auto travellers?
  • How are the speeds of vehicles and the perceptions of comfort for non-auto travellers influenced by the presence of electricassist and microenvironment factors (path grade, facility design, season, other path users, etc.)?
  • Given these new non-auto mobility options, what transportation system policies, plans, and designs are needed to mitigate conflicts among non-auto modes?
  • Is the Vancouver region ready to accommodate these new modes with existing infrastructure and policies?

The following conclusions and recommendations were made by the authors:

  1. The region is generally ready to accommodate new mobility devices in off-street paths without major effects on speeds and with only slight reductions in path user comfort (even with much higher mode shares of electric-assist vehicles).
  2. Pedestrian discomfort justifies reduced volume thresholds for separating pedestrians from other travellers on multi-use paths and greenways that accommodate new mobility devices.
  3. We should work to eliminate the use of (moped-style) sit-down electric scooters on off-street paths and cycling facilities, which are clear speed and comfort outliers.
  4. Other than for moped-style scooters, the current 32 km/hr regulatory limit on electric-assist cycle speeds appears to be effective, and further enforcement is not needed at this time. However, achieving lower speeds for other electric-assist devices (e.g., the 24 km/hr limit in the Provincial electric kick scooter pilot) may require additional vehicle-level speed control strategies. Monitoring of electric kick scooter speeds during the pilot program is recommended.
  5. Active transportation design guidelines should be updated to reflect real-world speeds, particularly for electric-assist bicycles and devices. The 30 km/hr design speed for cycling facilities suggested in the B.C. Active Transportation Design Guidelines is appropriate, even for facilities with a large share of electric-assist new mobility devices (as currently used). Further research is needed to include other design aspects of new devices such as stopping distances and turning radii.