A study published in the Journal of Transport and Health reveals micromobility patterns in the city of Barcelona, Spain, by assessing physical activity levels associated with bike, e-bike and e-scooter usage.
Conventional bikes and e-bikes are the most active transport mode for health benefits.
To examine the physical activity and health benefits for each travel mode, researchers Bretones, Miralles-Guasch, and Marquet, measured the amount of energy used by riders as METs (Metabolic Equivalents of Tasks). Findings showed that energy conversion with all micromobility modes was 2.47 and 2.65 METs (under specified real time and traffic related conditions, respectively).
Out of all vehicle modes, E-scooters received the lowest energy conversion, with 2.20 METs on average, with researchers recognising the physical activity level required for it as being similar to that of automobile trips. Results also revealed that a minute of riding a conventional bike achieves 28% more physical activity than that of riding an e-scooter, with a difference of only 1.4% between electric scooters and e-bikes.
In terms of distribution for physical activity, the study states that e-scooter usage patterns showed intermittent peaks of physical activity with extended sedentary periods, while e-bikes and bicycles had a more even distribution, with more intense bursts of exercises during these trips.
The results revealed non-electric, conventional bikes as having the highest energy expenditure, with researchers highlighting both conventional and electric bikes as being key transport modes to help improve public health benefits through physical activity.
Vehicle usage in distance and location context
E-scooter trips covered shorter distances (1.96 km) compared to the mean distance covered by other modes of micromobility (2.28 km). The article does acknowledge that e-scooters can be a great transport replacement for more sedentary travel, such as private vehicles, and recognises that in the context of dense and compact cities like Barcelona, the short journeys that e-scooters tend to cover are often already undertaken by walking or biking.
The researchers indicate that this study can be a useful source to help improve public health policy, and suggests that e-scooter and bike sharing should be further promoted to replace car usage, thus helping to maximize health benefits for citizens.