The joy of riding: Understanding Perth women’s use of e-bikes

A world-first research project into the use of e-bikes by women was conducted in early 2023 by Murdoch University in collaboration with WestCycle, the peak body for bike riding in WA.

Despite a significant increase in the sales and use of e-bikes across the world, and here in WA, there is little understanding about the issues and attitudes towards e-bike use, particularly among women.

“We wanted to understand the reasons women purchased e-bikes, the usage patterns, potential barriers, and ways to enhance the use of e-bikes,” said Raj Kandiah, who conducted the research as his Master’s thesis at Murdoch University.

“Participants highlighted the importance of e-bikes for commuting, convenience, health, and overall well-being and also emphasised the environmental and health benefits of using e-bikes, but most revealing was the joy the women expressed about riding their e-bike,” said Mr Kandiah.

Quotes from women who participated in the study include: “Every single person I’ve ever given a ride on an e-bike comes back with the biggest smile, they absolutely love it.”; “it gives me freedom and makes me happy”; “it’s just magnificent.”; “I love it”; and “it makes getting around fun”.

Barriers to e-bike entry

Raj Kandiah, a Murdoch University Master’s student, undertook a literature review of global studies into women’s use of e-bikes, then conducted in-depth interviews with eight women who ride e-bikes in Perth. The interviews also identified several barriers to the use and uptake of e-bikes.

“Participants expressed concerns about technological issues such as ‘range anxiety’, when the battery runs out mid-way through a journey because they had nowhere to top it up,” said Raj Kandiah.

“Speed and power limitations were also a concern, as it can make it harder to get ahead of traffic or up hills, security concerns about parking expensive bikes out in the open were expressed as well as the initial cost of purchasing an e-bike,” Mr Kandiah said.

Based on the research findings, Mr Kandiah recommends that policymakers consider reviewing speed limits of e-bikes, improving security technology, providing public charging points and introducing subsidies to encourage more people to use e-bikes.

Further investment and improvements to cycling infrastructure is also essential to support the widespread adoption of e-bikes as a mode of transport.

Closing the gender and age gaps

A supporting quantitative study conducted by WestCycle showed that 50% of e-bike users are women – making e-bikes a great equaliser between gender participation in cycling. People over 45 years old were also the most likely to use e-bikes. This could be because of the high cost of e-bikes, or because e-bikes enable people who are less physically fit or mobile to ride a bike easily.

“WestCycle’s vision is to get more people riding bikes more often, and we can see how e-bikes make this possible for many more people and can facilitate many more trips by bike,” said Wayne Bradshaw, CEO of WestCycle. 

“E-bikes are a great equaliser, closing the gender gap and offering a clean, efficient, safe and low-cost option to more people to get around.” Mr Bradshaw said.

Most survey respondents said they often replace a car journey with the e-bike because it takes them further faster, and they can often carry more on an e-bike.

“Given that two thirds of all car trips in Perth are less than 5km, we should be encouraging the uptake of e-bikes, and bikes generally to reduce congestion, noise and air pollution, emissions and improve road safety. Not to mention the pure joy of cycling!”

WestCycle collaborates with various WA universities on research into issues that affect people who ride, or want to ride, bikes.

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MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Rachel Pemberton 0408 988 977 


Background and additional information: 

Raj Kandiah recommends that policymakers consider reviewing speed limits of e-bikes, improving security technology, providing public charging points and introducing subsidies to encourage more people to use e-bikes.

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Tim Roach

Elected Director | Off Road

Tim has been in senior leadership and strategic development roles for more than twenty years. He is currently Director of Executive Education in the School of Business and Law at Edith Cowan University and is a past Assistant Commissioner and General Manager in the public service. He is an Accountant (FCPA) and sits on the Divisional Council of CPA Australia.

Tim has been involved in racing mountain bikes, BMX and triathlon for many years, both as a father of two children who race and as a past and current bike racer. Tim is the current over-50 State Champion in downhill mountain biking. He is also a very regular and enthusiastic transport cyclist; frequently seen in a suit and tie riding to meetings in the city on a mountain bike.

Denise Sullivan

Chair | Governance & Risk Committee

Denise Sullivan has a career spanning over twenty years in senior management and executive roles in the state public and not-for-profit health sectors.

In her usual role of Director Chronic Disease Prevention with the Western Australian Department of Health, she leads the development of state chronic disease and injury prevention policy and planning frameworks and contributes to the shaping of the national preventive health policy agenda.

Her professional interests cover many aspects of chronic disease and injury prevention encompassing health communications, health promotion and research, public policy on health and workforce planning and development.

She has a particular interest in furthering collaborations with other sectors with a mutual interest in promoting a more active and healthier WA community, and creating and sustaining environments that support this. Denise is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Leadership WA Signature Program, and an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and the Australian College of Health Service Managers.

Denise is a recreational cyclist and recent convert to mountain biking (although trainer wheels still on!).