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Spontaneous emergence versus technology management in sustainable mobility transitions: Electric bicycles in China

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  • Wells, Peter
  • Lin, Xiao

Abstract

This paper describes and seeks to understand the scale of the electric bicycle (electric two-wheeler) market in China, and to begin to explain its emergence with a view to outlining the prospects for learning from this case for applications in other countries around the world. Drawing on secondary data from Chinese government sources, electric bicycle industry websites, Chinese media sites and other sources, this exploratory paper positions the development of the electric bicycle market as occurring largely in the absence of positive policy intervention – in stark contrast to the nurturing afforded the electric car sector world-wide. The paper develops a multi-scalar perspective of transitions theory in an institutional setting, with examples drawn from Beijing and Fuzhou, to explain the processes of change outside of the traditional reference context of technology policy and management. It is concluded that transitions theory has a greater flexibility and adaptability as an explanatory framework than previously shown, but empirically the electric two-wheeler is a weakly-embedded alternative to mainstream automobility.

Suggested Citation

  • Wells, Peter & Lin, Xiao, 2015. "Spontaneous emergence versus technology management in sustainable mobility transitions: Electric bicycles in China," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 371-383.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:78:y:2015:i:c:p:371-383
    DOI: 10.1016/j.tra.2015.05.022
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    Cited by:

    1. Ba Hung, Nguyen & Jaewon, Sung & Lim, Ocktaeck, 2017. "A study of the effects of input parameters on the dynamics and required power of an electric bicycle," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 204(C), pages 1347-1362.
    2. Lin, Xiao & Wells, Peter & Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2018. "The death of a transport regime? The future of electric bicycles and transportation pathways for sustainable mobility in China," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 255-267.
    3. Liqiao Wang & Peter Wells, 2020. "Automobilities after SARS-CoV-2: A Socio-Technical Perspective," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(15), pages 1-14, July.
    4. Xue, Fei & Yao, Enjian & Jin, Fanglei, 2020. "Exploring residential relocation behavior for families with workers and students; a study from Beijing, China," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 89(C).
    5. Tyfield, David & Zuev, Dennis, 2018. "Stasis, dynamism and emergence of the e-mobility system in China: A power relational perspective," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 259-270.
    6. Nan Ye & Linjie Gao & Zhicai Juan & Anning Ni, 2018. "Are People from Households with Children More Likely to Travel by Car? An Empirical Investigation of Individual Travel Mode Choices in Shanghai, China," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(12), pages 1-14, December.
    7. Lin, Xiao & Wells, Peter & Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2017. "Benign mobility? Electric bicycles, sustainable transport consumption behaviour and socio-technical transitions in Nanjing, China," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 223-234.

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