The results of the first representative cargo bike survey in Austria have arrived. The goal of the 1511-participant survey is to identify potential for increasing the use of emission-free family vehicles and to understand the attitudes and needs of Austrians. The reason for this is that 77% of all personal transport errands could be performed with (e-) cargo bikes. However, in order to realise this, the necessary distribution of and will to use cargo bikes is still missing. KlimaEntLaster-Team’s project HAUSRAD aims to tackle this problem. It is being financed by the Climate and Energy Fund and consists of TU Wien move, Factum, Die Radvokat:innen, Energy Climate and Cycle Competence member quadratic.
Results of the survey
The survey was carried out in 2023 by GfK Market Research and was compiled by Lukas Tanzer and Aurelia Kammerhofer from TU Wien move. A comprehensive report of the results can be found here (german); below we will outline the most important results.
The survey focused on issues surrounding every-day mobility as well as specific points relating to cargo bikes. Sociodemographic, socioeconomic and psychological dimensions were also analysed. The data have been representatively compiled according to age, gender, region and size of municipality. The results provide a snapshot which gives us detailed insight into the current challenges facing cargo bike use in Austria and allow us to make projections and assumptions as to likely new target groups for cargo bikes nationwide.
As a foundational element of the survey, participants were asked to score themselves on how likely they were to use a cargo bike. The willingness to use cargo bikes can be represented in terms of willingness to makes changes in behavior:
Steps of behavioral change. (TU Wien after Bamberg 2012)
How willing are people to use cargo bikes?
The good news is, half a million Austrians (6.4%) would be prepared to use a cargo bike, the only obstacle being not knowing how. The availability of cargo bike rental schemes, particularly outside of cities, better public information about such rental schemes and more developed test-ride and purchasing opportunities will be decisive in winning-over this demographic. A further 1.5% of those asked, have concrete plans to use a cargo bike and 0.7%, a projected 56,000 Austrians already use a cargo bike, be it their own, or as part of a sharing or rental scheme.
One tenth of those asked don’t feel in the position to use a cargo bike. Removal of obstacles to cargo bike use can help people in this group to change their minds, demonstrated by the fact that some of the people in this group didn’t know where they could test, use or borrow cargo bikes. These participants were also most likely to say that they didn’t have the confidence to try cargo bikes and that they were dissatisfied with the current state of cycling infrastructure. By providing people with the relevant information about cargo bike sharing schemes and improvements to cycling infrastructure, these self-imposed barriers could be greatly diminished.
Willingness of Austrians to integrate cargo bikes into their daily activities. (1511 participants)
Nationwide, 33.2% of the participants state that they have not yet considered using cargo bikes. This group could potentially have long-term potential, as they could be motivated to use cargo bikes through awareness-raising and testing opportunities. Just under half of the participants see no need for cargo bikes. When asked about their preferred type of cargo bike usage, a narrow majority of 52% would like to have access to a cargo bike either through sharing, in a private setting, or by purchasing or subscribing to a rental scheme.
Preferred cargo bike usage forms. (1511 participants)
The most popular form of usage is borrowing a cargo bike either from family or friends (14.6%) or using a shared bike from a rental station (16.6%). Sharing options are particularly suitable for sporadic use and require no effort on the part of the users. The group of users who prefer cargo bike sharing is characterised by a higher proportion of women, a relatively young to middle age range, and a higher level of formal education.
Approximately one in five individuals prefers owning their own cargo bike. This group is characterised by a higher proportion of men, a relatively young to middle age range, and a high level of formal education. Subscriptions, at 1.7%, represent the least popular form of cargo bike usage in Austria. The low percentage can also be attributed to the fact that Austria does not yet offer subscription services for cargo bikes as is the case in Germany. Therefore, within the framework of the HAUSRAD project, KlimaEntLaster will test a subscription service in two pilot municipalities.
What do Austrians think about cargo bikes?
Positive or negative attitudes towards cargo bikes have a strong influence on the openness to using cargo bikes. Different aspects such as health, cost and time efficiency, comfort, contribution to environmental protection, as well as fun, role modeling, or everyday life without a car were evaluated by the participants.
Attitudes towards cargo bikes (1,511 respondents)
Overall, the majority of Austrians agree that riding a cargo bike promotes a healthy lifestyle. Contrary to the common belief that purchasing a cargo bike is expensive, three-quarters of the respondents agreed that riding a cargo bike is cost-efficient. However, only one in five participants perceived cargo bikes as time-efficient.
The quarter of participants with the most positive attitudes towards cargo bikes consists of more women and individuals with higher educational qualifications compared to the Austrian average. Furthermore, cargo bike supporters tend to live in urban areas. However, the average age is almost identical to the Austrian average, which means that in all age groups, there are individuals with a positive opinion of cargo bikes.
What prevents Austrians using cargo bikes?
The expansion of cycling infrastructure and its suitability for cargo bike use are important aspects for promoting cargo bike use in Austria. Only one in four Austrians perceives the bike paths in their area to be sufficiently developed. On the other hand, for about half of all Austrians, long everyday distances pose a barrier to cargo bike use, and therefore also cycling in general. Almost a quarter are uncertain or do not feel capable of riding a cargo bike. Here, health and age-related factors likely play a role, especially a lack of confidence when cycling.
Perceived barriers to cargo bike use (1,408 participants who don’t ride cargo bikes)
Another barrier is that 60% of Austrians state that they do not know where they can test or use a cargo bike. This indicates a lack of availability of cargo bike sales and sharing options. Cargo bike sharing is most readily available in Vienna (around 30 bikes on graetzlrad.wien), state capitals (e.g. Lara in Graz with 15 bikes), or in individual communities (especially via radverteiler.at with a total of 90 cargo bikes). In Vorarlberg, fairvelo.at offers six bikes. In total, there are approximately 130 shared cargo bikes available nationwide in Austria. In comparison, the city of Regensburg alone has 90 shared cargo bikes, and Berlin has over 500.
2.5 million Austrians interested in cargo bike testing
The survey shows that around one-third of the participants, projected to be around 2.5 million Austrians, express a general interest in trying a cargo bike, indicating the potential for testing possibilities in Austria.
Interest in cargo bike testing (1,511 participants)
The group of people interested in testing a cargo bike is mainly composed of individuals between the ages of 16 and 59. Compared to the age groups in the Austrian average, younger groups are clearly overrepresented when it comes to interest in cargo bikes. In terms of educational level, those interested in cargo bikes tend to have a higher formal education level compared to the Austrian average.
What would Austrians use a cargo bike for?
The most common response given by the respondents is that they would use a cargo bike for shopping trips. The second most common use mentioned is for leisure activities, particularly excursions in nature. These findings are also reflected in surveys of cargo bike users in previous KlimaEntLaster projects, where transporting children, bulky items, and waste disposal trips were likewise identified as examples of cargo bike use.
What Austrians would use a cargo bike for. (1,481 participants who seldom or never use cargo bikes)
What are important conditions?
About two-thirds of the respondents prioritise the expansion of bike lanes as an important priority in promoting cargo bike usage. Suitable parking facilities at home and in public spaces are another basic requirement. However, the availability of free charging facilities in public spaces was considered less relevant. More than 38% of Austrians who would like to own a cargo bike consider purchase subsidies from the government as an important requirement.
Flexible sharing services like those offered by radverteiler reach the target audience.
Those interested in cargo bike sharing value the ability to reserve vehicles spontaneously, to have a rental location within a 5-10 minute walk from their home, and to have a simple registration process. On the other hand, special features of the cargo bikes themselves and a cargo box capacity of more than 100kg are perceived as less important for sharing services.
Characteristics of potential users: age, children, mobility, education
The analysis of the results identifies certain user groups with high potential for future cargo bike usage. Age plays an important role here. Overall, one in five Austrians between the ages of 30 and 59 would like to use a cargo bike in their daily lives, but only 13% in the 16-29 age group. Among participants over 60 years old, only 14% would like to use a cargo bike as most of them do not see a need for it.
The mobility behavior of the respondents also strongly influences the potential use of cargo bikes. Among Austrians who primarily use cars for their daily transportation, only one in ten would use a cargo bike in their daily lives. On the other hand, among those who primarily use public transportation, bicycles (including e-bikes), or a combination of modes of transport, one in five express the desire to use a cargo bike.
In households with at least one child, a higher proportion of individuals express a willingness to use a cargo bike compared to childless households. In terms of formal education, the openness to cargo bikes is particularly pronounced among Austrians with higher qualifications. This is demonstrated by the fact that 21% of Austrians with degrees from universities and general higher schools (AHS) would like to use a cargo bike in their daily lives. Among participants with compulsory education, vocational training, and middle-level vocational schools as their highest qualification, only 13% express the same desire.
The place of residence, whether urban or rural, also has clear influence on the openness to cargo bike usage. Overall, 29% of Austrian residents in regional centers and surrounding urban areas would like to use a cargo bike. In rural areas, however, only 19% express the same desire.
Conclusion: Target groups for a cargo bike boom in Austria
Certain groups demonstrate greater openness to cargo bike usage and are the easiest to engage in cargo bike services. These groups include individuals who already use multimodal transportation in their daily lives, have higher formal education, and live in households with children. These individuals are typically between the ages of 29 and 59, already use bicycles more frequently in their daily lives, and perceive barriers to cargo bike usage as only moderately relevant.
This promising target audience could look something like this young family from Freistadt.
The survey shows: 15% of individuals over the age of 16 would like to ride a cargo bike but don’t know how or feel incapable of doing so. This means that up to 1,155,000 people in Austria could be encouraged to engage in sharing, subscription, leasing, or purchasing of cargo bikes through information, encouragement, test rides, and model consultations.
Less easily engaged are groups of people who have not yet given sufficient thought to the use of cargo bikes. However, there may be potential here for raising awareness, providing test opportunities, and providing information to these groups. This includes individuals who still primarily rely on cars in their current daily lives. Groups described as particularly difficult to engage are those who have no need for cargo bike usage in their daily lives, including senior citizens or individuals with a high reliance on cars in rural areas and households without children in urban areas.
However, practical experience from the KlimaEntLaster project also shows that senior citizens can occasionally be enthusiastic about using cargo bikes and can serve as role models for others.
Background information on the research project
The KlimaEntLaster project HAUSRAD aims to design new mobility offerings with cargo bikes that take into account the requirements of different target groups and are easily integrated into everyday life. The goal is to develop flexible, reliable, environmentally friendly, and socially inclusive mobility options using cargo bikes.
Building on the survey, in-depth qualitative interviews with potential users will be conducted, and new offerings with and around cargo bikes will be conceptualised. Test days and workshops with interested citizens were conducted in the two pilot locations (Amstetten and St. Andrä/Wördern). In the next step, the project team will further develop these inputs into New Mobility Services (NMDL) and test them in the pilot locations. Based on this, implementation models for cargo bike-based NMDL will be developed.
Download of report (german PDF, 2023) of TU Wien move
Datenquellen: Befragung 1.511 Personen über 16 Jahren; Basis zur Hochrechnung: 7.705.127 Österreicher:innen über 16 Jahren, Statistik Austria, 1.1.2023.
*Studienergebnis EU-Projekt Cycle Logistics
Fotos: Peter Provaznik | Grafiken: TU Wien move, Die Radvokat:innen