Status: Ongoing

The Yukon, as a small and remote Northern jurisdiction, relies heavily on the transportation of goods and people within the territory. In 2017, transportation accounted for 61% of the territory’s GHG emissions; on-road gasoline and on-road diesel emissions increased 10 and 16% respectively between 2009 and 2017 (Government of Yukon, 2020). Through the Our Clean Future report, the Government of Yukon is focused on reducing emissions related to greenhouse gases from transportation. One means of doing so, particularly in Whitehorse, would be to focus on active transportation. Whitehorse saw an increase in commuting by vehicle from 78% in 2016 to 81% in 2021, despite a slight increase in bicycle commuting from 3% to 4% over the same time period (Government of Yukon, 2021, p. 25). The Government of Yukon has set a goal of reducing the number of commutes taking place by vehicle to 55% in 2031. Since 2020, the Yukon government has offered a 25% rebate on electric bicycles, and had issued 124 rebates by August 2021 (Government of Yukon, 2021).

Project description

Electric bicycles represent a significant transportation innovation by making cycling a much accessible option. By providing pedal assist, eBikes reduce the effort required from the rider, allowing cyclists to more easily travel further and over more difficult terrain, which is important in hilly environments like Whitehorse. Crucially, making cycling more accessible means that eBikes should be viewed as vehicle replacements, not bicycle replacements. Those who are currently commuting by car, not bicycle, could be convinced to move to an eBike, but would not choose a conventional bicycle because of those accessibility reasons. To encourage this movement toward more active transportation by eBike, policymakers should ensure that they view eBikes as vehicle replacements and fund active transportation infrastructure and regulate eBikes with that in mind. Currently, the City of Whitehorse has a bylaw in place that limits the less expensive eBikes with throttles (class 2) to roadways and paved trails, whereas pedal-assist only eBikes (class 1) can be used on any trail. There is no difference in the power or top speed between these two classes.

This project consists, methodologically, of two parts. The first is obtain data on vehicles currently registered in the Yukon and typical commutes made by vehicle within the City of Whitehorse. Then, using data on the number of eBike rebates already paid, determine the average amount of GHGs already displaced by eBikes if used for commuting under several scenarios. This model could be projected out to determine what might change if more eBikes were adopted by Whitehorse residents.

Project team

Dr. Sara McPhee-Knowles, Project Lead, School of Business and Leadership
Dr. Lisa Kanary, School of Business and Leadership

Partners and funders

YukonU Scholarly Activity Grant