PhD Position in Smart Cycling Assistance and User Experience

University of Twente Department of Civil Engineering


Job description

The Department of Civil Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) of the University of Twente (UT) has an opening for a full-time, 4-year, fully-funded PhD project. The project concerns the design, testing and evaluation of advanced cyclist interfaces and assistance systems for electric bikes (e-bikes). Advanced driver assistance systems are common for car drivers but are new for cyclists and research is needed. Can assistance systems make cycling use more safe, reliable, and comfortable? Under which conditions do Dutch cyclists accept a system taking control of, for example, speed or acceleration of their e-bikes? You will design and test such a system, and examine the impacts on user satisfaction, cycling behaviour, traffic safety and the journey experience of different e-bike user groups, including commuters and elderly people.


The Netherlands is well-known for cycling. All together the Dutch own over 22 million bicycles with a population of 17 million people. Electric bikes (e-bikes) are rapidly growing in popularity in the Netherlands since its introduction in the late 1990ies. Currently, over 400,000 e-bikes are sold annually in the Netherlands. The growing popularity (of powerful) e-bikes has many advantages but at the same time the number of traffic accidents with (mainly elderly) e-bike users has grown rapidly.

The University of Twente (Departments of Civil Engineering and Computer Science) is collaborating with Accell Group, TU Delft and Saxion University of Applied Science in an NWO funded research project Smart Connected Bikes, comprising three PhD positions. Accell group is a large European bicycle manufacturer and produces and distributes bicycles through several brands, including the electric-bike pioneer-brands Haibike and Sparta.

The Smart Connected Bikes project aims to explore, develop and test a connected bicycle ecosystem combining the capabilities of sensing, wireless technology and data science to make bicycle use more safe, reliable, and comfortable. The project will comprise large-scale field tests and applications can provide safety information such as collision avoidance warnings, communication with traffic signals to provide improved bicycle detection as well as to convey traffic information to bicyclists. The design, testing and evaluation of advanced cyclist assistance systems is an important part of the Smart Connected Bikes project.

Your profile

  • A Master’s degree (completed or near completion) in civil engineering, industrial design engineering, interaction technology or related fields
  • Good communication skills and you have a strong interest in operating at the crossroads of different disciplines
  • Excellent command of English (C1; above IELTS 7 or equivalent)
  • A good command of written and spoken Dutch (B2 to C1)
  • Interest and in experience in human-technology interaction, user experience and/or travel behavior research
  • A proactive attitude
  • A good team spirit and like to work in an interdisciplinary project and in an internationally oriented environment where many cultures meet.
  • You are able to do independent research and have publication skills

As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the Twente Graduate School (TGS). Your work location is Enschede, but you will spend a part of your time at the Accell offices (Apeldoorn, Heerenveen or Ede).

Additional information about this position can be obtained from prof. dr. Karst T. Geurs, Transport Engineering and Management Research group, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Twente (e-mail:

Please submit your application before September 1, 2020 (choose “apply now” below). Your application must include:

  • A motivation letter (maximum 2 page A4) describing why you apply for this project, a description of your research interest and research ideas for the PhD project.
  • A full Curriculum Vitae, including a list of all courses attended and grades obtained, and, if applicable, a list of publications.
  • Letters of recommendation, and names of possible references
  • A short description (maximum 1 page A4) of your MSc research.
  • Documentation proving your English proficiency is appreciated

Since only three documents can be uploaded per application, please combine documents if needed.

Our offer

  • A fulltime 4 year PhD-position
  • We provide excellent mentorship and a stimulating research environment with excellent facilities;
  • You are offered a professional and personal development program within the Twente Graduate School;
  • A starting salary of € 2395 gross per month in the first year and a salary of € 3061 in the fourth year gross per month;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Minimum of 23 holidays per year in case of fulltime employment.

The organization

The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which leads change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university of the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. We have a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out groundbreaking research.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support women to apply.

The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) is one of the five faculties of the University of Twente. ET combines Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our faculty has approximately 1800 bachelor and master students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates. The departments of the faculty cooperatively conduct the educational programmes and participate in interdisciplinary research projects, programmes and the research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute.

In your application, please refer to