Electric bikes are just as safe to ride as traditional bikes, according to new research by Dutch safety organisation VeiligheidNL. Although the elderly are more at risk of an accident, whichever type of bicycle they use.
Originally reported De Telegraaf and DutchNews.nl, the Dutch national newspaper quotes researcher Paul Schepers: “I can see how this is surprising. Four years ago I did the same research and then the conclusion was that people riding electric bikes were at greater risk than those who had to pedal (without assistance). We thought the weight of the bikes led to more accidents. But we have new figures now and they tell us that this isn’t the case if you compare the number of accidents and factor in age, frequency and distance.”
Data on cycle related accidents from hospital accident and emergency departments was used to look at the risk of using e-bikes. It showed e-bike users still have a greater risk of ending up at the accident and emergency department, but that it is related to the age of the users and the number of kilometres they travel (not the type bike they choose).
The findings are in contrast to this April 2018 study which suggested there was a link and reported that specific e-bike training has been advocated for new and elderly users. Reading between the lines of the two studies it appears their recommendations are not that different. There are more people over 65 using e-bikes and encountering an injury, but injury on a regular bike might be just as likely. So the issue isn’t e-bikes, but age.
Indeed Schepers goes on to say that e-bikes for the elderly need to be designed so that people can reach the ground with their feet, noting that older cyclists are more likely to struggle with getting on and off their bikes. As with many things in the cycle trade, the influence of demographics, and particularly an ageing “baby-boomer” population bulge, is likely to drive changes in the way bikes are designed, sold and used.