Case-Control Study of eBike vs Regular Bike Safety

A study carried out in the Netherlands has compared the likelihood of crashes resulting in emergency treatment for eBike and regular bike riders. A survey carried out in emergency departments were used to gather data for the case group while a survey drawn from the population acted as the control group. The results were controlled for age, gender and bicycle use. The results suggest that although crashes for eBikes and regular bikes are of equal severity, eBike users are more likely to be involved in a collision.

The case group, those who had been involved in an accident, consisted of 294 eBike riders and 1699 regular bike riders. eBike riders experienced twice as many falls while mounting or dismounting and 30% more crashes while cornering but half the number of crashes while overtaking. However, the sample sizes are too small to establish statistical significance in these results.

It is noted that eBikes are generally significantly heavier than regular bikes. This increases the chance of falling when mounting or dismounting, common for older cyclists. Also, noted is the fact that eBikes are often front wheel drive which increases the likelihood of front wheel skidding and therefore loss of control. Another possible reason for the increased risk when riding eBikes is higher speed in relation to rider capability.

Abstract:

Use of electrically assisted bicycles with a maximum speed of 25 km/h is rapidly increasing. This growth has been particularly rapid in the Netherlands, yet very little research has been conducted to assess the road safety implications. This case-control study compares the likelihood of crashes for which treatment at an emergency department is needed and injury consequences for electric bicycles to classic bicycles in the Netherlands among users of 16 years and older. Data were gathered through a survey of victims treated at emergency departments. Additionally, a survey of cyclists without any known crash experience, drawn from a panel of the Dutch population acted as a control sample. Logistic regression analysis is used to compare the risk of crashes with electric and classical bicycles requiring treatment at an emergency department. Among the victims treated at an emergency department we compared those being hospitalized to those being send home after the treatment at the emergency department to compare the injury consequences between electric and classical bicycle victims. The results suggest that, after controlling for age, gender and amount of bicycle use, electric bicycle users are more likely to be involved in a crash that requires treatment at an emergency department due to a crash. Crashes with electric bicycles are about equally severe as crashes with classic bicycles. We advise further research to develop policies to minimize the risk and maximize the health benefits for users of electric bicycles.

Reference:

The safety of electrically assisted bicycles compared to classic bicycles
Schepers, J.P. (Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, Netherlands); Fishman, E.; Den Hertog, P.; Wolt, K. Klein; Schwab, A.L. Source: Accident Analysis and Prevention, v 73, p 174-180, December 2014

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