SWOV Catalogus

131119

Elektrische fietsen en speed-pedelecs : kennis over de verkeersveiligheid.
C 51792 [electronic version only]
Vlakveld, W.P.
Den Haag, Stichting Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Verkeersveiligheid SWOV, 2016, 18 p., 21 ref.; R-2016-7

Samenvatting Pedelecs: electric bicycles and speed pedelecs; Knowledge about their road safety. A pedelec is a bicycle with an electric motor that supports the cyclist in pushing the pedals. There are basically two types of pedelecs: the 'normal' electric bicycle and the relatively new 'speed pedelec'. An electric bicycle provides assistance while cycling at speeds up to about 25 km/h, a speed pedelec up to 45 km/h. Electric bicycles are popular, especially among older cyclists. However, the use among other target groups increases. Electric bicycles are increasingly used, for example, by commuters. Speed pedelecs have been on the market for only a short period and they are especially popular with people in their thirties. They take the speed pedelec to work instead of the car. Pedelecs have many advantages. Although the electric motor offers assistance in moving forward, the rider still need to be physically active, and this good for one's health. The elderly stay mobile to a higher age thanks to the pedelec. Commuters using the pedelec instead of the car has a positive effect on both traffic flow and the environment. This report does not go into the advantages for health and mobility, but only looks at the road safety aspects related with pedelecs. On average the cycling speed on an electric bicycle is about 2 km/hour faster than on a regular bike: the average on a regular bike about is 15 km/hour and on an electric bicycle 17 km/hour. The speed cycled on a speed pedelec is an average of 9 km/hour faster than on a regular bike (about 24 km/hour). The speed at which one rides a pedelec, is age-dependent. Up to an age of 60 years old, there are no clear indications that the risk of a crash on an electric bicycle is higher than on a regular bike. For older cyclists the risk of a crash seems to be somewhat higher on an electric bicycle than on a regular bike. As yet, little is known about the risk of crashes while riding speed pedelecs. Presumably the somewhat higher crash risk for older cyclists on an electric bicycle can be attributed to the higher speed. In addition, they sometimes seem to have more problems with mounting and building up speed and with stopping and dismounting. This is probably due to the higher weight of electric bicycles and the riding characteristics at low speeds. Another possible cause is self-selection: older people may choose to ride an electric bicycle when strongly decreased muscle strength prevents them from using a regular bike. Together with the decrease in muscle strength due to ageing, however, other functions, such as the sense of balance, often also decline. Electric bicycles and speed pedelecs could be made safer for older cyclists by a lighter weight, a lower centre of gravity, an easy entry level, immediate (light) pedalling assistance from moment one starts cycling, possibly a saddle is automatically adjusted upward and downward at mounting and dismounting. There are also special cycling courses for elderly people with electric bicycles. It is not known whether these lead to fewer casualties.
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