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Preliminary results from a field experiment on e-bike safety : speed choice and mental workload for middle-aged and elderly cyclists. Paper presented at the International Cycling Safety Conference 2013, Helmond, The Netherland, 20-21 November 2013.
20140961 ST [electronic version only]
Twisk, D.A.M. Boele, M.J. Vlakveld, W.P. Christoph, M. Sikkema, R. Remij, R. & Schwab, A.L.
In: Proceedings of the International Cycling Safety Conference 2013, Helmond, The Netherland, 20-21 November 2013, 15 p., 26 ref.

Samenvatting To study the safety of e-bikes for the elderly, an experimental field study was conducted, using instrumented bicycles and comparing two age groups: older cyclists, n= 29, mean age = 70, SD = 4.2 and middle-aged cyclists, n = 29, mean age = 38, SD = 4.3. All were regular cyclists. They rode a fixed route with a length of about 3.5 km: once on an instrumented e-bike and once on an instrumented conventional bike, in counterbalanced order. Measures were taken on heart rate, mental workload, and geographical position (GPS), balance and riding speed. This paper only reports a subset of the results namely the main findings on speed and mental workload. As predicted, both age groups rode significantly faster on an e-bike than on a conventional bike. This difference was greatest on the straight sections, but only small in bends. In all situations (turn to the left, and straight) older cyclists rode slower than middle-aged bicyclists, both on an e-bike and a conventional bicycle. In fact, the speed of elderly on e-bikes did not differ from that of middle-aged participants on conventional bikes. As expected, mental workload was higher in complex situations (left turns), than in simple ones (straight sections). Mental workload in complex situations were even higher for the elderly. But no difference was found for bicycle type. These results suggest that cyclists slow down their speeds in complex traffic situations, and that this pattern does not differ between conventional or e-bikes, nor between the two age groups. It is still too early to draw conclusions about the safety of e -bikes. Additional analyses will be carried out to assess the robustness of these conclusions.
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