SWOV Catalogus


Electric bikes in Australia : safety gains and some new concerns.
20141429 qq ST (In: ST 20141429 [electronic version only])
Johnson, M. & Rose, G.
In: Proceedings of the 3rd International Cycling Safety Conference (ICSC2014), Gothenburg, Sweden, November 18-19, 2014, 13 p., 27 ref.

Samenvatting In 2012, the Australian government adopted the European Union standard for pedelecs. This landmark policy decision opened Australia to the global market of internationally designed and manufactured electric bikes. Early indicators are that owners of electric bikes are riding more frequently and replacing vehicle trips, gaining many of the known benefits of cycling. Electric bikes addressed a range of issues that were identified as barriers to pedal bike cycling (e.g. hills, lack of fitness, lack of time, overweight). However, electric bikes are also presenting new, electric bike-specific safety concerns. In this study we build on the electric bike safety research with findings from an online survey of electric bike owners in Australia (n=522), their perceptions of safety and crash involvement accounting for previous cycling experience. Almost half the electric bike owners felt safer riding in traffic compared to riding a pedal bicycle (46.8%). There was significantly more agreement that it was safer to ride in traffic by people who were not previously regular cyclist (63.6%) compared to people who were regular cyclists prior to owning an electric bike (39.8%)(x2(1)=20.796, p<0.001). Power assistance had helped almost half the participants avoid a crash (42.5%). Participants felt more confident that they could complete a trip that they may not have the stamina to complete on a conventional bicycle. More than a quarter of participants (26.4%) had crashed and electric bike specific factors contributed to some crashes, specifically, throttle/handle grip power engagement, unexpected power surges that destabilised the rider and dis/mounting manoeuvres. Half the crashes did not involve a motor vehicle (55.3%). Of the crashes that did involve a vehicle, the collision profile was comparable to those experienced by pedal cyclists in Australia including crashes involving a vehicle occupant opening the car door in the path of the cyclist. Electric bikes have the potential to significantly to increase cycling participation in Australia. It is likely that the electric bike-specific safety concerns will be mitigated by greater rider support. This support could be offered at point-of-sale or post-purchase in bike handling skills training education. (Author/publisher)
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