SWOV Catalogus


Verkehrssicherheit von E-Fahrrädern : MERKUR Auswirkungen der Entwicklung des Marktes für E-Fahrräder auf Risiken, Konflikte und Unfälle auf Radinfrastrukturen.
20160703 ST [electronic version only]
Jellinek, R. Hildebrandt, B. Pfaffenbichler, P. & Lemmerer, H.
Wien, Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Innovation und Technologie BMVIT, 2013, XV + 306 p., 37 ref.; Forschungsarbeiten des österreichischen Verkehrssicherheitsfonds ; Band 019

Samenvatting The aim and content of the MERKUR project is to come to conclusions about safety issues and accident risks of e-bikes (also referred to as pedelecs — Pedal Electric Cycles). The MERKUR project reveals information on a possibly higher risk potential by using a variety of methods and researches. The methods include theoretical analyses and expert discussions, interviews with pedelec retailers, rentals and users as well as accident analysis, traffic counting, speed measuring and conflict analyses. Based on these findings, the project recommends guidelines and actions to reduce the risk potential of pedelecs. The report includes the following sections: * Overview and analysis of e-bike specific legal regulations in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the European Union. * A compendium of the various types of pedelecs which are legally recognised as bicycles in Austria; a detailed list and description of available vehicles with electric drive and a description of the safety-relevant features of the different vehicle categories. * An overview of the historical development and a market forecast for pedelecs. * An analysis of the public opinion and the attitudes of potential pedelec users. * A description of the current and future socio-demographic structure of pedelec users. * A theoretical analysis of potential risk factors relating to various aspects of e-bikes as well as a summary and evaluation of different product tests with regard to risk-relevant elements. * An analysis of speed data of different bicycle types and users. * Analysis of surveys of pedelec retailers, rentals and users, as well as results from interviews with experts. * A conflict analysis based on classical traffic conflict observations as well as on comparative rides with pedelecs and conventional bicycles using a helmet camera. * A media analysis regarding e-bike accidents in Austria, including a comparison with results of Austrian road traffic accident statistics and with accident statistics from Switzerland and Bavaria. * An analysis of dangerous spots of the cycling infrastructure. * Proposals for target group-specific information. * Drawing up a concept for a pedelec biker training programme. * Conclusions and recommendations for risk mitigating actions. In several aspects, the legal situation in Austria differs from that of other countries. Contrary to Germany or Switzerland, self-propelled, electrically powered vehicles scan be considered bicycles under the Austrian law provided that they meet certain conditions (i.e. power and speed limits). For example, e-scooters — with a weight of up to 70 kg — may be used on public roads by 10 year old children with a bicycle certificate and by 12 year old children unsupervised without any driver training. Due to the ratio of driver to vehicle weight and the achievable speed, the use of these vehicles by children is considered critical by the authors. There is no legal concept for the vehicle class of fast pedelecs (cycles with pedal assistance reaching up to 45 km/h) in Austria. Fast pedelecs are already available on the market and sold. They are neither bicycles nor do they meet the technical requirements for mopeds. Applications for individual licences for fast pedelecs have not been approved so far. Thus, fast pedelecs are not allowed to be operated on public roads in Austria. Moreover, the legal classification of Segway PT’s as bicycles in Austria is a unique situation. It would be preferable to follow the legal regulations of Germany and Switzerland. In particular, the authors advise a clear legal regulation of the vehicle class fast pedelec. No method for the police exists to check legal compliance of the engine performance of pedelecs or to order fast pedelecs to be inspected in testing laboratories (unless they are involved in an accident). Furthermore, pedelecs can be easily manipulated to reach an increase in achievable pedal assisted speed. Measures such as an anti-manipulation badge would be essential for effective control by the police. As a general rule, it is essential to establish a separate category for traffic accidents involving pedelecs in the Austrian official accident statistics, in order to ensure the analysis and observation of such accidents. Pedelecs are a growth market. Between 2008 and 2010, the share of pedelecs in overall sold bicycles doubled in Austria and amounted to nearly 5% in 2010. In the year 2011, about 35,000 pedelecs were sold in Austria. According to the bike retailers interviewed for the MERKUR project, the market for pedelecs will become increasingly important in the future. However, the retailers assume that growth rates will decrease in the long term. On the basis of the latest data, a logistic model was created to forecast the future market for pedelecs. The model predicts that the share of pedelecs in the bicycle market will be just over 20% by 2020. This figure corresponds to 100,000 sold pedelecs per year. The share of pedelecs in bicycle traffic (determined through traffic counting) ranges from 1.0% in the province of Carinthia up to 6.5% in the province of Vorarlberg; the average share being 2.6%. The public is highly interested in the topic of pedelecs. In summary, more male and elderly people express their interest in the subject. The average pedelec rider is older than a rider of a conventional bicycle. The bicycle traffic countings reveal that the age groups from 40 to 60 years and over 60 years are the most frequent pedelec users. Traffic counts have shown that the share of male pedelec riders is higher than the share of women. The hypothesis that pedelec bikers are mainly inexperienced cyclists must be rejected based on the survey conducted in the framework of the project. More than half of the surveyed users state that they have frequently ridden a bicycle or even almost daily before the purchase of the pedelec. The survey also indicates that the frequency of bicycle use increases after the purchase of the e-bike. The results of the survey show that pedelec users ride more frequently and longer distances than users of conventional bicycles. Thus, the local traffic in rural areas gains importance with respect to pedelecs. The project team takes the view that, the construction of supralocal cycling facilities in rural areas should be further promoted. Several of the pedelec users surveyed report conflicts which arise because other traffic participants underestimate the speed and the acceleration of e-bicycles. About 4% of the respondents had at least one accident involving personal injury or an accident involving property damage. Approximately every sixth person reports to have experienced near misses. About 10% of the respondents attribute both the accidents and the near accidents to higher speed and acceleration. About one-third of the interviewed e-bike retailers, as well as half of the interviewed e-bike rentals indicate that the subject of safety plays a role in the consultations for the majority of their customers. About a quarter of the retailers and the rentals each report that they have received feedback from their clients about safety issues. The majority of the feedback relates to unsafe driving and underestimated speed. The results of the qualitative theoretical analysis show that the factors of speed, vehicle mass, age and training of users, as well as the requirements for the quality of the equipment can lead to an increased risk of accident for pedelecs. The arrangement of the motor and battery components can lead to a shift of the centre of gravity in the longitudinal direction and thus to a changed ratio of the transmissible frictional forces. Combining a front-wheel or a rear-wheel drive with the battery pack placed on the rear carrier rack can lead to higher forces to be transferred to the front wheel and thus facilitate sliding of the front wheel. The distribution and the centre of gravity of the additional masses of pedelec components should preferably be neutral and the centre of gravity should be as low as possible. A mid-mounted engine concept with the battery placed on the seat tube is the best solution to meet the requirements for a neutral weight distribution in longitudinal direction and a low centre of gravity. An analysis of available product tests of pedelecs shows that there are safety-relevant quality defects of some available models. Among other things, brakes had defects, which is especially important in terms of safety issues. One test stated that it is particularly safety critical when the pedal assistance continues for some seconds after the cyclist has stopped pedalling. This point is often referred to as especially critical in the conducted interviews as well The results of measurements with radar gun show that, when compared to conventional bikes, a slight, but not statistically significant trend towards higher speed can be observed for electric bicycles. E-bikers more frequently reach the speed range between 20 km and 25 km/h than users of conventional bikes. The differences in the average speed between these two types of bicycle are however very low. On intersection-free and flat sections of roads, cyclists with conventional bicycles reach an average speed of 18.5 km/h, compared to 19.7 km/h for pedelec riders. Only a very small proportion of e-bikers are faster than 25 km/h on the road. The analysis of the speed of users of racing bikes showed that they are on average around 30% faster on the road than cyclists with conventional bicycles. The results also show that men, regardless of the type of bike, ride faster than women and that elderly people tend to ride slower than younger people (children are excluded from this statement). It is also shown that e-bikers more often use a bicycle helmet than cyclists with conventional bicycles. In addition to the measurements with radar gun, data of comparative measurement runs have also been evaluated. During these runs, test persons rode pre-defined routes using e-bikes or conventional bikes. In general, the average speeds of pedelecs are higher, but mostly not to a statistically significant extent. For several test runs, the achieved maximum speed on conventional bicycles is considerably higher than on e-bikes. In contrast, a much higher maximum acceleration was achieved with the e-bicycles. A higher acceleration can cause conflicts when a car driver wants to turn in front of a cyclist at traffic light-regulated crossings and underestimates the acceleration of the e-bike for instance. During test runs with helmet camera, slightly more conflicts involving pedelecs were observed compared to conventional bicycles. However, the difference was not statistically significant. There were no e-bike specific conflict types identified. A source of conflict which might occur frequently with pedelecs is the fact that other traffic participants underestimate the acceleration. The analysis of the investigated media reports show that mostly accidents with older persons are reported: almost every second report concerns injured senior citizens over 65 years. The average age of e-bikers involved in accidents is around 61 years. In contrast, the average age of all injured cyclists in Austria in the period 2002-2012 was 42. An analysis of official Swiss traffic accident statistics also shows significant differences in the age structure. It is however obvious that the differences are mainly attributable to the different user structure. A comparative analysis of other parties involved in the accidents which are recorded in the official bicycle statistics and reported in the media respectively shows that relatively more ecyclists are involved in single-vehicle accidents (approximately 40% of all accidents) than conventional cyclists (approximately 32% of all accidents). A higher proportion of singlevehicle accidents for e-cyclists is also reflected in the official Swiss traffic accident statistics (about 59% single-vehicle accidents). Single-vehicle accidents are usually attributable to self-inflicted mistakes or collisions with obstacles. Whether this increased share of single- vehicle accidents is due to the vehicle type or due to a different user type cannot be answered at present. The project team takes the view that the needs of e-cyclists are taken into account sufficiently in the directive regarding the planning cycling infrastructure (RVS 03.02.13 "Cycling") which is recommended for use by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (bmvit). An analysis of the existing traffic infrastructure along selected segments shows shortcomings which are largely due to an inadequate implementation of the recommendations of that directive. Consequently the implementation of the “RVS Cycling” should be forced. Moreover, the project team defines eight specific network elements on cycling infrastructure that have an increased conflict potential and which should especially be avoided when a new cycling infrastructure is planned. Based on the results of the MERKUR project, increased awareness raising measures through safety-relevant information material are advisable. The project team developed different aspects that should be included in materials for different target groups, i.e. retailers, rentals and users of pedelecs. The consortium suggests including safety instructions regarding e-bicycles in future general bicycle campaigns. Furthermore, other traffic participants, especially motor vehicle users, should be made aware of the special features of e-bikes (i.e. speed and acceleration). Finally, the results of the MERKUR project lead to a strong recommendation for specific training and test rides for persons who use an e-bike for the first time and for a theoretical and practical cycling training for users who are inexperienced in riding a bike at all. The final report of the MERKUR project describes the recommended design, content and exercises for such a training. The project team recommends defining specific quality standards for pedelec specific trainings, as well as providing funds for such programmes. (Author/publisher)
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