SWOV Catalogus


Traffic safety of electric bicycles.
20170478 ST [electronic version only]
Gehlert, T. (Ed.)
Berlin, German Insurance Association (Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft GDV), 2014, 13 p., 9 ref.; Compact accident research ; No. 46

Samenvatting The number of electric bicycles has increased in recent years and continues to increase both in Germany and elsewhere. For example, 410,000 e-bikes were sold in Germany in 2013. The unique feature of these bikes is their electric motor. The German legislation distinguishes between pedelecs (pedal electric cycles), s-pedelecs and e-bikes, depending on the type and power of the motor: 1. A pedelec is a bicycle with motor assistance of up to 250 watts that is only engaged when the cyclist is pedaling and cuts out at a speed of 25 km/h. Motor assistance is permitted without pedaling at speeds of up to 6 km/h. A pedelec is legally classified as a bicycle. That means the pedelec user can use the cycling infrastructure and does not need a driving license or motor liability insurance. Wearing a cycling helmet is recommended but not mandatory. 2. The more powerful s-pedelec provides motor assistance of up to 500 watts to a pedaling cyclist and cuts out at 45 km/h. It is classified as a moped. S-pedelec users are therefore subject to the same conditions as moped riders: above all, that means they need a license, a helmet and a vehicle registration, and they may only use the road infrastructure. 3. An e-bike with power on demand provides motor assistance of up to 500 watts and at speeds of up to 20 km/h without pedaling. It is classified as a moped and is therefore subject to the restrictions described above. The majority of electric bicycles in Germany are pedelecs, which have a market share of about 98%. Only 2% to 3% of electric bicycles are s-pedelecs or e-bikes with power on demand. The growing number of electric bicycles and the possibility of higher speeds give rise to concerns about road safety, in particular the risk of crashes and accidents. In Germany, pedelecs have only been included as a separate vehicle category in the accident statistics since 2014. Reliable accident statistics will therefore not be available before 2017. In Switzerland, electric bicycles have been included separately since 2011. The initial results show that pedelec accidents are more serious than conventional bicycle accidents. People aged 45 and older are particularly affected. However, these results may not be transferable, since the Swiss legislation permits electric bicycles with motor assistance of up to 1,000 watts. Consequently, German Insurers Accident Research (UDV) and Chemnitz University of Technology carried out a large-scale naturalistic cycling study to investigate the vehicle usage, speed and road safety of users of electric bicycles in Germany. Three groups were compared: riders of i) pedelecs, ii) s-pedelecs and iii) conventional bicycles. This publication summarizes the main findings. All the results are published in research report no. 27. (Author/publisher)
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