SWOV Catalogus


Safety aspects of high-speed pedelecs.
20170486 ST [electronic version only]
Kühn, M. (Ed.)
Berlin, German Insurance Association (Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft GDV), 2012, 13 p., 2 ref.; Compact accident research ; No. 30

Samenvatting Electric-assist bicycles (pedelecs) are becoming increasingly popular in Germany. According to the German two-wheeler industry association Zweirad-Industrie-Verband (ZIV), around 150,000 of these bicycles were sold in 2009. 200,000 were sold in 2010, and the association expects 300,000 to be sold in 2011. The percentage of sales accounted for high-speed pedelecs is now in the upper single-digit range. The market for retrofit kits is also growing, according to the ZIV. 10,000 of these were sold in 2010. Around 10 % of these sales were for high-speed pedelecs. This trend also brings with it dangers, however. In order to be able to better assess these new vehicles and identify possible threats to safety, the UDV (German Insurers Accident Research) commissioned DEKRA to carry out extensive investigations. These consisted of analysing construction regulations, operational safety and riding and crash tests. The investigations focused on high-speed pedelecs, where pedalling is assisted by motor input up to a speed of 45 km/h. There used to be a clear distinction between bicycles and mopeds. Now, however, we are seeing intelligent combinations of the two. They are known as pedelecs (pedal electric cycles), e-bikes, LEVs (light electric vehicles) or electric bikes. Electric bikes are bicycles that also have an electric motor. The type of motor assistance used has consequences in terms of both vehicle registration and license requirements. There are two groups of pedelecs. A critical criterion used to distinguish between them is the maximum speed at which the cyclist still receives assistance from the electric motor. For conventional pedelecs, which are the most widely available type, this speed is 25 km/h. For high-speed pedelecs it is 45 km/h. European Directive 2002/24/EC defines a slow pedelec as follows: „cycles with pedal assistance which are equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 km/h, or sooner, if the cyclist stops pedalling.“ In the opinion of the UDV, high-speed pedelecs (up to 45 km/h) must be viewed in the same way as a moped (category L1e), as defined by European Directive 2002/24/EC, and all the technical consequences of that must therefore be taken into account. That means, for example, that a type approval is required, insurance is mandatory (evidence of insurance must thus be displayed on the vehicle), and a moped driving license is required. In addition, they must be ridden on the road, and the rider is required to wear a suitable protective helmet pursuant to section 21a of the German road traffic regulations (StVO). That means a motorcycle helmet in this case. The technical systems must meet the requirements of the Directives specified in the above EU Directive. For example, the braking system must comply with 93/14/EC (2006/27/EC), the lighting and light-signalling devices with 2009/67/EC, tires and their fitting with 97/24/EC Chapter 1 and rear-view mirrors with 97/24/EC Chapter 4. The high-speed pedelecs currently on the market do not meet these requirements. This is now the subject of intense debate among experts and politicians. It is important to maintain a sense of proportion in this context. It would make sense to create a new vehicle category for high-speed pedelecs with rules and regulations with regard to both technical and type approval aspects (e. g. maximum speed of 35 km/h, maximum continuous rated power of 500 W, insurance sticker, moped test certificate, bicycle helmet and bell instead of horn). (Author/publisher)
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