The Fietsberaad has listed and analysed all available data about the use and traffic safety of e-bikes. The Fietsberaad data about e-bike usage was gathered from the board computers installed on e-bikes. Recent accident reports from hospital Emergency Departments were also analysed. One of the conclusions that emerged was that e-bike users tend to be admitted to hospital wards more often than other cyclists, indicating that the incurred injuries were more severe. However that doesn’t mean the e-bike is more dangerous. The difference can be entirely explained by the fact that e-bike victims are on average considerably older and thus more vulnerable. When corrected for equal age groups the difference disappears.
To get a better picture of the safety risks the Fietsberaad corrected the casualty figures by taking into account the number of e-bike kilometres ridden by various age groups. Up to the age of 60 the risk per kilometre even seems to be lower than that of the average normal cyclists, possibly due to that fact that e-bike users ride more kilometres, also beyond city limits. (In general the risk decreases when cyclists ride more kilometres). Anyway, the Fietsberaad concludes that these figures don’t raise any extra traffic safety concerns for e-bike users.
However, the risk per kilometre does increase for e-bike users above the age of 60, even more so for women. But according to the Fietsberaad that doesn’t mean that by definition e-bikes are more dangerous than normal bikes. ‘Here we see an accumulation of risk factors.’ First of all the exponentially increased risk of injuries for aging cyclists applies both to e-bike users as well as normal cyclists. But on top of that, the risk of injuries increases according to age and gender. The Fietsberaad: ‘We don’t yet know the reason for that. There appear to be two possible explanations, (or a combination of them). Older people who buy an e-bike could be more vulnerable than those using a normal bike. This seems plausible since the physical limitations of advanced age often are the reason for purchasing an e-bike. The other explanation could be that the increased risk is indeed connected to the differences between an e-bike and a normal bike: such as the slightly greater speed of the e-bike, the larger weight, and different riding characteristics due to the electrical assist. These differences are relatively small, but still relevant to the safety of the less able cyclist.'
According to the Fietsberaad, the analysis shows that the safety problem for e-bike users is primarily an enlargement of the safety problem for elderly cyclists. ‘This interrelation is certainly relevant to policy. The aging population in any case creates a need to decide on measures to increase the safety of elderly cyclists.' Some authorities are already taking measures to increase traffic safety, such as removing bends from cycle paths, enlarging curve radii, and giving e-bike instruction to cyclists.