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German pedelec accident stats show increase in younger riders

22 days ago

4 minutes

Pedelec customers have become younger in recent years, with accident statistics reflecting the trend.

Source: Destatis

Age structure of Pedelec riders involved in accidents in a year-on-year comparison since 2014 (Source: Destatis)

  • Almost a third of those who had an accident with a Pedelec in 2023 were younger than 45 years, compared to 11% in 2014.
  • The number of Pedelec accidents with personal injuries has increased more than tenfold compared to 2014
  • Pedelec accidents resulting in personal injury are more likely to result in death than accidents involving bicycles without an auxiliary motor

More and more young people are discovering bicycles with electric motors – this is also reflected in the number of accidents. While in 2014 more than half (54.5%) of the users of such Pedelecs – often colloquially referred to as e-bikes – who had an accident were at least 65 years old, in 2023 the figure was only a third (30.1 %). As the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reports, the proportion of younger people who had an accident with a Pedelec rose accordingly: in 2014, one in nine people (10.7%) who had an accident with a Pedelec was under 45 years of age, and in 2023, almost one in three (31 .2%). For comparison: In the case of accidents on non-motorized bicycles, one or one in six accident victims was 65 or older. More than half (54.8%) were younger than 45 years.

Growing popularity is reflected in increasing accident numbers

Overall, the number of Pedelec accidents in Germany has risen sharply in recent years: In 2023, the police reported a good 23,900 Pedelec accidents with personal injury, around eleven times as many as in 2014, when there were still a good 2,200 such accidents. For comparison: In the case of non-motorized bicycles, the number of accidents resulting in personal injury has fallen: from a good 76,600 in 2014 to almost 72,200 in 2023. 2014 is the first year in which police accident reports nationwide differentiate between bicycles without an auxiliary motor and Pedelecs is differentiated. One reason for the development is the growing popularity of bicycles with an auxiliary motor. As early as 2022, 15.5% of private households in Germany had at least one Pedelec; in 2014 it was still 3.4% of households.

This is also reflected in the number of Pedelec users who have had accidents. In 2023, 23,658 people had an accident while travelling on Pedelecs. That was almost eleven times as many as in 2014 with around 2,223 accidents. The number of Pedelec users killed in a traffic accident also increased significantly: in 2023, 188 people died on a Pedelec, and in 2014 there were 39 people.

In contrast, the number of accidents on non-motorized bicycles fell by around 7% from 2014 to 2023. In 2023, around 70,900 people were injured on a non-motorized bicycle; in 2014 there were 76,073 people. The number of people killed also fell during this period: in 2023, 256 people died on a non-motorized bicycle, compared to 357 people in 2014.

Pedelec accidents resulting in personal injury are more likely to be fatal than accidents involving bicycles without motors

In view of the increasing number of accidents, it is being discussed whether Pedelecs are more dangerous than non-motorized bicycles. Based on 1,000 Pedelec accidents with personal injuries, an average of 7.9 riders died in 2023; in the case of a non-motorized bicycle, the figure was 3.6 fatalities. However, this is also due to the age of the accident victims: people who were injured or killed on a Pedelec were on average 53 years old and therefore, despite the falling average age, older than those who were injured on a non-motorized bicycle, who were on average 42 years old. Older people are more likely to be seriously or fatally injured in a fall than younger people.

What is striking in this context is that the number of people who had fatal accidents with a Pedelec per 1,000 Pedelec accidents resulting in personal injury has decreased significantly in recent years: in 2014 there were 17.4 people killed per 1,000 Pedelec accidents (compared to 7.9 killed in 2023). This is also due, among other things, to the decreasing age of those involved in the accident.

Methodological note:

A pedelec is a bicycle with pedal assistance and an electric motor auxiliary drive with a maximum rated continuous power of 0.25 kW, the support of which progressively reduces as the driving speed increases and is interrupted at the latest when it reaches 25 km/h.

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