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Research analyses over 95 thousand bicycle and pedelec crashes over 9 years

170 days ago

2 minutes

Data gathered from police crash reports in Germany reveals minor differences in the makeup of pedelec and bicycle crashes, leading researchers to support generalised road safety improvements over targeting pedelecs.

Research by Katja Schleinitz and Tibor Petzoldt and published in Journal of Safety Research has shed light on the development of pedelec (electric pedal-assist bicycles) and bicycle crashes from 2013 to 2021. The research, which analyzed data from three federal states, aimed to identify trends and clarify whether these trends were specific to pedelecs.

The continuous growth in e-bike usage in Germany, with pedelecs supporting pedaling up to 25 km/h, raised questions about the use of historical crash data for road safety measures. The study, which analyzed 95,338 police-reported pedelec and bicycle injury crashes, revealed several important findings.

While there were some differences between pedelecs and conventional bicycles, many variables showed a high degree of temporal stability. Notably, the mean age of pedelec riders involved in crashes was significantly older than that of conventional cyclists. However, the study also found that the mean age of pedelec riders had decreased over time, becoming eight years younger.

Single vehicle crashes were consistently more common for pedelec riders than for cyclists, and pedelec rider crashes were associated with higher injury severity throughout the study period, likely due to pedelec riders being older on average. Pedelecs were also more likely than bicycles to experience a crash outside of urban areas, and on weekends. The data also showed similarities in the types of crashes involving both pedelecs and bicycles, with cars being the most frequent collision partners when multiple parties were involved.

The study revealed a significant increase in the number of pedelec riders involved in crashes over the years, highlighting the growing popularity of pedelecs in Germany. This surge in pedelec ownership and usage challenges the long-term validity of findings regarding pedelec crashes.

The researchers concluded that, while there are minor differences between pedelec and bicycle crashes, there is no immediate need for road safety measures specifically targeting pedelecs. Instead, the study emphasized the demand for innovative solutions to improve cycling safety in general.

This comprehensive analysis provides valuable insights into the trends and characteristics of pedelec and bicycle crashes in Germany over a nine-year period. It highlights the need for continued attention to road safety, especially as the popularity of e-bikes, including pedelecs, continues to grow across Europe.

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