Tag Archive: safety

  1. Congress in rare agreement on e-bike battery bill pushed by NY representatives

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    Source: The City

    Legislation to fast-track standards for manufacturing lithium-ion batteries has unanimous, bipartisan support. But standards that will have the power to change the industry are still months if not years away

    To address the hazards posed by poorly manufactured batteries in e-bikes and e-scooters, New York City officials have implemented measures to curb the rising incidents of fires and injuries caused by these devices.

    Within the first three weeks of 2024, there were nine fires linked to these batteries, resulting in eight injuries. FDNY reported that since 2019, injuries related to battery fires have surged by 1,053%, reaching 150 cases in 2023. Last year, 18 people died in battery-related fires, up from 6 deaths the year before.

    To counter this alarming trend, officials have passed local legislation to prohibit the possession or sale of refurbished lithium-ion batteries. A City Council committee hearing is scheduled to discuss additional e-bike safety measures, and Governor Kathy Hochul plans to propose a bill banning their sale. Public housing leaders in the city have also moved to limit the number of e-bikes per household. Despite these efforts, safety experts argue that true mitigation requires regulation at the manufacturing source.

    Achieving this goal necessitates federal legislation, a challenging prospect given the divided and unproductive state of Congress. Surprisingly, there is bipartisan support for regulating the batteries, as evidenced by a pending bill in Congress. This legislation aims to empower the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish federal standards for the safe construction and import of these batteries.

    New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with Representative Ritchie Torres, have been advocating for such legislation since last year. Without this authorization, the Consumer Product Safety Commission lacks the regulatory authority to impose mandatory standards. The absence of mandatory standards allows manufacturers to adhere to safety measures voluntarily, leading to an influx of poorly made products and subsequent battery malfunctions, explosions, and fires.

    The bill has garnered significant support during its progression through the House of Representatives, receiving unanimous approval in both a subcommittee and the Energy and Commerce Committee. Though viewed as a positive development by consumer product safety experts, the journey ahead involves Senate consideration and, if successful, a significant delay before the mandatory standards take effect, potentially extending to at least another year.

    Despite the extended timeline, consumer product safety experts view this legislation as a crucial step. However, the process involves Senate deliberations and, as of now, there is no immediate information on its status. Regardless of the legislative outcome, the implementation of mandatory standards would represent a pivotal move to address the widespread issue of e-bike and e-scooter battery fires and associated risks.

  2. UK government publishes new guidance to enhance e-bike and e-scooter safety

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    Source: GOV.UK

    Guidance includes information on how to safely buy, store and charge e-cycles and e-scooters.

    Information around how to safely purchase, charge and use e-bikes and e-scooters has been published by the UK government to improve consumer safety.

    After thorough consultation with the industry, guidance on battery safety has been developed for both e-scooters and e-bikes, which aims to enhance awareness among owners regarding the safe purchase of e-cycles or e-scooters, ensuring compliance with manufacturing requirements, and promoting transactions with reputable sellers. The documents cover information on secure storage and charging, the warning signs for fire risk and how to address them, and responsible battery disposal. The guidance also emphasises that legal use of e-scooters on roads is restricted unless they are part of an official rental trial.

    Separate guidance has been issued to assist public transport operators in evaluating and managing fire risks associated with the transportation of e-bikes and e-scooters on trains and buses. Similar information has been produced for those managing premises such as schools and workplaces.

    Minister Anthony Browne, responsible for Technology and Decarbonisation, affirmed that “Safety has always been our top priority, which is why our latest guidance aims to improve the awareness of e-bike and e-scooter users in the trial areas where they’re authorised.”

    This announcement follows the Home Office’s advice on fire safety for e-scooters and e-bikes published last year. To further understand the safety of lithium-ion batteries used in e-cycles and e-scooters, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is presently conducting a safety study and taking enforcement measures when unsafe products are found.

    The extension of e-scooter trials until May 2026 will facilitate further insights across various areas, including usage, safety and environmental impacts, and the exploration of travel behaviour changes since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  3. BA and ACT release industry guidance for the UK on lithium fires and road legal e-bikes

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    Source: The Bicycle Association

    The two UK cycle industry trade associations, the Bicycle Association and the Association of Cycle Traders, have teamed up to release industry guidance on lithium battery fires and road legal e-bikes

    Everyone in the cycle industry will be aware of recent reports and headlines about e-bikes fires, some of which have, sadly, had tragic and even fatal consequences.

    Additionally, in recent months a number of fatal collisions have occurred on electric motorcycles which were generally referred to in the media as “e-bikes”.

    These reports risk giving the impression to the public, incorrectly in our view, that all such vehicles are unsafe. This could have serious repercussions, potentially putting at risk the growth potential of e-bikes as a transport and climate solution, and deterring e-bike customers at a time when market conditions are already challenging.

    Now, the two cycle industry trade bodies in the UK, the Bicycle Association and the Association of Cycle Traders, have issued guidance sheets for the industry, aiming to counter the often misleading media headlines.

    The first guidance note summarises statements from fire services and industry experts to clarify the distinction between e-bikes from the reputable industry (which are generally very safe) as opposed to e-bikes, conversion kits, batteries and chargers which may pose significant fire hazard if certain risk factors are present, for example being sourced from overseas via online marketplaces.

    The second guidance note clarifies exactly what is road legal as an e-bike – and makes clear the actual legal status of vehicles which are often incorrectly reported as e-bikes but which are in fact unregistered motorbikes.

    These documents are also available to download from the ACT at: https://cycleassociation.uk/e-bikes

    The BA and ACT hope this guidance will provide authoritative resources for the industry:

    Retailers, and others, can use the document on fire risk to reassure customers and potential customers that by buying through reputable industry channels they will maximise safety
    The fire risk document may also be a useful aid in responding to media enquiries, although companies may prefer to refer these to the national trade associations
    The document about road legal e-bikes will, the BA and ACT hope, provide useful clarity for industry, customers and media, to dispel public confusion about road-legal e-bikes vs other vehicle types.
    Any company in the cycle industry is welcome to use, print out or distribute these documents freely – but the BA and ACT request that they are not amended.

    Peter Eland, Technical and Policy Director at the Bicycle Association, said:

    “We hope these resources will set the record straight on the very safe products which our industry provides. Being clear and consistent about battery fire risk factors, and the law around e-bikes, is essential to get the message across.”

    Jonathan Harrison from the Association of Cycle Traders said:

    “There is a perception that has been allowed to develop that e-bikes are dangerous and it is simply not true. Let’s help educate owners to avoid e-bikes, batteries and chargers that do not meet UK safety standards, and boost awareness of the real safety benefits of buying from a specialist retailer.”

    This joint initiative with the ACT is the latest development in the Bicycle Association’s work on these issues. To date this has included:

    Instigating a cross-Government roundtable in March, bringing together Department for Transport, DEFRA, ROSPA, the Association for British Insurers and Active Travel England.
    Assisting the Department for Transport in developing guidance, which should be published shortly, for users, for premises managers and for public transport operators.
    Working closely with the Office for Product Safety and Standards and their researchers, ahead of recommendations being made for future regulation. Representatives from OPSS and their researchers have attended a number of Bicycle Association technical meetings, to take industry input.
    The BA has also engaged with the charity Electrical Safety First, which has been raising awareness of the fires issue and advocating urgent Government action.
    The BA has also worked extensively in conjunction with the DfT-backed Cycle Rail Working Group on continued e-bike access to trains and stations.
    The BA has made publicly available resources for the industry to assist with safe sourcing of batteries, their correct transport and storage. Also available on that link are press releases and statements making clear the industry position.
    The BA is piloting a battery collection and recycling scheme which will take waste batteries from retailers at no cost for safe and proper disposal.
    Finally, the BA has engaged regularly with the mainstream media in an effort to add the industry voice on the fire issue, and also to clarify what is a road legal e-bike and what is not.
    Further joint industry initiatives are under development and will be announced shortly, say the two trade associations.

  4. TRL decries use of the word “war” in UK discussions on road safety measures

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    Source: TRL, Dr. S. Helman

    In a recent article, TRL notes that UK speed limits are in the news once again, with articles featuring a common narrative. While those implementing the new ‘default 20mph’ policy in Wales have been discussing its safety benefits, parties that oppose it are describing it as a ‘war on the motorist‘.

    TRL believes that when UK politicians use the phrase ‘war on the motorist,’ they may assume they are using a phrase that is commonly used or that it has been revealed in focus groups as doing the best job of appealing to different viewpoints. The advisory organisation doubts that many using this phrase stop to think about its connotations, and gives examples of two ways the phrase is misguided and perhaps can be offensive.

    Firstly, it uses a word – ‘war’ – that is seen as synonymous with violence, with the meaning directed at car drivers who are relatively safe from harm in lower-speed collisions, instead of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users who are more likely to suffer violent injuries. TRL adds that injuries sustained by some vulnerable road users in collisions with vehicles can be similar to injuries sustained by combatants in wars and are often substantial (even at 30mph). They suggest that UK politicians can improve their credibility through language in this context. Instead of talking about a 20mph speed limit as a (figurative) ‘war on the motorist,’ they could discuss a 30mph limit as a (literal) ‘war on the pedestrian’ in terms of the injuries sustained from collisions.

    Secondly, TRL analyses data on deaths in service for the UK armed forces – on the people who fight in wars – and notes that historically ‘land traffic accidents’ are one of the top causes of death, even in years with active conflicts like the war in Afghanistan. When there is a backdrop of active conflict, the use of the word ‘war’ to describe the inconveniences of car drivers driving at 20mph could be seen as inappropriate, as road traffic collisions are a significant source of danger for people employed in real wars to protect national interests.

    TRL notes that if politicians advocate for higher speed limits, it could be seen as advocating for more collisions, and more severe injury outcomes. By using the phrase ‘war on the motorist’ it is suggested they not only offend but also draw attention away from the substantial injuries caused by road traffic collisions. It’s advised that more needs to be done in a wider debate about how language is used in this context by stakeholders.

    TRL states further that the real debate is larger than language. The question of why violence and injury from road traffic is not treated in the same way as violence and injury from other sources needs to be addressed – using a true systems-based approach with known evidence-based interventions. Others have also written on this broad challenge. In 2002 for example a whole issue of the British Medical Journal was devoted to it (editorial here). This paper from 2013 discusses the topic, focusing on societal acceptance of road traffic injury as an inevitable consequence of cars, and how its a necessary narrative for cars to stay dominant in the transport mix. TRL adds that, in 2023 there is now a more even narrative with, for example, emphasis on pedestrian protection being a core part of vehicle safety. In a world where road traffic collisions are killing around 5-6 times more people a year than asbestos-related diseases, a field in which it took decades for clear evidential links to be acted upon, there is clearly still a lot to be done.

    And even if the debate is larger than language, language is still important in the debate. TRL concludes that in British society, injury and death should be seen as avoidable violence, rather than use metaphors that defend a resistance to change. And it is hoped that those who walk and cycle around traffic all the time will see it literally slow down.

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

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    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.

  6. NIPV publishes 2020-22 report on LEV fires in the Netherlands

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    Source: NIPV

    The Netherlands Institute for Public Safety (NIPV) is the Dutch public research and knowledge institute that links and strengthens ties between the country’s 25 security regions, central government and partner organisations in the crisis management domain through its four service pillars – scientific research, education, support and information.

    The report introduces the fire risks associated with LEVs, mainly around technical faults and charging. Locations of incidents are mainly in the home, and the dangers of such fires are the blaze itself, as well as the toxic smoke. The report aims to review the ways in which such fires start, and better understand these causes.

    The summary records a total 327 LEV fires over a 2 year period, with 65% involving an electric scooter, electric bikes 24%, mobility scooters 7%, and hoverboards 4%. Most of the fires were caused by arson, which was the cause in 37% of the cases where the cause could be determined. In 35% of the cases, the fire was caused by a technical defect.

    The study notes that with increasing sales, we must be prepared that fires are likely to increase, and recommends as follows:

    “This trend calls for extra attention to the (fire) safety of LEVs by the manufacturers of these vehicles. However, building managers will also need to consider fire risks, such as managers of bicycle storage facilities where e-bikes and e-scooters are parked and managers of nursing homes where mobility scooters are stored. Additionally, individuals with hoverboards and e-scooters should consider the fire risks of their vehicles. Finally, sellers can contribute to the fire-safe behavior of consumers by providing targeted information on the safe use (maintenance, charging, storage) of LEVs.”

    Read the report in full, in Dutch, here.

  7. Amsterdam to measure the speed of e-bikes

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    Source: Tweewieler, H. Hoitink

    The municipality of Amsterdam is in consultation with the Dutch government about reducing the speed of e-bikes to 20 km/h to improve road safety. In preparation, they are counting the numbers and speed of e-bikes being ridden.

    The counts and measurements will take place at nine locations in the city, recording the types of bicycles being ridden and their speed. In addition, from Thursday 23 March, cameras have been installed to register near accidents. In order to gain insight into the effect on road safety of the many fast bicycles driving around in the capital, the municipality is starting a trial together with the ambulance service. They will also study the first-aid data of bicycle accidents in collaboration with Amsterdam’s hospitals.

    Speeding, tuned-up e-bikes and other electric vehicles have long been a thorn in the side of the city authorities, causing a lot of accidents and irritation. In addition, the municipality sees that traffic is changing: it is becoming busier on the cycle paths and the speed differences between cyclists are increasing. According to the municipality, this means that new agreements and rules are needed.

    In the eyes of the municipality of Amsterdam, one of the most obvious measures to make traffic safer is to limit the maximum speed. Alderman Melanie van der Horst mentioned a maximum speed of 20 km/h for e-bikes in an article in Het Parool . But reducing the speed on the cycle path is not as easy as it may seem. A maximum speed of 30 km/h will be introduced in many places in the city at the end of this year. According to the law, a lower maximum speed may not be used on a cycle path next to such a carriageway. Amsterdam is now in talks with the government to see if there is a way to make this possible.

  8. Incident data for shared e-scooters published by MMfE

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    Source: Eltis, J. Tewson

    Micro-mobility for Europe (MMfE), the EU association for shared micromobility providers, has released a first-of-its-kind factsheet on incident data.

    The factsheet (accessible here) combines incident data from the association’s six founding members: Bird, Bolt, Dott, Lime, Tier, and Voi. The association shared, “Our goal is to shed light on the debate around shared e-scooters safety by providing data in a transparent manner on the volume, severity of incidents, and their implications on the safety of road users. Ultimately, we hope these insights will help inform conversations and road safety policies in the EU that reduce incident risks for vulnerable road users, such as shared micro-mobility riders, and we are committed to continuing working closely with authorities to do so.

    Key findings, based on 240 million shared e-scooter trips:

    • When comparing 2021 to 2019, the risk of incidents that require medical attention has reduced by 60%.
    • In 2021, 5.1 injuries per million km travelled required medical assistance.
    • Fatality rates on shared e-scooters are thought to be about half those of private e-scooters.
    • Cyclists and shared e-scooter riders have a similar risk of fatal incidents. Shared e-scooter rider fatality risk is 20 times lower than that of moped riders.
    • The fatality risk for shared e-scooter use is 0.015 per 1 million km ridden.

    The factsheet makes a range of recommendations aimed at improving road safety for vulnerable users, including shared e-scooter riders. It is recommended that there is an investment in safe infrastructure; that e-scooter riders are acknowledged as vulnerable road users; that there is further enforcement of traffic rules by local authorities; and that incident reporting standards are harmonised across Europe.

    View the MMfE factsheet in its entirety, here.

  9. Cycling-related facial injuries do not vary between e-bikes and conventional bicycles

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    Source: Fietsberaad.nl

    As the usage of both e-bikes and conventional bikes increases, so does the number of bicycle-related injuries. New research explores whether e-bikes hold a larger share of facial injuries after an incident.

    Researchers at the Groningen University Medical Centre explored the nature of cycling-related facial injuries (maxillofacial fractures) and whether there are differences between those experienced by e-bike users or regular cyclists. The recently released paper will assist in emergency room injury treatment.

    311 patients were examined across 4 hospitals for the presence and severity of injury between May 2018 and October 2012. Of these patients, 73 were riders of e-bikes, and a range of other factors such as age and alcohol consumption were taken into consideration. In the sample, it appeared that e-bike riders more often suffered fractures to the centre of the face, while jaw fractures and serious dental injuries were more common for conventional cyclists.

    However, when results were corrected in line with additional factors, the conclusion was that patient-specific characteristics, such as age, alcohol use, and comorbidities (the simultaneous presence of two or more medical conditions), may have a greater influence on a rider sustaining maxillofacial fractures than the type of bicycle ridden.

    Based on the results, the researchers see reason to promote the use of bicycle helmets among the elderly and vulnerable cyclists, because it has been proven that their use reduces head injuries and has a protective effect against facial injuries and fractures.

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