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Deaths are on the rise among the e-bike brigade

Older cyclists in Holland are being warned that electric bikes can be dangerous, after a spate of road deaths in the country.

More people in the Netherlands are being killed every year riding an e-bike than a moped, and the elderly are particularly at risk.

Dutch police now say that those wanting to make the switch to a powered bike should have to take part in a safety course first.

“People are staying mobile for longer and are more likely to go for an e-bike,” Egbert-Jan van Hasselt, who heads the Dutch police road safety unit, told the Dutch newspaper AD.

“In itself, that’s nice because it’s healthy. But unfortunately some of the elderly lack the ability. [It is] not a normal bike.”

Last year 629 people died in road accidents in the Netherlands - 189 were cyclists and 28 were on e-bikes. In the last three years at least 79 people were killed in road accidents when on an e-bike, of whom 87% were over the age of 60.

Van Hasselt said: “It would be good if more people follow a course. Because the e-bike is not a regular bike. It gives you an extra boost, and that sometimes happens unexpectedly. As a result, you can tremble, swing and sometimes even fall.

“On the bike path you used to be [with] just like-minded people, people at the same pace. But now we see e-bikes, ordinary bikes, superfast electric bikes and bicycles. In short, it has become more dangerous. Wear a helmet, especially if you are older.”

According to UK law, you can ride an electric bike in England, Scotland and Wales if you’re 14 or over, as long as it meets certain requirements.

These electric bikes are known as ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ (EAPCs). You don’t need a licence to ride one and it doesn’t need to be registered, taxed or insured.

Its electric motor must have a maximum power output of 250 watts and should not be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph.

If a bike meets the EAPC requirements it’s classed as a normal pedal bike. This means you can ride it on cycle paths and anywhere else pedal bikes are allowed.

If you’re thinking of investing in an e-bike, check out our buyer’s guide.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

17 comments

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fenix [837 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

How fast are e bikes in Holland ? What's super fast ?

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multifrag [92 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
fenix wrote:

How fast are e bikes in Holland ? What's super fast ?

15.5mph(top assisted speed).

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fenix [837 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes

The article says that they have normal bikes e bikes and super fast electric bikes. What's causing the issue - the super fast ones or the normal ?

I think the normal rules governing e bikes have it about right and that kind of speed shouldn't cause too many issues.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1892 posts] 2 months ago
5 likes

What is the difference between "e-bikes" and "superfast electric bikes" and between "ordinary bikes" and "bicycles"?

What is the nature of the accidents the older cyclist are having?

This story is very confusing.

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ashliejay [73 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
fenix wrote:

How fast are e bikes in Holland ? What's super fast ?

the "super fast" E-bikes will be speed pedelecs, which can go upto 45km/h and legally they are  essentially electric mopeds.

 

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FrankH [74 posts] 2 months ago
7 likes

"In the last three years at least 79 people were killed in road accidents when on an e-bike, of whom 87% were over the age of 60."

"Lies, damn lies and statistics".

The first question that occurred to me: Do we know if that is because over 60s can't control ebikes properly or is it because 87% of the people on ebikes are over 60?

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Yorkshire wallet [1576 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

The problem they are having is the same one they are having driving cars.....they are old and can't do shit like they used to....except having accidents.

I'd hazard a guess that if older people are talking up the e-bike then they probably aren't the sort that's being staying fit and riding anyway. They say you never forget to how to ride a bike but I wouldn't bet on it. If I stuck my mother on any bike I'd doubt she'd last a day. 

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Awavey [358 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
FrankH wrote:

"In the last three years at least 79 people were killed in road accidents when on an e-bike, of whom 87% were over the age of 60."

"Lies, damn lies and statistics".

The first question that occurred to me: Do we know if that is because over 60s can't control ebikes properly or is it because 87% of the people on ebikes are over 60?

agreed, and I suspect its the latter, but I mean thats almost the key bit to understand because how can you prescribe extra training for a bike if you dont understand whats causing the issue in the first place.

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Ush [1018 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes
FrankH wrote:

"In the last three years at least 79 people were killed in road accidents when on an e-bike, of whom 87% were over the age of 60."

"Lies, damn lies and statistics".

The first question that occurred to me: Do we know if that is because over 60s can't control ebikes properly or is it because 87% of the people on ebikes are over 60?

Nail on the head.  The whole story is absolutely effing meaningless without this information.

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BehindTheBikesheds [993 posts] 2 months ago
5 likes

I already presented evidence (to the ECF) regarding a dramatic rise in deaths in the 3 over 60s age groups for 2016 compared to 2007, that was bucking the trend of reduced deaths for all other age groups in NL. They didn't even bother replying despite their continued pressing for e-bikes without looking at the negatives and why increases in KSIs for those groups purchasing them in hugely greater numbers. One poster on here starting shouting the odds about how I needed to have a peer reviewed paper when the stats were pretty bloody obvious what the issue was.

However, these people are still active, well into their 80s in many cases, unlike our already dead or sedentary/rotting in a care home 80+year olds!

Road safety 'experts' and EU commision still use absolute numbers to prove not wearing helmets in NL is a massive problem, but then completely ignore the facts regading exposure and massively the greater health of the elderly and all other age groups compared to anywhere else.

Netherlands stands at 900 cycling kilometers per inhabitant, Germany  is 368 km per inhabitant, in England only 75 km. https://nltimes.nl/2016/04/12/netherlands-cyclists-likely-eu-hurt-traffic

Now, whose country is still presenting the greater risk of death and also increased mortality due to poor health/sedentary lifestyles. The Dutch save €60 in health expenditure for every 1€ spent on infra.

Yeah, the dutch are doing it all wrong (e-bike issues aside)

 

 

 

Avatar
Rich_cb [498 posts] 2 months ago
4 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

I already presented evidence (to the ECF) regarding a dramatic rise in deaths in the 3 over 60s age groups for 2016 compared to 2007, that was bucking the trend of reduced deaths for all other age groups in NL. They didn't even bother replying despite their continued pressing for e-bikes without looking at the negatives and why increases in KSIs for those groups purchasing them in hugely greater numbers. One poster on here starting shouting the odds about how I needed to have a peer reviewed paper when the stats were pretty bloody obvious what the issue was.

However, these people are still active, well into their 80s in many cases, unlike our already dead or sedentary/rotting in a care home 80+year olds!

Road safety 'experts' and EU commision still use absolute numbers to prove not wearing helmets in NL is a massive problem, but then completely ignore the facts regading exposure and massively the greater health of the elderly and all other age groups compared to anywhere else.

Netherlands stands at 900 cycling kilometers per inhabitant, Germany  is 368 km per inhabitant, in England only 75 km. https://nltimes.nl/2016/04/12/netherlands-cyclists-likely-eu-hurt-traffic

Now, whose country is still presenting the greater risk of death and also increased mortality due to poor health/sedentary lifestyles. The Dutch save €60 in health expenditure for every 1€ spent on infra.

Yeah, the dutch are doing it all wrong (e-bike issues aside)

 

 

 

Unfortunately the raw numbers are meaningless without context.

The over 60 age group is growing rapidly so an increase in the absolute number of deaths is entirely expected.

Also, if there was a problem with e bikes and the over 60s then why has the 70-79 age group been spared? There is no significant rise in the number of deaths of that age group.

I've included an English version of your chart for those of us whose Dutch is a little rusty.

Avatar
Jitensha Oni [97 posts] 2 months ago
3 likes
Rich_cb wrote:
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

I already presented evidence (to the ECF) regarding a dramatic rise in deaths in the 3 over 60s age groups for 2016 compared to 2007, that was bucking the trend of reduced deaths for all other age groups in NL. They didn't even bother replying despite their continued pressing for e-bikes without looking at the negatives and why increases in KSIs for those groups purchasing them in hugely greater numbers. One poster on here starting shouting the odds about how I needed to have a peer reviewed paper when the stats were pretty bloody obvious what the issue was.

However, these people are still active, well into their 80s in many cases, unlike our already dead or sedentary/rotting in a care home 80+year olds!

Road safety 'experts' and EU commision still use absolute numbers to prove not wearing helmets in NL is a massive problem, but then completely ignore the facts regading exposure and massively the greater health of the elderly and all other age groups compared to anywhere else.

Netherlands stands at 900 cycling kilometers per inhabitant, Germany  is 368 km per inhabitant, in England only 75 km. https://nltimes.nl/2016/04/12/netherlands-cyclists-likely-eu-hurt-traffic

Now, whose country is still presenting the greater risk of death and also increased mortality due to poor health/sedentary lifestyles. The Dutch save €60 in health expenditure for every 1€ spent on infra.

Yeah, the dutch are doing it all wrong (e-bike issues aside)

 

 

 

Unfortunately the raw numbers are meaningless without context. The over 60 age group is growing rapidly so an increase in the absolute number of deaths is entirely expected. Also, if there was a problem with e bikes and the over 60s then why has the 70-79 age group been spared? There is no significant rise in the number of deaths of that age group. I've included an English version of your chart for those of us whose Dutch is a little rusty.

 

I think you're both not far off saying the same thing. Your (Rich_cb) statement seems the more consistent of the two, but big kudos to BTBS  for initiating the provision of some actual data.

As you say, context matters - do we know how many of the over 60's e-bike deaths took place on cycle paths, and whether or not they were a result of collisions - as opposed to e.g. medical emergencies?

Avatar
ChairRDRF [366 posts] 2 months ago
3 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

I already presented evidence (to the ECF) regarding a dramatic rise in deaths in the 3 over 60s age groups for 2016 compared to 2007, that was bucking the trend of reduced deaths for all other age groups in NL. They didn't even bother replying despite their continued pressing for e-bikes without looking at the negatives and why increases in KSIs for those groups purchasing them in hugely greater numbers. One poster on here starting shouting the odds about how I needed to have a peer reviewed paper when the stats were pretty bloody obvious what the issue was.

However, these people are still active, well into their 80s in many cases, unlike our already dead or sedentary/rotting in a care home 80+year olds!

Road safety 'experts' and EU commision still use absolute numbers to prove not wearing helmets in NL is a massive problem, but then completely ignore the facts regading exposure and massively the greater health of the elderly and all other age groups compared to anywhere else.

Netherlands stands at 900 cycling kilometers per inhabitant, Germany  is 368 km per inhabitant, in England only 75 km. https://nltimes.nl/2016/04/12/netherlands-cyclists-likely-eu-hurt-traffic

Now, whose country is still presenting the greater risk of death and also increased mortality due to poor health/sedentary lifestyles. The Dutch save €60 in health expenditure for every 1€ spent on infra.

Yeah, the dutch are doing it all wrong (e-bike issues aside)

 

 

The real point here is that when the elderly (especially over 80s and also over 70s), get in ANY KIND of collision they are much more prone to death and more severe injury than younger people are. There is no especial problem with cycling, electrically assisted or not. 

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [993 posts] 2 months ago
3 likes
ChairRDRF wrote:
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

I already presented evidence (to the ECF) regarding a dramatic rise in deaths in the 3 over 60s age groups for 2016 compared to 2007, that was bucking the trend of reduced deaths for all other age groups in NL. They didn't even bother replying despite their continued pressing for e-bikes without looking at the negatives and why increases in KSIs for those groups purchasing them in hugely greater numbers. One poster on here starting shouting the odds about how I needed to have a peer reviewed paper when the stats were pretty bloody obvious what the issue was.

However, these people are still active, well into their 80s in many cases, unlike our already dead or sedentary/rotting in a care home 80+year olds!

Road safety 'experts' and EU commision still use absolute numbers to prove not wearing helmets in NL is a massive problem, but then completely ignore the facts regading exposure and massively the greater health of the elderly and all other age groups compared to anywhere else.

Netherlands stands at 900 cycling kilometers per inhabitant, Germany  is 368 km per inhabitant, in England only 75 km. https://nltimes.nl/2016/04/12/netherlands-cyclists-likely-eu-hurt-traffic

Now, whose country is still presenting the greater risk of death and also increased mortality due to poor health/sedentary lifestyles. The Dutch save €60 in health expenditure for every 1€ spent on infra.

Yeah, the dutch are doing it all wrong (e-bike issues aside)

 

 

The real point here is that when the elderly (especially over 80s and also over 70s), get in ANY KIND of collision they are much more prone to death and more severe injury than younger people are. There is no especial problem with cycling, electrically assisted or not. 

You fail to grasp how things work.

if you have an overall decline in danger presented to people on bikes - absolute numbers going down across all age groups but only three specific age groups show a very large % increase conversely to the reduction in all the others, there most definitely IS a correlation. 

Deaths in the older age groups due to them being more fragile when falling off bikes would already show up in previous years, in fact more so if medically related because standard bike users would be more prone to exertion related deaths comparative to e-bike users in older age groups.

And yet the only groups that are purchasing e-bikes in huge, huge numbers (45% and up) are the only groups to go in the complete opposite direction with regards to deaths. As i said, you cannot use the older persons medical frailty or their frailty from falls because that would simply show a like for like drop across all age groups if there is no intervention/something changed.

The ONLY change is e-bikes, the roads/environ are safer because all the other groups are reducing death numbers across that 9 year period, so it can't be medical, it can't be fragility for the reason i explained, so it must by definition be the e-bikes.

Even Michael Coalville-Anderson wrote about this a ouple of years ago http://www.copenhagenize.com/2014/02/the-e-bike-sceptic.html

In my opinion, it is the faster speed that is more easily attained,  some e-bikes (& we're talking the non speed variants) exceed the 15.5mph (illegally so). Many Dutch cyclists of a certain age will not have cycled at those speeds for many, many years. You also have the added weight and momentum (kinetic energy) which means further to stop and the inability of some older people to judge all of that.

Avatar
Helmut D. Bate [86 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

I like to think that the Dutch oldies, on experiencing the first symptom of a coronary/stroke, jump on their pedelec to A&E, and that explains the spike in the unfortunates.

The rest, as soon as they are out of intensive care, revert to tearing up the Dutch Alps on their uprights.

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Rich_cb [498 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

You fail to grasp how things work.

if you have an overall decline in danger presented to people on bikes - absolute numbers going down across all age groups but only three specific age groups show a very large % increase conversely to the reduction in all the others, there most definitely IS a correlation. 

Deaths in the older age groups due to them being more fragile when falling off bikes would already show up in previous years, in fact more so if medically related because standard bike users would be more prone to exertion related deaths comparative to e-bike users in older age groups.

And yet the only groups that are purchasing e-bikes in huge, huge numbers (45% and up) are the only groups to go in the complete opposite direction with regards to deaths. As i said, you cannot use the older persons medical frailty or their frailty from falls because that would simply show a like for like drop across all age groups if there is no intervention/something changed.

The ONLY change is e-bikes, the roads/environ are safer because all the other groups are reducing death numbers across that 9 year period, so it can't be medical, it can't be fragility for the reason i explained, so it must by definition be the e-bikes.

Even Michael Coalville-Anderson wrote about this a ouple of years ago http://www.copenhagenize.com/2014/02/the-e-bike-sceptic.html

In my opinion, it is the faster speed that is more easily attained,  some e-bikes (& we're talking the non speed variants) exceed the 15.5mph (illegally so). Many Dutch cyclists of a certain age will not have cycled at those speeds for many, many years. You also have the added weight and momentum (kinetic energy) which means further to stop and the inability of some older people to judge all of that.

You've misunderstood relative and absolute risk again.

If cycling is getting safer but more people are cycling then the absolute number of fatalities can still rise.

The number of people over 60 is increasing rapidly compared to other age demographics, add to that the fact that e bikes allow more of that group to cycle and the 'at risk' population has increased massively.

That could easily cause an increase in the absolute number of deaths even if the risk per km cycled was decreasing.

There is also no significant rise in the 70-79 age group which completely undermines your theory regarding the 60-69 age group.

As a final point even if e-bikes were responsible for more deaths in crashes they may still present a public health benefit as the increase in cycling may lead to a greater reduction in mortality from other causes.

Avatar
FrankH [74 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

What does it matter if the over 60s are dying on e-bikes? They're going to die of something pretty soon anyway. angel

(BTW, I'm 68 so well inside the over 60 group. )