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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.