E-bike boom is ongoing
Less than a decade ago, they were rarely seen on Swiss roads, but today they're a permanent fixture: e-bikes. According to velosuisse, the Swiss association of bicycle suppliers, every third bicycle sold in 2019 had a motor. The advantages of e-bikes are obvious: they relieve congestion on the roads, are good for the environment, stimulate our cardiovascular system and are perfect for weekend cycle tours.
Rising number of accidents
Yes, the e-bike trend is good. But the rise in popularity of e-bikes goes hand in hand with a rising number of accidents. According to the «Status 2019» report published by the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (BFU):
This is considerably less than the number of people seriously injured in pedal bike accidents (2018: 877 people). This is because many more people still ride a conventional bicycle, meaning that the number of accidents is also higher. But the continuous increase in e-bike accidents makes it important for cyclists and other road users to be aware of the risks posed by e-bikes. Using the same strength, you ride considerably faster on an e-bike than on a normal bicycle. As the speed is higher, the braking distance is also longer and there is less time to react to the unexpected. Other road users such as motorists often notice fast e-bikes too late or don't realise that they're not just conventional bicycles. As a result, their speed is slightly underestimated.
3 tips for more safety
Choose the right model
Before buying an e-bike, you should know exactly for what purpose you want to use the bike. Whether to commute to work on tarmac roads or ride trails in the Swiss forest: with the right tyres, good brakes and correct pedal assistance you are best equipped for safe riding. Models with an ABS system are particularly safe as they prevent the front wheel from locking. It’s worthwhile asking for advice at the bicycle shop and test driving as many models as possible.
Ride with foresight
Riding an e-bike is fast, leaving little time to react. It’s therefore a good idea to focus fully on riding, to always be prepared for the unexpected, and to keep an eye on what's going on around you. This applies to road traffic as well as to e-biking on forest and field paths. Pedestrians too are often unaware of the speed of an oncoming e-bike.
For e-bikers, it's important to be equipped with enough light, not only at night but also during the day. So always switch on the light on your bike! A reflective vest or reflective tape on your clothes and helmet will further improve visibility and thus also your safety.
A good helmet protecting you from head injury is just as important as maximum visibility. Bicycle helmets should be replaced as indicated by the manufacturer, or after five years at the latest. When a helmet has received a hard blow, it must be replaced immediately. A helmet meeting the EN 1078 standard should always be worn when riding an e-bike, even for short distances! It’s absolutely essential get the right fit, because even the best bicycle helmet can't protect you if it doesn’t fit properly.