E-bikes are taking over our cities

In its Risk Pulse "The city of the future belongs to cyclists" published today, Allianz explains how urban mobility is changing as a result of the rapid increase in "e-bike" and "bike-sharing" programs. According to Navigant Research annual e-bike sales figures are set to rise by 27 per cent to 40.3 million, and already today there are more than 700 bike-sharing systems across 57 countries. Around the globe cities are encouraging bike-sharing to improve quality of life and to continue the battle against excessive air pollution, a health problem killing seven million people every year (source: WHO).

China far in the lead

At present, people aged 50+ are still most likely to use electronically powered bikes, but young professionals who are able to travel longer distances to work on their e-bikes without exerting themselves, are beginning to set a new trend. In Germany, in 2014, approx. 480,000 e-bikes were sold (+17 per cent compared to 2013). Globally, more than 30 million were sold – 85 per cent of these in China. The country also boosts the largest bike-sharing program: in Hangzhou 78,000 bicycles are available for hire, whereas the most successful European programs account for 20,000 (Paris) and 10,000 bikes (London) respectively.
As of this month, the most bicycle-friendly city in the world is Copenhagen (source: Copenhagenize Index 2015), which recently knocked the cycling capital Amsterdam off the top spot. Berlin – Germany's most bike-friendly city – is currently ranked 12th.

Accident risks for e-bikes

The German police departments have only been separating their official record of bicycle accidents into standard bicycles, pedelecs   and e-bikes since 2014. "In the near future we expect to have meaningful results about the frequency of accidents involving electronic bicycles, but there is something to be gleaned from the statistics available today: two-wheelers are particularly at risk. Globally, they make up one fifth of all traffic fatalities", explains Joerg Kubitzki, safety researcher at the Allianz Center for Technology . “Even though we don't yet know what proportion are e-bikes, there's no doubt that the risk of an accident will increase in line with how often people use these new bikes – not just in their free time, but also as a daily mode of transport.”
Bicycle Risk Pulse
Download Bicycle Risk Pulse
The term e-bike is used as an umbrella term for electric bikes. Approx. 95 per cent of these are accounted for by "Pedelecs" which have an electric motor assistance system which cuts out once a maximum of 25 km/h has been reached. "Genuine" e-bikes by contrast are motorcycles with insurance plates which do not need registration and can reach speeds of up to 45 km/h.

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Bettina Sattler
Allianz SE
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