Bicycles: Safely on Tour on Two Wheels

More and more road users are turning to the two-wheeler. There is now a huge selection of bicyles, e-bikes an co. that score with high tech. In addition, more and more cities are pushing cycling to promote climate protection. However, there ist still a need for action on raod safety for two-wheelers.

TTwo-wheelers run the risk of serious injury in single-vehicle accidents and especially in collisions. Photo: Shutterstock - Werner Lerooy

Two-wheelers run the risk to sustain severe injuries in single-vehicle accidents and especially in collisions. Photo: Shutterstock – Werner Lerooy

Getting mobile on two wheels always comes with a higher risk of suffering a severe accident than traveling by car, van, or truck. As road users with little to no protection, riders of two-wheeled vehicles are usually the ones who come off worst in case of a collision.

For years, around 25 percent of all those who have died in road traffic accidents worldwide have been users of motorized and non-motorized two-wheeled vehicles. The figures for the EU are similar: in Germany, for example, around a third of all road users killed in 2019 lost their lives after suffering an accident while riding a bicycle or motorbike. By way of comparison, figures from 2017 – the latest data available – show that users of two-wheeled vehicles accounted for around 16 percent of all the people who lost their lives on the road in the USA. For decades, however, accident rates have been highest in heavily populated developing and newly industrialized countries, where mass mobility on two-wheeled vehicles is a prominent feature of the society.

Motorcyclists have a higher risk of being killed in an accident

So how much greater is your risk of dying in a road accident in Germany, for example, if you ride a motorcycle instead of driving a car? We can assess this by comparing the number of deaths to the number of registrations for the vehicle type in question. The number of deaths among motorcyclists was 605; around 4.5 million motorcycles were registered. The number of deaths among car drivers and passengers was 1,364; around 47.7 million cars were registered. This means that, for every 100,000 vehicles registered, 13 motorcyclists and three car drivers/passengers lost their lives. This disparity becomes even more stark when we take into account the fact that motorcycles have a far lower mileage. The EU Commission was already saying years ago that the chance of being killed on the road was around 18 times higher per kilometer covered for motorcyclists than for those traveling by car. Incidentally, the EU Commission calculated this risk as being seven times higher for cyclists.

1885: Daimler Reitwagen (first motorcycle). Photo; Imago/Schöning Berlin 1895 - Ogden Bolton (USA) files first patent for “new and useful improvement in electrical bicycles”. Photo: Imago/imagebroker 1915-1922 - In 1915, the Autoped Company manufactures a pedal scooter powered by a combustion engine or electric motor; Krupp acquires the license and continues producing the model under the name “Krupp-Roller” in Germany from 1919 to 1922 (the first e-scooter). Photo: Imago/Michael Kniffel 1938 - DKW introduces the 125 ccm cubic capacity class as standard, followed by the development of larger capacity classes after the Second World War. Photo: Imago/VIADATA 1968 - Development of the Trott helmet by Karl-Heinz Trott (first bicycle helmet for mass sports). Photo: Imago/WEREK 1969 - First motorcycle with front hydraulic disc brakes (Honda CB750 Four). Photo: Imago/Dinendra Haria 1992 - Traction control for motorcycles (Honda Pan European). Photo: Imago/i Images 2000 - BMW C1, the first two-wheeled vehicle with an enclosed design to protect the driver. Photo: Imago/United Archives International 2017 - Start of the e-scooter boom in the EU and the USA. Photo: Imago/Sven Simon

These few figures alone show that there is still a drastic need for action when it comes to road safety for users of two-wheeled vehicles, particularly as mobility on two wheels is likely to increase even further in the next few years. This applies to both motorcyclists – be they leisure bikers or commuters – and, in particular, to cyclists and users of electrically assisted bikes. According to data published by the ZIV, an association for the bicycle industry in Germany, bicycles and e-bikes are the perfect modes of transport for short and medium-distance journeys. The ZIV also states that, according to the results of several studies, freight bicycles could account for around 50 percent of all motorized goods transport in cities in the future. However, the more cyclists there are on the roads, the harder it will be to find a suitable way of apportioning the available road space – a division that still heavily favors cars in many areas of the world. Another source of potential conflict is also emerging alongside this familiar “battleground”: the increase in micro-mobility, which is the term used to refer to people using personal light electric vehicles such as e-scooters and self-balancing vehicles such as Segways to get around.

The fact is, as road users with no cabin to protect them, riders of two-wheeled vehicles are always in danger of suffering severe or even fatal injuries if they become involved in a single-vehicle accident or a collision with another vehicle. In this context, it seems sensible – among other important actions –  to take a moment to familiarize ourselves with a few of the physical peculiarities of two-wheeled vehicles as a mode of transport.

More about the physical characteristics of two-wheelers and an overview of the classification of bicycle and e-bike/pedelec/S-pedelec as well as motorcycle can be found here.
You can find the complete DEKRA Road Safety Report 2020 here.

The DEKRA Micro Mobility Standard: Safety for E-Scooters and Similar Vehicles

Current safety standards and regulations for the use of new mobility options differ not just from one country to the next, but often even from city to city. Regulations on the safety of these options play a key role. While many see micro-mobility as one of the pillars of the mobility concepts of the future, the new vehicles also add new risks to traffic situations that are already very complicated.

As a comprehensive approach to safety and sustainability for e-scooters and similar vehicles, DEKRA has drawn up a standard for safe micro-mobility. E-scooter rental company Circ, which has since been taken over by Bird, was an important partner during this process. The standard covers more than 120 individual inspection points, which are split into eight different areas. The system assesses the mobility options from every important perspective. The main target groups for these bundled expert services are “Mobility as a service” providers such as e-scooter rental companies, and towns and cities where such rental services are available.

DEKRA’s experts put the following eight areas under the microscope – depending on the local legal requirements, where applicable:

1. A Technical design of the vehicles:
Frame and wheels, brakes, lights, handling, electrical safety, battery safety, pollution, electromagnetic compatibility, functional safety, wireless connections.
2. Production, transport, and assembly of the vehicles, plus placement into circulation based on a general type approval:
Quality management, health and safety at work, environmental protection.
3. Authorities, insurance, and infrastructure:
Insurance coverage, marked/permitted parking areas, geo-fencing (e.g. in order to prevent use in pedestrianized areas), age limit for users.
4. IT security and data protection:
Data security, network security, data pro­tection.
5. Training and user conduct:
User training via app/online, recommendations for safety gear (helmet), information on applicable road use regulations, responsible marketing.
6. Vehicle use:
Provision of the vehicles, incorporation into local transport networks, accident reporting and investigation, environmental standards.
7. Maintenance and storage:
Maintenance intervals for vehicles and charging infrastructure, damage reporting and repairs, feedback for vehicle development, employee training, safety at work, fire protection.
8. Recycling:
Life cycle, recycling of materials, reuse of parts. Every one of us in this society has a duty to uphold and maintain road safety. DEKRA’s contribution to this cause is invaluable.

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