E-bikes and injury prevention

The ever-problematic struggle between mobility and safety is not exclusive to motorised jurisdictions such as Australia or the United States. Indeed emerging evidence suggests that developing nations are particularly vulnerable as they struggle to develop, implement and enforce road rule strategies to minimise risks to safety whilst maximising the nation’s mobility. Whilst worldwide the demand for E-bikes (whether they feature pedals or resemble scooters) rises, China currently accounts for 90% of the global market.

In China, E-bikes are considered to be a non-motorised vehicle, and riders are not required to wear helmets. A recent observational study of of over 18,000 E-bike rider on-road behaviour, including observation of any safety equipment worn by E-bike riders, found that:

* 26.6% of riders violated road rules, for example 12.4% carried passengers, 4.8% were observed to ride through red lights and 3.4% rode against the traffic direction, suggesting a need for both education and enforcement initiatives; and

* 41.1% of riders were observed to wear at least one item of protective gear (mainly gloves) however only 9.0% were observed to wear a helmet, suggesting the need to introduce mandatory legislation supported by evidence that helmets reduce both the incidence and severity of injury, in addition to education regarding the importance of protective gear for two-wheeler riders in particular.

In addition, the Authors note the potential for E-bikes to be legislated as motorised vehicles, notwithstanding the contentious nature of this debate. Read more at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23877004

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