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E-bikes good option for those older and less healthy

A recent study has shown that older riders, along with those with health conditions, are just as safe on an e-bike as their younger and fitter brethren.

E-bikes are comparatively heavy, and with power assistance on tap, can be considerably faster than an older or health-challenged person might typically manage.

The question in road safety circles has been: are these riders is potentially at risk of crash involvement, and when they crash are the injuries likely to be more severe?

A group of researchers in the Netherlands (including Dr Elliot Fishman from Melbourne) looked at emergency department data, comparing riders of conventional bikes with e-bike riders.

They found that while e-bike riders did have poorer health status than conventional bike riders, that health status was unrelated to the likelihood and severity of bicycle crashes.

Electric bicycles enabled more vulnerable groups to cycle or keep cycling, but they were not more likely to be involved in a crash or to sustain severe injuries.

However older females did run a higher risk on an electric bike and were more likely to fall while mounting and dismounting.

Electric bike users were more likely to need medications and have a higher Body Mass Index. However, the outcomes of this study do not suggest that poor health contributes to crash likelihood.

An exception to these general conclusions regarding health condition was that cyclists reporting balance or coordination problems and using anti-epileptic drugs were more likely to be involved in a bicycle crash for which treatment at an ED was needed.

The researchers pointed out that the more recent technological advance of placing the electric motors in the cranks rather than the front wheel may improve the balance of e-bikes.

Taken overall the report is good news for older people and those with poorer health status.

They can safely take up riding on an e-bike, and enjoy many of the benefits that bike riding brings.

You can read the full report here.

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