“Today, we will be putting electric scooters and cargo bikes through their paces. First, we will be recreating an accident between a pedestrian and an electric scooter. In the second scenario, we will have an electric cargo bike carrying two children collide with a stationary vehicle,” says Daniel Junker, Head of Vehicle Experts at Baloise, explaining the schedule for the day. Baloise has been carrying out vehicle crash tests in partnership with DTC AG for over ten years for prevention and awareness-raising purposes.
This year, the tests are highly topical: electric scooters and cargo bikes are extremely popular right now and have become a firm fixture in our cities during the summer months. While the practical benefit is not disputed, the way in which they are used in traffic is causing controversy. Riders are not always clear about the applicable road traffic laws. “We are concerned that users of these vehicles often do not adhere to basic traffic rules,” says Ivan Minuz, section head at Basel police. Around half of accidents occur under the influence of alcohol or because riders are ignoring traffic rules. “Electric scooters must only be used in areas where bicycles are permitted, such as cycle lanes. Using them in areas that are solely for use by pedestrians, such as the pavement, is prohibited,” Minuz adds.
In the first test, an electric scooter travelling at its maximum speed of 20 km/h collides with a pedestrian. “The pedestrian might suffer injuries to the knees and hips, or fractures to the legs, and the heads of the pedestrian and the scooter rider clash. There is a significant risk of head or brain trauma, even with a helmet on“, says Markus Muser of the Working Group on Accident Mechanics (AGU), analysing the outcome of the accident.
In the second accident scenario, an electric cargo bike collides with a stationary car at 25 km/h. Cargo bikes are used to transport goods, but often also children. In this scenario, there are two child-sized dummies in the cargo box. “ The children hit the rear of the car with their heads, closely followed by the adult. The belts are clearly not designed to safety-belt standards and offer no protection to the children. Quite the opposite, the torn belt creates an additional hazard. All three suffer head injuries, with the children at greatest risk,” says Muser.
“The popularity of electric scooters and cargo bikes means they will continue to generate debate. It is hugely important that we actively monitor this trend with the aim of preventing accidents. We cannot allow the number of road traffic accidents to increase,” says Sandro Caviezel of DTC AG.
In the case of electric scooters, it is particularly important to ensure that riders consistently follow the traffic rules. This includes not riding on the pavement or under the influence of alcohol. Thoughtless parking must also be addressed, as time and again electric scooters become a trip hazard for people with visual or physical impairments. And rental companies should be encouraged to equip their scooters with indicators and to inform their users of the applicable traffic laws.
“In the case of electric cargo bikes, we want to raise awareness of the dangers that passengers in the cargo box are exposed to in the event of an accident. We call on all road traffic users to drive with care,” says Daniel Junker from Baloise.
If you would like to observe a Baloise car crash test in person, please send your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further pictures are available on demand.