Baloise crash test: when electric bikes are spotted too late

Basel, July 9, 2021. Bicycles fitted with an electric motor have become increasingly popular in recent years, and the coronavirus pandemic has boosted demand even more. Firstly, electric bikes offer a practical alternative to public transport. Secondly, Switzerland has seen a significant change in how people spend their leisure time and holidays: The Swiss have fallen back in love with spending time in the great outdoors. But how safe are electric bikes, and what might happen in the event of an accident? Baloise teamed up with Dynamic Test Center AG, the Basel traffic police, the Working Group on Accident Mechanics (AGU Zurich), Mercedes-Benz Trucks Schweiz AG and the Bike Factory to carry out a number of tests.

“There are more and more electric bikes on our roads. Today, we would like to recreate various situations in order to raise awareness about electric bikes among road users,” explains Daniel Junker, Head of Vehicle Experts at Baloise.

The first crash test recreates a collision between a car and an electric bike at a branch in the road. The car and the electric bike approach each other at a very tight angle. The driver is unable to see the cyclist or has only a very restricted view. Afterwards, Rolf Thommen, who heads up the Basel traffic police, analyses the scene of the accident: “In a scenario such as this, it is very difficult for the driver of the car to take the correct action as the restricted visibility means that they do not spot the cyclist in time and probably misjudge the bike’s speed.” 

Practical tests have been conducted that show how difficult it is to estimate the speed at which an electric bike is travelling. “An initial, quick glance often does not reveal that the bike is electric. Based on our past experience, we tend to assume that it is moving at the pace of a traditional bike and are then surprised at how soon it reaches us,” says Marius Bloch from Dynamic Test Center AG.

Further practical tests on the track show the difference between electric bikes that have been fitted with ABS and those that have not: “If an electric bike without ABS brakes suddenly, the front wheel will lock or slide sideways, leading to a fall. In the event of an emergency stop, an ABS system will also stop the rear wheel from rising up and the rider from being thrown over the handlebars. Although an electric bike with ABS is a bigger investment, it pays off very quickly if you bear in mind that it can prevent a fall,” states Jean-Marie Unterrassner from the Bike Factory.

The second crash test highlights the blind spot problem. In a simulated accident at a junction, the electric bike rider passes the truck at 25 km/h on the right, entering the truck driver’s blind spot. The truck turns right at this moment, hitting the cyclist. “In a scenario like this, the cyclist is unlikely to survive the accident, or only with severe injuries,” explains Markus Muser from AGU Zurich. 

“It is vital to make cyclists and pedestrians aware of this problem. The latest technology now includes assistance systems that help to make the blind spot more visible, but they are by no means fitted on all trucks. Cyclists and pedestrians alike therefore need to assume that the driver cannot see them and must take extra care,” concludes Daniel Junker from Baloise.

If you would like to observe a Baloise crash test in person, please send your contact details to media.relations@baloise.com.
 

The Baloise Group is more than just a traditional insurance company. The changing security, safety and service needs of society in the digital age lie at the heart of its business activities. The 7,700 or so employees of Baloise therefore focus on the wishes of their customers. The best possible customer service, combined with innovative products and services, makes Baloise the first choice for people who want to feel ‘simply safe’. Located at the heart of Europe, with its head office in Basel, the Baloise Group is a provider of prevention, pension, assistance and insurance solutions. Its core markets are Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. In Switzerland, with Baloise Bank SoBa, the Group also operates as a specialised financial services provider, offering a combination of insurance and banking services. The Group offers innovative pension products to retail customers throughout Europe from its competence centre in Luxembourg. Bâloise Holding Ltd shares are listed in the main segment of the SIX Swiss Exchange.

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