Big spike in cycling injuries linked to aging population, e-bikes

The number of serious injuries sustained in cycling accidents increased significantly over the past years. Last year 46,800 thousand cyclists had serious injuries treated in an emergency room, 31 percent more than in 2009, according to figures from VeiligheidNL. The safety expertise center mainly attribute the increase to the aging population and electric bikes.

According to VeiligheidNL, people injured in cycling accidents are relatively often young people and older people. The victims in over 40 percent of last year's emergency room visits were 55 years old or older. Older people are more likely to suffer serious injuries than young people.

Accidents on e-bikes more often lead to serious injuries than an accident on a normal bike, but this effect disappears when corrected for age and gender, VeiligheidNL said. E-bike riders are mainly older cyclists - the group that is already most likely to sustain serious injuries on any type of bicycle. "This means that the electric bicycle is on average no more dangerous than a normal bicycle, but the elderly cycle more often and further with an electric bicycle."

Due to the aging population in the Netherlands, VeiligheidNL expects that the increasing trend in the number of serious injuries will continue in the coming years. 

In 68 percent of last year's bike-related emergency room visits, the injury was caused in a one-sided accident. A VeiligheidNL study into bicycle accidents in 2016 showed that almost half of victims attribute the accident to their own behavior - not paying attention, or a steering error, for example. 36 percent said that the accident was caused by another road user. In 34 percent of the accidents, the condition of the road - slippery road surface, loose material, etc. - played a part in the accident.