Basel, 20 May 2022. In recent times, e-bikes and e-scooters have become an increasingly common feature of the urban landscape. Often, the technology is subsequently modified in order to allow the vehicles to travel at faster speeds than the statutory maximum. At the same time, there is no legal requirement to wear a helmet when using a light motor-assisted bike with a maximum permitted speed of 20 km/h. But how does the outcome of an accident change if a cyclist riding a light motor-assisted bike with a tuned motor travels at a speed above the statutory limit and becomes involved in an accident? What protection can a helmet offer in such a scenario? Baloise teamed up with Dynamic Test Center AG (DTC) and Basel traffic police to carry out a number of tests.
“Light motor-assisted bikes that have been modified for higher speeds are becoming increasingly common on the road. Today’s crash test series will 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 simulates the scenario of an e-scooter in a side-on collision with a car. The driver of the car misjudges the speed of the e-scooter, which has been tuned. The scooter rider is not wearing a helmet. After the test, Rolf Thommen, Head of Basel traffic police, provides an analysis of the scene of the accident: “In this situation, the driver was probably surprised by the faster-than-permitted speed of the e-scooter. The e-scooter rider will usually hit the car first with his head and then with his full body, likely suffering severe injuries as a result of the collision and the subsequent fall. At this sort of speed, the rider would have absolutely needed to wear a helmet for protection.”
The follow-up test uses a fall impactor to demonstrate what impact a typical helmet can actually sustain. “As part of this test, we let a standard bicycle helmet fitted with a head dummy drop onto a steel plate from a height of 1.5 metres at a speed of 19.5 km/h. The measurements taken from the dummy head must not exceed a specific level of deceleration. This test is part of the product approval testing that any bicycle helmet sold in Switzerland has to pass. It ensures that the risk of head injuries in the event of a collision can be reduced significantly,” says Sandro Caviezel from Dynamic Test Center AG.
The second crash test features as the protagonist a rider on an e-bike who crashes into an opening car door. “We know this scenario only too well from traditional bicycles. But riders of e-bikes are likely to be travelling at higher speeds, which results in a stronger impact on collision. Whether or not the rider is wearing a helmet can make the difference between life and death in an accident like this,” says Heinz Reber from DTC.
At the end of the test series, Daniel Junker from Baloise summarises: “Today’s crash tests highlight the problems arising from the greater physical forces that are at work when light motor-assisted bikes travel at excessive speeds. It would be advisable to also make helmet wearing compulsory for these vehicles. In addition, we are seeing a growing number of tuned vehicles on the road that are able to exceed the statutory maximum speed for this vehicle type. This means that manufacturers need to find ways to eliminate the potential for the technology to be modified for higher speeds.”
If you would like to observe a Baloise crash test in person, please send your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 7,900 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, 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.