Naturalistic cycling study among Dutch commuter cyclists: comparing behaviour of cyclists on pedelecs, speed pedelecs and conventional bikes


Stelling, A.; Gent, P. van; Groot, J. de; Twisk, D.; Vlakveld, W.



In recent years, electric bicycles have become more and more popular, both in the Netherlands and abroad. Electric bicycles can reach higher speeds and require less physical exertion than conventional bikes: pedelecs support pedaling up to 25km/h, while speed pedelecs offer a motor support of up to 45 km/h. Given their potential to reach higher speeds, electric bicycles are considered riskier than conventional bikes. Thus far, there is limited knowledge about safety behaviour of e-cyclists, and even less about safety behaviour of speed pedelec riders. The present research aims to address this knowledge gap. Specifically, the aim of this research is to compare speed behavior of commuters riding on conventional bicycles, pedelecs, and speed-pedelecs. The study used naturalistic cycling methodology. Forty-six participants took part in the study. Fifteen instrumented bicycles were used to collect data: five regular bikes, five pedelecs and five speed pedelecs. Bicycles were equipped with a suite of sensors (measuring acceleration, gyroscopic motion, velocity and GPS position) developed at SWOV and two cameras (one facing forward and one facing the rider). For this paper we analysed only the speed data. An event-button located at the handlebar enabled participants to mark critical events during the ride. For each trip the data were automatically map-matched and segregated into “urban areas” and “rural areas”. The results showed that males had a preference for riding a speed pedelec. Furthermore, males and females did not differ in their preference for a pedelec, and only females were attracted to using a conventional bicycle. Commuters riding a bicycle with pedal supports were faster than those riding a conventional bicycle, and commuters riding a speed pedelec were faster than those riding a pedelec. For all three bicycle types, mean speeds were higher in rural than in urban areas. We found that commuter riding speed pedelecs did not conform to the legal speed limit of 25 km/h. Overall, speeds of pedelecs of both males and females were more similar to conventional bicycles which are still the vast majority of bicycles used. This first study into urban and rural use of different types of bicycles and their riding speeds, indicates that with the introduction of pedelecs and speed pedelecs speed differences will increase. This increase might negatively affect cycling safety.

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Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Road Safety & Simulation (RSS), 17-19 October 2017, The Hague