E-bikes are becoming ever more popular and as a walker around some town, there are some pedestrian crossings in Zurich where you know you have to be especially wary of e-cyclists. 

One in seven bicycles sold today is an electric bike, the “hybrid Pedelecs”, bicycles where the rider’s pedalling is assisted by an electric motor (up to speeds of 25 km/h) are the most popular. Local Zurich riders seem to avoid the front wheel motor versions. On evidence of parked up e-bikes, most riders seem to choose between e-bikes with mid-drive motors for balanced and safe cycling, or the back wheel motor type for direct power transmission and a good grip.

Unfortunately we cannot speak of the brakes quality or reaction timing of the cyclist.

The problem for casual cyclists or walkers around town, the number of people injured due to e-bike cyclists or having an accident with you, is going up.

In Switzerland, the main causes of death or serious injury, according to the official statistics (click to view) were due to speeding, alcohol and of not paying attention. It may seem laughable being drunk in charge of a bike but the rate is going up.

It is more and more the idea of “popping home” after a meal downtown, or a day with friends at a BBQ and not taking the bus or tram which accounts the increase in cyclist fines and the number of accidents. Cyclists seriously injured or pedestrians hit by one who were injured rose over 30% from 2017 to 2018 in Switzerland.

Not all is bad, even when down by the lake on a Sunday afternoon and you experience race day at Indianapolis. The number of e-bike cyclists are not shrinking yet the good cyclists wear a helmet and are situation aware. As with most things, the popular places are not the problem, there is space for everyone to have fun. 

The areas when cycle lanes and pedestrian crossings meet or the traffic at a roundabout/rotary are different. Here the age of the cyclist is a factor as is their ability to stop!

Some cyclists plugged into their Apple earbuds are 100% unaware of how close they came to joining the 300 plus deaths or serious injury club.

Those who did had a high probability of being in the 50% of cyclists who do not wear a helmet despite the annual Zurich city and Federal safety campaigns.

The 300+ club for Switzerland includes 225+ injured on “slow” e-bikes (limited to a max of 25 km/h) and over 75 on faster “pure e-bike” versions. 

Compared internationally, Zurich as a city is safer than most.

How long for, I think some time.

Pedestrians know now the “do I cross, do I not” decision at a crossing as you see a pensioner approaching at speed on their bike is becoming “let us wait until this one passes.” Having the right of way is one thing, having a 22 -25kg hitting you at 25 km/h is another. 

Author: M.Meyer

Image Credit Image – Pixabay – pasja1000


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