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The Sad Side of the Ebike Boom in Germany

Bicycle accidents with personal injury in Germany from 2014 to 2023

From the outside, some modern ebikes hardly differ from conventional bicycles without motor assistance. In some respects, however, the two are still very different. For example, the accident figures for these types of bikes in Germany have developed in completely opposite directions since 2014.

For ten years now, the Federal Statistical Office has been distinguishing between ebikes, or more precisely pedelecs, and bicycles without an electric drive in its accident statistics. At the end of March, the authority published the provisional figures for 2023. And there are some huge gaps between the figures for 2014 and last year.

Ten times as many accidents as before

This is clearly evident, for example, in the overview of accidents involving a pedelec in which people were injured. For 2023, the Federal Statistical Office counted around 23,900. In 2014, only around 2,200 such cases were registered – an eleventh of the total we are talking about today. The number of people who died on a pedelec has not developed quite as dramatically during this period. The number of deaths has risen from 39 to 188, an increase of “only” slightly fivefold.

The picture is more favourable when looking at accidents involving a regular bicycle. The figures for 2023 are below the level of 2014, with the 72,200 accidents from the previous year representing a decrease of seven per cent compared to the approximately 76,600 from 2014. Within these nine years, the number of people who died on a bicycle fell from 357 to 256. This represents a reduction of more than 28 per cent.

Overview from the Federal Statistical Office on the development of the number of bicycle accidents with personal injury from 2014 to 2023, broken down into pedelecs and bicycles without motor assistance

The two lower graphs clearly show the opposite trend for pedelecs and regular bicycles.

Pedelec riders suffer more accidents than cyclists

The Federal Statistical Office points to the increased use of ebikes in Germany as one reason for this development. The former 3.4 per cent of households that owned a pedelec in 2014 had become 15.5 per cent by 2022. This is in line with the figures from the German Bicycle Industry Association (ZIV). According to its statistics, there were around 2.1 million ebikes on our roads in 2014. By 2022, however, there were already 9.8 million. The ZIV predicts around eleven million by 2023.

The increased number of accidents and deaths among ebike riders is therefore directly related to the equally sharp rise in the number of ebikes. At the same time, fewer cyclists have been killed because the proportion of regular bikes has remained relatively constant. This raises the question of whether riding an ebike is generally more dangerous than riding without additional assistance. Based on the year 2023, the answer is yes, it is. For every 1,000 accidents with personal injury involving a pedelec, an average of 7.9 people died. In the case of bicycles, the average number of fatalities was 3.6. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the difference reflects a demographic difference between the two groups. Those who had an accident on a pedelec were on average 53 years old. In contrast, those who rode a regular bicycle were only 42 years old. As older people have a higher risk of being seriously injured or dying in a fall than younger people, the results were understandable.

Decreasing age with a positive effect

Nevertheless, the trend in these figures is encouraging. Firstly, the percentage of people killed in a pedelec accident in 2014 was still 17.4 and therefore significantly higher than the figure for 2023. Secondly, the average age of those who ride a pedelec is falling continuously. As a result, the age of the group of people involved in accidents is also falling, leading to fewer serious injuries and fatalities.

In 2023, 31.2 per cent of pedelec riders involved in accidents were under the age of 45. This was even slightly higher than the proportion of those aged 65 or older. In 2014, this ratio was significantly different. Back then, older people were clearly in the majority at 54.5 per cent. Just 10.7 per cent of accident victims were aged 45 or under.

Overview from the Federal Statistical Office on the age of pedelec riders involved in accidents in Germany from 2014 to 2023

Overview of the age of pedelec riders involved in accidents in Germany


Pictures: Federal Statistical Office

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