Rianne N.M. Hogenbirk, MSc

Rianne Hogenbirk has recently graduated from medical school and is currently working at a surgery department in the Netherlands. She is part of a research group on (E)-bicycle accidents in the Trauma Surgery Department at the University Medical Center in Groningen (Netherlands).

Within the research group the focus is to study the differences in the physical and psychological outcome for patients between road traffic accidents involving classic bicycles or E-bikes.

Given the massively increasing popularity of the E-bike, it is interesting to study the consequences of this shift in bicycle usage.

Presentation: For the elderly road user: Is the E-bike a solution or a danger?
Bicycles are a popular mean of transportation in the Netherlands. In 2016, e-bike sales were almost 30% of total national bicycle sales and nowadays >10% of the bicycles used is an e-bike. E-bikes are heavier and faster than normal bicycles, which could increase the risk of greater injury when having an accident. However, there is a lack of literature on this important issue.

Especially for the elderly, or people experiencing physical disabilities, the E-bike is an important solution to get out of their house and to be independent of others. On the other hand, cyclists are vulnerable road users, and elderly cyclists have a relatively high risk of being involved in an accident.

The research team performed a prospective cohort analysis to investigate differences in injury severity between e-bikers and conventional cyclists. The mean age of e-bikers and conventional cyclists was respectively 65 and 39 years, and comorbidity was more frequently present in E-bikers. E-bikers had a significantly higher injury severity compared to conventional bicyclists. Furthermore e- bikers suffered from more severe injuries of the head, face, upper and lower extremity. E-bikers were more often and longer hospitalised and also needed surgery more frequently.

Preventive measures such as driving lessons and helmet use need more attention. Furthermore, physicians should be aware of more severe injuries when a patient with an e-bike related bicycle accident is treated.