According to German insurance companies electric bicycles have a number of safety drawbacks. In particular the fast types used in Germany – essentially mopeds capable of reaching speeds of up to 45 km/h – present a hazard both for the driver and other traffic participants
The debate on the safety of electric bicycles in Germany arose in response to several crash tests. However, it is not always clear to exactly which means of transportation the conclusions of the study refer, as Germany has two types of electric bicycles. The first type – encompassing approximately 90 per cent of the market – is comparable to the electric bicycles used in other countries like the Netherlands: people have to actively pedal and the maximum speed is 25 km/hour. In addition Germany has an electric bicycle that does not require pedalling and reaches a speed of up to 45 km/hour (without a mandatory helmet). Insurance companies point out that these reach high speeds, particularly downhill, leading to accidents when overtaking. Moreover, confrontations at intersections and exits are more hazardous, the more so since motorists find it difficult to estimate the speed of electric bicycles. Collisions with pedestrians are more serious as well. German cycling interest groups, on the other hand, challenge the conclusion of the insurance companies and declare the results refer mostly to the fast type of ‘pedelec’.