Dutch trauma surgeons have raised concerns over the rising number of elderly people suffering severe injuries from electric bicycle accidents, AD reported on Tuesday. They strongly recommend that people learn to ride an electric bike before using it and consistently wear a helmet for protection.
National figures are not yet available, but hospitals in Brabant admitted over 120 more severely injured patients last year compared to pre-pandemic times, with other regions also witnessing a substantial increase in multi-trauma patients, according to AD.
Trauma surgeons believe the rise is mainly due to an increase in serious bicycle falls, leading to significant injuries such as skull or brain damage and bone fractures. Older individuals, who continue to stay active but are more susceptible to injuries, constitute a large portion of these patients. “They age healthier, but they are more vulnerable,” said Koen Lansink, trauma surgeon at the Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital in Tilburg.
While some injuries result from collisions, most accidents are unilateral, caused by incidents like falling from a stationary position or losing control due to high speed, observed Jeroen Poos, a trauma surgeon at Leeuwarden Medical Center and co-initiator of Doctors for Safe Cycling (Artsen voor Veilig Fietsen).
Trauma surgeons are advocating for bicycle helmets, especially for the elderly, who are increasingly using e-bikes. These e-bikes, while allowing older people to cycle longer, are heavier and faster, leading to quicker falls. Some elderly people also struggle to gauge the speed of e-bikes or handle them safely and accurately.
While doctors approve of elderly people staying active, they express concern over the increasing number of accidents. They advise wearing a helmet and ensuring proficiency in cycling before using electric bikes.
However, the cycling union Fietsersbond found that elderly people do not necessarily have more accidents with e-bikes than regular bikes. “We see in studies that the elderly control a regular bike just as poorly as an e-bike,” explained Kees Bakker, spokesperson for Fietsersbond.
While not against helmets, the cycling association is against making their use mandatory, fearing it may deter people from cycling. “We think that people will cycle less, while it is important to keep moving,” Bakker said.
The association stressed the importance of improved bicycle infrastructure, such as safer crossings on dangerous crossing points on provincial roads and wider bike paths to prevent accidents.
https://nltimes.nl/2023/08/01/trauma-surgeons-express-concern-e-bike-accidents-among-elderly Trauma surgeons express concern over e-bike accidents among elderly