For years, around 25 percent of all those who have died in road traffic accidents worldwide have been users of motorized and non-motorized twowheeled vehicles. The figures for the EU are similar: in Germany, for example, around a third of all road users killed in 2019 lost their lives after suffering an accident while riding a bicycle or motorbike. By way of comparison, figures from 2017 – the latest data available – show that users of two-wheeled vehicles accounted for around 16 percent of all the people who lost their lives on the road in the USA. For decades, however, accident rates have been highest in heavily populated developing and newly industrialized countries, where mass mobility on two-wheeled vehicles is a prominent feature of the society.
So how much greater is your risk of dying in a road accident in Germany, for example, if you ride a motorcycle instead of driving a car? We can assess this by comparing the number of deaths to the number of registrations for the vehicle type in question. The number of deaths among motorcyclists was 605; around 4.5 million motorcycles were registered. The number of deaths among car drivers and passengers was 1,364; around 47.7 million cars were registered. This means that, for every 100,000 vehicles registered, 13 motorcyclists and three car drivers/passengers lost their lives. This disparity becomes even more stark when we take into account the fact that motorcycles have a far lower mileage. The EU Commission was already saying years ago that the chance of being killed on the road was around 18 times higher per kilometer covered for motorcyclists than for those traveling by car. Incidentally, the EU Commission calculated this risk as being seven times higher for cyclists.
These few figures alone show that there is still a drastic need for action when it comes to road safety for users of two-wheeled vehicles, particularly as mobility on two wheels is likely to increase even further in the next few years. This applies to both motorcyclists – be they leisure bikers or commuters – and, in particular, to cyclists and users of electrically assisted bikes. According to data published by the ZIV, an association for the bicycle industry in Germany, bicycles and e-bikes are the perfect modes of transport for short and medium-distance journeys. The ZIV also states that, according to the results of several studies, freight bicycles could account for around 50 percent of all motorized goods transport in cities in the future. However, the more cyclists there are on the roads, the harder it will be to find a suitable way of apportioning the available road space – a division that still heavily favors cars in many areas of the world. Another source of potential conflict is also emerging alongside this familiar “battleground”: the increase in micro-mobility, which is the term used to refer to people using personal light electric vehicles such as e-scooters and self-balancing vehicles such as Segways to get around.
The fact is, as road users with no cabin to protect them, riders of two-wheeled vehicles are always in danger of suffering severe or even fatal injury if they become involved in a single-vehicle accident or a collision with another vehicle. The following chapters of this report will go into detail on what action can be taken to significantly reduce this risk for the various vehicle categories, from e-scooters, bicycles, and pedelecs to small mopeds, mopeds, and motorcycles.