Bay of Plenty has some of New Zealand’s highest e-bike injuries, ACC claims – New Zealand Herald

Posted: January 9, 2022 at 4:15 pm

Leanne Hughes is still recovering from a broken shoulder after a crash on her e-bike. Photo / George Novak

The number of e-bike injuries in the Bay of Plenty has soared in recent years and a Tauranga woman injured in a crash says people should be more aware when buying one.

Leanne Hughes, 50, decided to sell her car and invest in an e-bike as a cheaper mode of transport.

On December 7, she was riding along Otumoetai Rd when she crashed, tipping over, with the bike on top of her. The impact of the crash broke Hughes' upper arm and she is still recovering from the ordeal weeks later.

Hughes waited for about two hours for an ambulance to take her to Tauranga Hospital and was comforted by "complete strangers" the entire time. It is an experience that still resonates with her today.

"It was just amazing, the kindness of people.

"I'm just so incredibly grateful."

Among the helpers were off-duty doctors who kneeled beside her on the path and gave her pain relief.

But the crash has knocked Hughes' confidence and she's unsure whether she'll ride her bike, her only form of transport, again.

Hughes said it had been about 30 years since she last rode a bike and when she bought the e-bike "nothing of safety was discussed". The salesperson appeared to be more focused on the sale, she said.

"I don't want to put them in a bad light or anything but I think people in shops should know . . . that safety element needs to be addressed.

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"People like myself assume it's one and the same - a bike and an e-bike are the same except one gives you power going up the hills."

Hughes said she would have gladly taken part in a demonstration ride or introductory course to e-bikes when she bought hers and recommended anyone considering an e-bike to do the same.

E-bikes were heavier, their weight distribution could be different, and they were faster and more powerful, she said.

During the past five years, there has been a steady surge of ACC payouts to people suffering injuries from e-bike related claims, and figures for this year so far look set to record another record number of claims.

In the Bay of Plenty in 2016, there were just four e-bike related claims. Last year, there were 102. Up to September 18, 2021, there were 100 - not including Hughes' crash.

The figures make the Bay region the third-highest for e-bike injuries behind Otago, which already has 137 claims this year to date, and Auckland with 180.

ACC injury prevention leader James Whitaker said if someone was getting into e-bike riding for the first time, the organisation recommended taking a course as e-bikes were "very different" to traditional bikes.

There were several things cyclists could do to help themselves keep safe, he said.

"This could mean taking a moment to get the basics right, like checking you've got the right safety gear and that it fits you properly, or taking time to practise in a quiet, traffic-free area."

Whitaker said the organisation wanted people to continue to ride bikes but to be safe while doing so.

"There are heaps of health and wellbeing benefits from cycling, so we don't want to put the brakes on people getting out on their bikes."

It was important for all road users to look out for each other and give each other space, so everyone felt comfortable, he said.

Make sure your brakes, tyres, chain, gears and lights are all in good condition. Make sure you've got the right safety gear and that it fits you properly. It may pay to practise in a level, quiet and traffic-free area if it's been quite a while since your last ride. Take a course if you're getting into e-bike riding for the first time they're very different to traditional bikes. Plan your journey around routes where there isn't much traffic or other potential risks.

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Bay of Plenty has some of New Zealand's highest e-bike injuries, ACC claims - New Zealand Herald

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