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E-bike Safety Tips for Seniors

                  

 

Table of Contents

Introduction
Health Benefits of Using Ebikes for Seniors
Risks in Seniors
Before Riding the Bike
During the Bike Ride
After the Bike Ride
Takeaway
      

Introduction

eBikes are bicycles equipped with an electric motor that may be activated to assist the rider in pedaling. The pedals are installed for those who enjoy biking without a boost from electricity. Electric bikes come with numerous health benefits that the seniors can enjoy ranging from mental health to physical health and the benefits of socializing. Despite the wide range of health benefits, these bikes are not without risks. Without proper precautions, ebikes can be a disaster. The bike riders are advised to have protective gear. Finally, these bikes like any other machinery require regular maintenance and care.

Health Benefits of Using Ebikes for Seniors

is an activity that can provide a variety of health benefits, from being healthier to appearing younger on your feet. In addition, new research shows that cycling is an exercise that can improve health and reduce age-related ailments.

 Mental Health

Researchers in Scotland found that older people who use e-bikes can cycle longer, and as a result, they have an increased sense of independence. This has also been shown to improve their mental health and physical well-being. Regular cycling can make you feel more energetic and balanced. Cycling doesn't just help your physical health; it also has a positive impact on your mental well-being.

 Physical Health

Pedaling on an e-bike is a great low-impact form of exercise that doesn't put too much stress on your joints. Cycling has been shown to help maintain cardiovascular health and improve blood flow, all while increasing coordination skills. The physical and mental stimulation cyclists experience from riding also helps fight depression. 

  • Immune System - Cycling helps in improving the immune system to fight off pathogens. Research has shown that the thymus organ controls how well our body's cells produce T Cells, which are responsible for fighting against germs. Unfortunately, as we age, this vital organ shrinks, and by middle-age, it is at 15% of its maximum size--meaning our immunity declines 2 or 3 percent each year. Cycling offers a solution because studies have shown that cyclists appear to make many T-cells like young people.
  • Reduced Risk of Diseases -Cycling is not only a fun way to stay active but can also help increase your lifespan. A recent study found that people who regularly commute by bike had lower risks of death and cardiovascular disease than those with no cycling habits at all. Exercise can create more room in your brain by reducing tau levels, a protein linked to Alzheimer’s. Exercise increases blood flow which boosts attention and planning skills- it might even reverse mental health conditions. A study suggests that regular exercise improves memory function for those with Alzheimer's disease or similar symptoms.
  • Bones and Joints - Cycling is a great way to strengthen knee muscles without traumatizing the joints. Cycling can still be physically beneficial for those who are already experiencing pain as long as they avoid hard pedaling on uphill terrain. Riding an e-bike is one of the best forms of low-impact exercise that are easy on joints. Pedaling burns not only calories but also strengthens muscles in your legs.
  • Balance - Cycling is an ideal exercise for older people who have problems with strength and balance. If you can get on and off a bike safely, you should be able to ride a stationary bike without worrying about balance. For those of us with more difficulty balancing while cycling, the recumbent bikes will give your muscles time to adapt. As a senior, it's essential to keep your balance. Try spinning or biking. If you need help mounting the bike, ask for assistance but once on the bike, pedal at a leisurely pace without shifting your weight. You can also try yoga to supplement cycling and improve balance even more.
  • Socializing

    One way to combat aging-related cognitive decline is through exercise, but socialization is just as helpful. Social interactions delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease and reduce your likelihood of anxiety or depression. In addition, socializing can boost self-confidence, which gives you a better quality of life at any age.

    Cycling is one of the best ways to combat loneliness, particularly for older people upon leaving work. Cycling gives you a reason to leave your home and meet other like-minded individuals who are also looking for an activity to socialize with others.

    By cycling outdoors as part of organized groups (or even solo), many senior citizens have found themselves gaining back some sense of purpose by connecting again through this familiar sport while simultaneously meeting new friends.

    Risks in Seniors

    According to the CDC, elderly cyclists account for about half of all cycling fatalities, showing the significance of taking precautions before taking a bike ride.

    The popularity of e-bikes, also known as electric bikes or pedelecs, has grown in recent years. Users say they are a convenient, cost-effective, and fun mode of transportation for short distances, but injuries and deaths associated with their use have increased.  The people who ride them tend to be older than the average cyclist because an easy bike is often more comfortable on less perfect terrain such as paved roads that many cyclists avoid.

    As we age, our bodies change in many ways. Our vision may deteriorate and become less keen, and coordination can worsen as well as balance. Reduced cognitive function means that individuals have decreased judgment, making it more important to stay active. Musculoskeletal changes such as sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass), osteopenia (decreasing bone density), or even arthritis increase the risk for falls, leading to fractures and broken bones.

     Motorized Bicycle Accidents in Numbers

    Only 7% of cycling injuries are due to collisions with vehicles, and this means that cyclists often hurt themselves by hitting a stationary object or falling off the bike.  

    From 1996 to 2005, about 60% of all hospital admissions and about half of emergency cases were due to bicycle injury.

    According to the Consumer product safety commission, the number of people who have been injured on electric bikes and scooters has increased. Over the past few years, a total of 133,000 emergency room visits between 2017 and 2019 alone was due to bikes. It accounted for 5.3 per 10,000 emergency department injuries in the US. Over the same period, 3,075 ebike injuries were representing 0.13 per 10,000 people. The majority of the injured in e-bikes are older people. Seventeen percent of the ebike accidents suffered internal injuries. 

    Before Riding the Bike

    Cycling is not only a fun and healthy way to stay active, but it can also be an adventure. Unfortunately, there are many risks associated with cycling, especially when riding on roadways with traffic or other hazards such as potholes or bad weather conditions. Thankfully, safety equipment you cab have to minimize the risk of accidents while exploring new roads in the neighborhoods.

     Things to bring

  • Sunscreen- Wearing sunscreen is a great way to protect the skin. Not all of your skin is covered, so you must put on some sunblock for areas like your hands. Doing so will prevent any future discomfort like skin peeling. 
  • Water - Take drinking water with you to reduce the risk of dehydration. One way is by finding an easy-to-carry solution like disposable paper cups and water bottles or your favorite takeout containers that are easily recyclable 
  • or reusable.

  • Identification - When going for a ride as an older person, it’s advisable to pack identification with you. You never know when the worst is bound to happen, and it's important not to be left without anything in case of an emergency.
  • Money - When going for a ride as an elder, it’s essential to have some money with you.  For example, your phone could go off, or something else could happen where it could not charge, then having cash on hand would be helpful.
  • Mobile Phone -  Whenever you go for a ride as an older person, the one thing that should never leave your hand is your mobile phone.
  • Always have it on at all times because you can do so many things with your cell these days. You never know when you might need to call for help. Make sure you grab your phone before heading out on a bike ride.

     Wear Protective Gear

  • Helmet - To have a great ride as an older person, you should have your helmet.
  • Knee pads - They are an essential safety device that every rider should have.
  • Gloves - Gloves are a great way to protect your hands and keep them from getting dirty. They also provide warmth on cold days, which is why they're an essential item for any cyclist.
  • Cycling shorts - Cycling shorts are great for longer rides because they give your skin breathing room and reduce the risk of friction.
  • Body Armor - You are only as safe on your bike as you dress for the ride to protect yourself from falls and other injuries while biking like an experienced cyclist.
  • Bright or reflective - Wearing something bright or reflective when riding a bike can increase your visibility to drivers, helping you stay safe on the road.
  • Sunglasses /cycling glasses with prescription- If you have sunglasses, it’s good to protect the eyes.
  •  E-bike Accessories to have

  • You need to have active or blinking lights to identify a bicycle as separate from other vehicles on the road. This is because other road users will identify you from a distance.
  • Signal Lights. You need to signal others if you want to turn right or left.  
  • Flags to increase visibility
  • Mirrors that assist you in seeing to the side or behind you
  •  E-bike parts to check

  • Tires- Check the pressure on tires and if they are worn out. Replace worn-out tires.
  • Batteries- Check your battery to ensure it's charged and locked before you hit the road. Remove the key, see if there is a charge (you should turn on lights), then replace it with keys in case of an emergency.
  • Brakes - Ensure you tighten the handles to avoid slipping, and make sure both breaks are working just in case. Never ride a bike without first checking for loose handlebars or brakes that might not be functioning correctly.
  • Saddle - Make sure your saddle is nice and tight to avoid any mishaps. A quick jiggle of the seat will tell you if it's in place correctly, so be thorough.
  • General Safety

  • Informing others of your route - Tell someone your intended route and what time you should be back. If the person needs to contact authorities, they will have a better idea of where you are when in need.
  • Know where to get help (i.e., emergency numbers)- Know what numbers to dial in emergencies. For example, most people know the number of their local police station, but they might not realize that some areas also have ambulances. Always have the number of your doctor with you.
  • Know your body - make sure you are feeling well and able before going out to ride. If you're on medication, contact your physician. 
  • Have proper rest- Start your ride with a full tank of energy, so make sure you get enough shuteye the night before.
  • Legal Safety

  • Laws and Ordinances - In the U.S., different laws apply to bicycles, depending on where you live. In general, wearing a helmet is compulsory in most states but not all - so be sure you know the laws before biking.
  • Know the local laws - It is essential to be aware of the local laws. For example, some states prohibit you from riding on sidewalks or paths that are not intended for bicyclists and pedestrians. Other areas have different rules about where electric bikes can be used; some cities allow them in bike lanes, but others do not permit use outside typical roadways. If your city has these restrictions, make sure you know what they are before; bicycling around town.
  • E-bike insurance - Ebikes are a great way to get around but can be pricey. Protect your investment with inexpensive and easy-to-find ebike insurance. 
  • Accident insurance - Without insurance, an e-biker would have to pay for all damages from any accidents he caused. Insurance is necessary when riding your electric bike because if you cause another person injury or property damage and there's no one else to compensate them, it could land on your shoulders.
  • During the Bike Ride

  • Tips/Guide - Avoid driving along pavements and sidewalks and also busy roads. Instead, stay on the pavement with other cyclists or use cycle lanes if they exist. 
    • Drive according to your comfortable speed
    • Stay cautious
  • Common Road Hazards - Practicing caution while riding an ebike is of the utmost importance. Distractions such as increased traffic, pedestrians, and other bikes can lead to accidents if not monitored closely by a driver or biker.
  • In Case of Emergency- You need to call the emergency number in case of a problem.
  •  After the Bike Ride

  • Batteries- Fully charge your battery after every ride, even if you only rode for a short distance. This ensures it's always topped up and ready to go when you need it most!
  • Tires- Regular maintenance is necessary, and If you notice the treads are wearing out and losing gripping power, don't delay replacing the worn tire.
  • Brakes- There are many types of brakes, and the type you have will determine the care and maintenance needed for your bike, which differs significantly among different models.
  • Takeaway

    The popularity of e-bikes is on the rise with older riders leading demand. They come with numerous health benefits. However, there are always risks when it comes to motor vehicles and e-bike safety precautions should be taken at all times; this way you can minimize any potential accidents or injuries you might get in return!

    While many people associate electric bicycles just as 'another mode of transportation,' plenty others use these machines because they offer numerous perks such as improved mobility or simply an increase in exercise from pedaling on your own accord without having someone else do so for you during a workout session.

    References

    Better Health Channel. (n.d.). Cycling - preventing injury - Better Health Channel. Retrieved July 28, 2021, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/cycling-preventing-injury

    Bicycle Transportation Cycle Accident Claims & Safety. (2016, July 13). Cycling Safety Equipment. Bicycle Transportation Cycle Accident Claims & Safety In UK. http://www.bta4bikes.org/cycling-safety-equipment/

    Bikemunk. (2021, February 25). Cycling for Seniors: Complete Guide to Cycling and Aging. https://bikemunk.com/cycling-ageing/

    Bourne, J. E., Sauchelli, S., Perry, R., Page, A., Leary, S., England, C., & Cooper, A. R. (2018, November 21). Health benefits of electrically-assisted cycling: a systematic review. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6249962/

    George, T. (n.d.). 7 Unexpected Benefits of Cycling for Over 60s. HIF. Retrieved July 28, 2021, from https://blog.hif.com.au/healthy-lifestyle/7-unexpected-benefits-of-cycling-for-over-60s

    Harvard Health. (2016, August 11). The top 5 benefits of cycling. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-top-5-benefits-of-cycling

    Hogan, D. (2021, July 9). E-bikes Allow Seniors to Enjoy Cycling and Keep Fit. This Retirement Life. https://thisretirementlife.com/2019/05/22/e-bikes-allow-seniors-to-enjoy-cycling-and-keep-fit/

    Ikpeze, T. C., Glaun, G., McCalla, D., & Elfar, J. C. (2018, January 23). Geriatric Cyclists: Assessing Risks, Safety, and Benefits. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5784561/

    U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. (2020, November 6). E-Scooter-Related Injuries Are on the Rise; CPSC Releases New Study and Public Service Announcement. https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Releases/2020/E-Scooter-Related-Injuries-Are-on-the-Rise-CPSC-Releases-New-Study-and-Public-Service-Announcement

    Yeager, S. (2021, January 7). Here’s More Proof That Cycling Can Keep You Young. Bicycling. https://www.bicycling.com/health-nutrition/a33833331/how-cycling-keeps-you-young-study/