To study the speed choice and mental workload of elderly cyclists on electrical assisted bicycles (e-bikes) in simple and complex traffic situations compared to these on conventional bicycles, a field experiment was conducted using two instrumented bicycles. These bicycles were identical except for the electric pedal support system. Two groups were compared: elderly cyclists (65 years of age and older) and a reference group of cyclists in middle adulthood (between 30 and 45 years of age). Participants rode a fixed route with a length of approximately 3.5 km on both bicycles in counterbalanced order. The route consisted of secluded bicycle paths and roads in a residential area where cyclist have to share the road with motorized traffic. The straight sections on secluded bicycle paths were classified as simple traffic situations and the intersections in the residential area where participants had to turn left, as complex traffic situations. Speed and mental workload were measured. For the assessment of mental workload the peripheral detection task (PDT) was applied. In simple traffic situations the elderly cyclists rode an average 3.6 km/h faster on the e-bike than on the conventional bicycle. However, in complex traffic situations they rode an average only 1.7 km/h faster on the e-bike than on the conventional bicycle. Except for the fact that the cyclists in middle adulthood rode an average approximately 2.6 km/h faster on both bicycle types and in both traffic conditions, their speed patterns were very similar. The speed of the elderly cyclists on an e-bike was approximately the speed of the cyclists in middle adulthood on a conventional bicycle. For the elderly cyclist and the cyclists in middle adulthood, mental workload did not differ between bicycle type. For both groups, the mental workload was higher in complex traffic situations than in simple traffic situations. Mental workload of the elderly cyclists was somewhat higher than the mental workload of the cyclists in middle adulthood. The relatively high speed of the elderly cyclists on e-bikes in complex traffic situations and their relatively high mental workload in these situations may increase the accident risk of elderly cyclist when they ride on an e-bike.
Speed choice and mental workload of elderly cyclists on e-bikes in simple and complex traffic situations: A field experiment