Motorized bicycles, Ebikes and crash reporting

Executive Summary

  • People riding motorized bicycles are categorized as DRIVERS, and not as bicyclists, for crash reporting purposes.
  • How will Ebike crashes be reported?
  • new wildcard: what about escooter crashes?

Each of these has the potential to skew crash reporting statistics. Motorized bicycles have not seen wide use, but ebikes are expected to become much more common

I propose adding a few new “Body Style” definitions: 1) bicycle (well, pedalcycle), 2) motorized bicycle, 3) ebike; this would not require any changes to the Arizona Crash Forms, simply an update to the Crash Form Instruction Manual.

It is expected that ebikes will see large growth in use in the coming years; e.g, the WSJ reported:

E-bikes represent the fastest growing slice of the U.S. bicycle market today. sales totaled $135 million for the 12 months ended in October and are up more than eight full since 2014, according to market research firm NPD group Inc. still, e-bikes account for just 4% of the $3.5 billion dollar overall US market. — WSJ January 7, 2019

it is also feared that this will have a deleterious impact on (e)cyclist safety since it’s possible that ebikes will generally be used at higher speeds potentially by less-experienced users, and also possible growth in older riders who tend to be more vulnerable to injury when a crash occurs. Feared but largely unknown at this time. [for some parallels, see recently reported large increases in older ebike rider fatalities in NL, or this research from 2015 Germany noting similar trends. Ebike penetration is notably higher/faster in Europe compared to US]

Another potential “driver” (sorry, no pun intended) for ebikes (and escooters) is the recent proliferation of dockess bike and scooter sharing companies, especially in the Phoenix-metro area; JUMP/Uber, LimeBike, Bird, Razor have collectively added at least hundreds possibly thousands of these devices to the Scottsdale/Tempe/Mesa area in 2018.

Through 2018, Ebikes were classified legally as motorized bicycles in Arizona. Beginning in August of 2018, ebikes will have their own explicitly defined legal status and definition; in particular legally they are not motor vehicles.

Into this confusion, we have crash reporting — currently motorized bicyclists are reported as DRIVER and not as PEDALCYCLIST and the Unit’s bodystyle is listed as MP (moped). This means, for example, that a traffic fatality involving a motorized bicyclist gets counted as a motorcycle fatality, and not as a bicycle fatality. In some years, there have been a significant number of motorized-bicyclist fatalities, e.g. in 2010, a year in which the official count for bicyclists was 19, there were and additional 3 (known) motorized bicyclist fatalities.

It’s presumed that e-bicyclists would also be reported as DRIVER; but that’s not clear.

List of abbreviations:

  • ebike Electric Bicycle §28-819 (or see HB2266)
  • MB motorized bicycle per §28-2516
  • MP moped per §28-101,  and §28-2513.. This is also somewhat confusingly a Crash-form Body Style abbreviation for multiple types of vehicles.
  • MDC motor-driven cycle per §28-101
  • MC motorcycle per §28-101. Also a Crash-form Body Style abbreviation for motorcycle
  • See list of related statutes in main article moped-and-motorized-bicycles-in-arizona.

see this comment  for some further figures/stats as well as info about how the MMUCC treats mopeds, et al.

An additional dimension of confusion is that apparently (see Survey of… immediately below) what are common called: motorized bicycles, mopeds, and motor scooters are all lumped together as the same bodystyle (MP); further diminishing the usefulness of that crash data. It would seem more useful to lump together true MPs (there seem to be very few MPs) with MDCs (of which there are a lot), and give motorized bicycles their own classification; and make a person operating (or aboard, I suppose) any form of motorized bicycle a PEDALCYCLST… (i still have to think this through, though. but whatever, it’s out there).

In the current data scheme, crashes in AZ involving a plain bicycle have “No Data” (NULL i guess) for the Unit’s Body Style. — WOULDN’T IT BE USEFUL/HELPFUL/EASY TO HAVE A DISTINCT BODY STYLE FOR A BICYCLE, MOTORIZED BICYCLE, MOPED, EBIKE?

Additional Cause for Concern

The most common type of ebike in the US, now known as Class (or Type) 1 or 2; stops assisting the rider at a speed of 20mph (32kph). {Class 3 being faster, at 28mph]. In the EU, the similar classification stops assisting at at 25km/h (15.5mph).  Since crash severity typically increases rapidly with speed, it could be that the US would see more severe injuries, compared to, say, the NL issues mentioned above.

Cycling Savvy

See this thoughtful piece on cyclingsavvy website regarding E-Bikes: Education, Training & The Law  by Clint Sandusky / as well as Savvy E-Biking To A Car-Free Future by Karen Karabell  “[T]here’s a catch [to e-biking] many people don’t realize. With speed comes a greater need to understand the traffic environment: sight lines, door zones, blind spots, and common motorist mistakes caused by underestimating speed”

Number of Crashes involving an “MP” Unit Statewide

(for query, see phoenix, below); there have been between 13 and 37 reported crashes per year statewide from 2009-2018.; and between 0 and 6 reported fatalities per year with the mode being 2.

Curiosity note in 2018 I began getting intermediate datasets, not just a yearly; there were two reported as bicyclist fatalities that were later changed, presumably corrected,  to motorcycle/moped in the final dataset (incident numbers: 3455327 and 3439270).

Sample Survey of Crashes involving an “MP” Unit in Phoenix

Note this sample is not random; I just grabbed a handful of crashes…

MP is short for moped; it however appears to encompass many types of motorized two-wheeler categories who fall short of a full MC (motorcycle). As a sidenote, generally three-wheelers fall into the same categories.

Phx MP crashes 2009-2015 were in the small single-digits, ranging from 1 to 7 annually (ave about 4). In 2016 there was an enormous increase, to 24. It is unknown why this happened. A random survey of 10  crash reports showed

  • 1 report was unable to be located
  • 1 was apparently actually motorized bicycle
    (single vehicle crash)
  • 1 was a bicycle with a motor that was too large to fit the definition of a motorized bicycle, so was considered a moped (sidewalk-involved)
  • 1 was a “small type mini motorcycle/moped type vehicle”, with no VIN.
  • 1 was some sort of sit-down electric scooter; it’s unclear if it could have fit the definition of an ebike (and thus a motorized bicycle) or a moped, or even a motor-driven cycle.
  • 5 were motor-driven cycles, commonly called a motor-scooter (which are in effect a motorcycle with < 5HP engines). these are easily picked out on crash reports because this class of vehicle has a full VIN
    (1 cyclist ran red; equip failure claimed)
    (1 motorist drive-out at stop)
    (3 classic motorist left-crossed cyclist)

Below is a synopsis of each report…


16000078346 Linares
“v(ehicle)1 was a small type mini motorcycle/moped type vehicle”. Was driving on sidewalk and crashed into some parked vehicles.

16000018600 not found

16000169959 Clements
VIN LXDTCLT86E11200006 decodes to NINGBO DONGFANG LINGYUN, Model: DF200STG, 175cc
This would be a motor-driven cycle, not a moped.
apparently unlicensed and uninsured; driver got mulitple citations. “v1 failed to stop for red light, turning right and collided with v2… according to v1 , the throttle on his moped became stuck as he approached the intersection making him unable to stop”.

16000491562 Pearson
VIN RFGBS1C889XAW1672 Make Sanyang Motor, Model: Base, the vin indicates 3 horsepower(?).
This is a motor-driven cycle (commonly called a “motor scooter”), not a moped.
This was a classic motorist drive-out at stop and was written up as such “v1 was making a left turn from W Wescott Drive failed to yield to v2 which was s/b/ on 29th Ave, Driver of V1 stated she was at fault for causing the collision due to not seeing v2 as she committed to her left turn”
The scooterist apparently had a DL, but not clear if it was registered, said its plate was 01/2014, but under plate number it said “none”, insurance said none located. The narrative doesn’t go into it at all.

16000530803 Lewis
This one was a definitely bicycle with a motor on it… the sidewalk-riding moto-cyclist was right-hooked at a driveway.   “P1 was riding his bicyc le, using the after market motor (Flying Horse 48-49 cubic centimeter, 1 1/2 HP) which (per ARS {2014-2015 edition] 28-101.31 defines it as a moped), westbound on the sidewalk on the north side of highland Ave. P1’s speed was too fast for condition, to which P1 collided into V2 after  V2 completed a right turn into the driveway of 1610 E. Highland Ave”. Not sure what 48-49 cc’s means; the motorized bicycle statute (not referenced in the report) says 48 or less. The report doesn’t mention speed (in other words, was it > 20mph?), other than qualitatively.

16000559232 Kriske.
Make: “A1 Cycles”; refers to a plate expiration 01/2013 with a plate number of 0. Insurance None. Ride-out from sidewalk at a T intersection…
“V1 was riding his electric scooter across the intersection westbound from the sidewalk and failed to see V2, who braked and swerved but ended up hitting V1…
It should be noted that the information of v1’s scooter is inaccurate, such as the license plate #, the year, the vin, and the make. these blanks were filled in as such in order to complete this report.  The scooter that V1 was riding was a small “razor” brand electric scooter, with no plate, or a vin or a serial #”

16000597371 Olson
The vehicle in question is a Honda, per VIN it is a FSC600D/SILVER WING 500cc motor-scooter; This is a MDC. There were a couple of citations noted: no insurance, and something about restricted DL. It began with a (non-impact) left-cross of the cyclist.

16000477480 Rodriguez
VIN LXDTCKTP4C15E3189 Make Dongfang Lingyn (probalby should be lingyun) That vin decodes to DONGFANG Model: DF150STE which is 150cc scooter. Which would make this a “motor-driven cycle” and not a moped.
In any event, the scooterist in this case apparently had insurance, license, registration, etc. The other car involved was impounded (no insurance).
Left cross by car driver. some interesting backstory in narrative
“The driver and passenger of V1 switched places and attempted to report the passenger as the driver. Witnesses and the driver of V2 stated that the driver listed in this report was actually driving the vehicle. The passenger of V1 finally admitted that she was not driving and that  the listed driver was the actual driver during the incident”
There were a bunch of violations noted against the car driver.

16001072105 Erwin
VIN RFBV1J13FB140560 (should be RFBV1J13FBBxxxxx): Kymco, decodes to 126cc, series 150, model: movie.
This would be a “motor-driver cycle”, not a moped.
Classic left-cross by the car driver:
“Driver of vehicle 1 said that he did not see vehicle two when he made the turn. Driver of vehicle one was cited for failing to yield when turning left”

16001028616 Meeker
Appears to be a motorized bike; not really any other info. This appears to have been a single vehicle (i.e. single unit) crash…
“Looking at the scene it appears Mr Meeker was e/b in the bike lane on his motorized bike. There are black scuff marks on a portion of the curb that stick out about 2″ into the bike lane. It seems Mr Meeker struck this portion of the curb causing him to crash his motorized bike…”
One oddity noted, inj severity = 3 which does not match the narrative, severity should have been 4, incapacitating injury: “Mr Meeker seemed barely conscious. He would moan and move around a little but would not open his eyes or say anything” and was transported. Severity should have been 4, incapacitating injury.

SELECT count(*) FROM 2016_incident i WHERE
(SELECT 1 FROM 2016_unit u WHERE u.IncidentID=i.IncidentID AND u.BodyStyle=125 LIMIT 1) AND CityID=214;

SELECT IncidentID,FileNumber,TotalFatalities FROM 2016_incident i WHERE
(SELECT 1 FROM 2016_unit u WHERE u.IncidentID=i.IncidentID AND u.BodyStyle=125 LIMIT 1) AND CityID=214 ORDER BY 1 ASC


Crash Form Manual Instructions

According to the rubric in AZ’s published crash form manual, Body Style is only assigned to motor vehicles; therefore it is blank when the unit is a bicyclist. When a motor (any motor) is involved it becomes an MP (“moped”) regardless of what type of motor. (a motorized bike, a moped, or even a motor scooter).

As an aside, it would make more sense and consistency, for (human-powered-only) bicycles to be assigned a body-style in the Unit Table. Pretending bicycles aren’t vehicles is the root of this confusion.

These are the eight choices for Body Style of type Motorcycle,


Note that elsewhere (in sequence of event) “Pedalcycle ‐ Includes bicycle, tricycle, unicycle, pedal car, etc. Pedalcycle is defined as: Non‐motorized vehicle propelled by pedaling”

In the crash form manual this is some further info but only on the FATAL SUPPLEMENT form…

8a – Motorcycle Body Style – Used to identify the body style of any motorcycle involved in the crash. If no motorcycles were involved, leave blank.

Two Wheel Styles 1 Two Wheel Motorcycle (excluding motor scooters) is used when a motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of its operator is a two‐wheeled open (e.g., no enclosed body) vehicle propelled by a motor. Motorcycles equipped with a side car also use this code.

2 Moped or Motorized Bicycle is used when the vehicle is a speed‐limited motor‐driven cycle capable of moving either by pedaling or by a motor.

3 Off‐Road Motorcycle is used when the vehicle is a two‐wheeled open vehicle propelled by a motor designed or built for off road use only.

4 Motor Scooter is a light two‐wheeled open motor vehicle on which the driver sits over an enclosed engine with legs together and feet resting on a floorboard.

5 Other Motorized Cycle Type (mini‐bike, pocket motorcycles “pocket bikes”) is used when the vehicle in question does not qualify for attributes 1‐4.

50 Unknown Motored Cycle Type is used when it is known that the vehicle is a motored cycle, but no further data is available.



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