E-Bikes: Good for the Planet, but Sometimes a Threat to Public Safety

Why legislators and safety advocates are working to create safer e-bike use

Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are becoming increasingly popular as a mode of transportation, but not all Californians have been thrilled with this development, thanks to high-speed crashes and daredevil riders. Now, there is a new law that observers hope will address these concerns. 

The Risks of E-Bikes

Unlike traditional bicycles, e-bikes are equipped with a motor that can reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour or more, which can make it difficult for riders to control the bike and avoid accidents. Additionally, e-bikes can be heavier than traditional bikes, which can increase the risk of injury in the event of a collision.

Another potential danger of e-bikes is their lack of visibility. Many e-bike riders do not wear helmets or other safety gear, which can make them difficult to see on the road. This lack of visibility can increase the risk of accidents, especially at night or in poor weather conditions.

According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, e-bike injuries in the area have been rising. The Times wrote:

“During the first 10 months of last year, staffers at Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo documented 198 e-bike injuries. Doctors saw 113 injuries in 2021 and just 34 in 2020, according to data provided by the hospital,” she reports. “Between January and October of last year, 78 of the 198 people who suffered an injury on an e-bike were not wearing helmets and 99 suffered some type of head injury, data show.”

Tetsuya Takeuchi, the trauma medical director at Providence Mission Hospital, told Fry it’s her feeling “we got a device a little bit too fast, and the culture is not completely set for it. It’s a convenient vehicle, it’s environmentally friendly — there’s a lot of advantages. But we need to think about the safety of the rider and the safety of the people around them.”

Legislative Progress on the Issue

In addition to safety advocates raising public awareness of e-bike injuries, state legislators are also trying to solve the problem.

State Bill 1946, which became law in 2022, requires the Department of Transportation to create new e-bike-specific training and safety programs.

The bill’s language is as follows:

“This bill would require the department to develop, on or before September 1, 2023, statewide safety and training programs based on evidence-based practices for users of electric bicycles, as defined, including, but not limited to, general electric bicycle riding safety, emergency maneuver skills, rules of the road, and laws pertaining to electric bicycles. The bill would require the safety and training programs to be developed in collaboration with relevant stakeholders and to be posted on the internet website of the department.”

This law represents the first progress on the issue from a legislative standpoint. However, safety still begins with California cyclists making good choices.

How to Ride Safely

To minimize the dangers associated with e-bikes, riders should take proper safety precautions, such as wearing a helmet, using lights and reflectors, and obeying traffic laws. Additionally, e-bike riders should be aware of the limitations of their bikes and avoid riding in conditions that may make it difficult to control the bike.

Perhaps most importantly, e-bike riders should be aware of how high speed increases the risk of injury, to themselves and others.

If you ride safely, take precautions and are still injured because of the negligence of another person, it may be time to contact a California bicycle accident lawyer.

Finding the Right Bicycle Accident Attorney

Gary Brustin is a lifelong cyclist and a specialist in bicycle accident law. In fact, these are the only types of cases he accepts. If you’ve been injured in a collision, we urge you to contact Gary for a complimentary consultation.

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