Rider beware: E-bikes operate as more motorcycle than bike

The popularity of e-bikes is skyrocketing and it is important for parents – and even adult users – to appreciate the risks and educate themselves before operating them on city streets. These “bicycles” are more akin to a motorcycle than they are a bicycle, and are no less dangerous. Unfortunately, most of the users are young boys and girls who have yet to take a driver’s safety course and don’t fully appreciate the rules of the roads they are now occupying. Beyond that, they likely don’t appreciate how momentary lapse of attention or judgement can cause catastrophic injury, particularly when another vehicle is involved.

E-bikes are different than bikes

These bicycles use a throttle which can take some time to get used to. Having talked to some users, it is not uncommon for them to accidentally accelerate when they were intending to brake. Unlike a traditional bicycle, these motorized vehicles can maintain fairly high rates of speed for long distances and they accelerate quicker than kids are able to peddle. In a recent tragic incident, a 65-year-old man was riding his new e-bike in Solana Beach, CA, when – for unknown reasons – he lost control and fell over. He was riding along the side of the street and fell into the traffic where he was struck and killed. Sadly, just like motorcycles and traditional bicycles, e-bikes are harder for drivers to notice approaching.

Collisions are rising

There are more and more e-bikes on the roads. According to a recent article in the San Diego Tribune,  In Carlsbad, the City recorded 39 collisions with e-bikes in 2020, then 63 in 2021. Barely three months into 2022 there is already 19 and we are on pace for another record-breaking year of e-bike collisions. As with any two-wheeled vehicle, collisions involving e-bikes are likely to result in injury. Between January of 2019 and December of 2021, Carlsbad police recorded injuries in 163 of the 186 incidents they reported.

One statistic that should worry parents is that the e-bike user was found to be responsible for the collision in 72 of the 99 incidents reported in Carlsbad between January of 2020 and July of 2021.

Kids should learn rules of road to ride safer

Before allowing your children to ride their e-bikes on public streets we encourage parents to educate their children on the rules of the road. Have them read the driver’s safety handbook used to prepare for the driver’s license test. Of course, make sure they are wearing safety gear and, ideally, reflective clothing.

Additionally, you will want to make sure you have proper insurance available to protect them. Many people are unaware of this, but your own auto insurance should have uninsured and underinsured bodily injury coverage. This coverage will be on your car’s auto policy, but it attaches to the insured drivers and any immediate family living in the home. It will cover an injury caused by another’s motor vehicle whether you or your family member are occupying the insured vehicle or not. This includes when they are a pedestrian, in a friend’s car, in an Uber or on an e-bike. Check your auto policy and make sure you have this valuable insurance and that the coverage is enough to provide some financial security should you or a loved one suffer serious injury.