What Are E-Bikes and How Do They Impact Your Safety?
E-bikes are everywhere. Well, almost everywhere. In most larger towns and cities, e-bikes, or electric bikes, are commonplace. You’ll see them parked near restaurants and other hotspots, as well as available for rental. You’ll see people riding them around town, on sidewalks where it’s allowed, through parks, and on roadways. You’ll also see them on recreational trails now thanks to the secretary of the interior signing an order in August 2019 allowing electric bikes on public lands.
What does this mean for you? It means there will be bikes sharing the trails with you that don’t operate the same way regular road and mountain bikes do. They might travel a bit faster since the bicyclist doesn’t have to do the same amount of work because of the electronic assist. They might be a bit louder than regular bikes. And the rule change might open the door for even faster and louder bikes in the future.
Not everyone is unhappy with this change. Many see this as a way to get people with disabilities and older bikers back on the trails. And many open-space managers are reporting that the number of accidents is about the same on e-bikes as it is on regular bikes in most places. However, how the e-bike riders follow rules will greatly determine the safety level of all bikers who share the trails. It’s important to adhere to trail rules at all times to ensure everyone’s safety.
Here’s how e-bikes could impact bicycling safety:
- Motorized bikes take off a bit faster than regular bikes, making it possible to lose control when just starting out
- The bikes also can travel faster, some providing assistance up to 28 mph, which can mean a greater likelihood of loss of control and harder impact when they do crash
- The bikes may provide access to riders who aren’t well-versed on the trail terrain and don’t know trail rules, whereas these beginners might not otherwise attempt the trail until they are more advanced
- Motorized bike rentals put more bikes on the roads and trails, making it important for riders to follow the rules and share the space with each other
- More motorized bikes on trails means a greater chance of collision with other bikers, stationary objects, animals, and pedestrians
The law is the same if you are injured on a regular bike or an e-bike, unless the e-bike was rigged to perform more like a motorcycle or ATV. If you are the victim of an accident that includes bicycles, e-bikes, or ATVs, contact The Husband and Wife Law Team for help. We work closely with victims and obtain settlements on their behalf to cover the many costs associated with crashes.
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer