E-Bike Safety Tips for Beginners and Experienced Riders
But like battery bikes gain popularity here, security concerns are also increasing. Several Southern Californians have sued e-bike manufacturers over crashes or malfunctions, including one in 2021 that resulted in the death of a 12-year-old girl from Pacific Palisades.
“There has to be some awareness that this is not a toy,” said Aaron Wong, co-founder of Super73, an Irvine-based e-bike manufacturer.
What are electric bikes?
The term “e-bike” refers to two-wheeled bicycles assisted by an electric motor. The e-bikes are being produced with all the features of a regular bicycle with the addition of an electric motor that generates less than 750 watts, said Ronald Ongtoaboc, public information officer at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Class 1: The motor only assists the rider when the rider is pedaling, and it stops assisting at 20 mph.
- Class 2: The motor can propel the bike without the rider pedaling, up to 20 mph.
- Class 3: The motor only assists the rider when the rider is pedaling and stops assisting when the bike reaches 28 mph.
An e-bike allows riders of any skill or fitness level to achieve significant speeds. For reference, Tour de France riders average between 25 and 28 mph on flat ground.
If you haven’t seen an e-bike on the road yet, you’ll probably see it soon. Revenue rose 47% in the 12 months to October 2021, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to a analysis by NPD Group.
This is due in part to changing attitudes in the United States about the role of cycling, which has long focused on sport, fitness and recreation, Edward said. Benjamin, President of the Association of Light Electric Vehicles. But, added Benjamin, more and more American cyclists are beginning to view the bicycle as Europeans and Asians do: as a primary mode of transportation.
Super73’s Wong says this matches what he hears from his customers, who report using e-bikes to commute to work or school several times a week.
Along with other e-bike enthusiasts and health agencies, he is now leading the conversation about travel safety.
Riding an e-bike is different
One of the biggest mistakes a new e-cyclist can make is treating it like a conventional bike, said Helen Arbogast, injury prevention manager at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
There are two marked differences. For starters, e-bikes are much heavier. Arbogast said the bikes can weigh 15 to 25 pounds more due to the motor, battery and frame. Especially if a minor is using an e-bike, she says, you’ll want to consider their ability to handle the weight of the bike when steering it or when dropped. The second difference, Arbogast said, is how the motor assists the rider and how much assistance it provides. New riders should take the time to understand the product, if it is age appropriate, where it can be legally ridden, and if it will meet your needs.
“We encourage as many people as possible to touch and feel the bikes, swing a leg over them before they even turn it on so they understand where the controls and brakes are,” Wong said.
Once you’ve selected your bike, Wong and Arbogast said, practice riding it. Don’t assume you know how to control an e-bike just because you know how to ride a bike.
Some rules of the road are also different. You can ride a Class 1 or Class 2 e-bike on any paved surface where you would ride a regular bike. But Class 3 e-bike riders must be at least 16 years old and wear a helmet. Local rules will also determine if a Class 3 is allowed in certain bike lanes.
A suitable helmet
Arbogast said another measure an e-biker can take is to protect their brain, head and face from serious injury by wearing a helmet.
“If we treated our brain like our body’s computers, we would make sure it was protected,” Arbogast said.
“I know very few people who walk around with their smartphone without a case.”
Californians 17 and under are required by law to wear a bicycle helmet.
The type of helmet you wear on these bikes is up to you, but Arbogast said riders of all ages should take into account that regular bike helmets are crash-tested at 14 mph – e-bikes will faster than that. She recommends that e-bike riders, especially those under 17, wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-compliant motorcycle safety helmet when riding a motorized bicycle.
Once you have a helmet, make sure it fits properly and that you wear it correctly.
“Putting a helmet on your head without tying it on properly is just making the decision to wear an awful hat,” Arbogast said.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has shared several tips for making sure your helmet fits properly.
- Comfortable: Helmets should not move on your head when fastened.
- Level: There should be room for only a finger width or two above the eyebrows.
- Secured: The left and right side straps should form a “y” and meet just below the ear. Only one finger should pass under the strap.
A helmet is just one way to make sure you’re protected. You will also want to keep track of your e-bike maintenance. For example, check tire pressure and regularly test your brakes.
Kevin Claxton, director of operations for the California Bicycle Coalition, said safety is also about numbers.
“At the California Bicycle Coalition, we think it’s fantastic that more people are riding bikes of all kinds. The more people who ride bikes, the safer our streets become for cyclists,” Claxton said. .
What helmets can’t do is stop cars from crashing into people, Claxton said. His organization believes that more infrastructure for cyclists – protected cycle paths and intersections, as well as connected lane networks – is part of a safer cycling experience.
Start with the basics – learn them hand signals used to alert drivers and other cyclists to your actions.
Be aware of other riders and drivers on the road, and no salmon fishing – always ride on the right side with traffic, never against it.
For younger riders, consider that e-bikes can travel faster, so decision-making and reaction time must be quicker. Arbogast said parents need to decide if their child is mature enough and has enough riding experience for an e-bike.
Also be aware of your surroundings. This could mean buying accessories. For example, Arbogast said a Class 1 e-bike can be ridden on the sidewalk (in some cities), which means the cyclist will have to share that space with pedestrians. In this scenario, you’ll need a bell or horn to let people know you’re approaching from behind. If you ride after dark, you will need lights and reflective clothing to ensure you are seen by drivers and pedestrians.
And limit distractions. Do not use your phone while riding. If you want to listen to music, use a speakerphone. If you wear headphones or earphones, you might miss someone honking to get your attention or other important sounds.
Speak with an expert
To meet the demand for e-bikes, there are inexpensive e-bikes that consumers can buy online and have them delivered to their homes, said Bike Shop Manager Mike Stefanos. Pasadena Bike.
“Unfortunately they are often unreliable and end up being disposable because there is no support from that manufacturer and the motors are of much lower quality,” Stefanos said.
In 2022, people are also more likely to buy a product online than to go to a store, Arbogast added. The websites contain details of their products, but may not contain safety advice, recommended safety equipment or advice on sharing the road.
She said injury prevention organizations and agencies need to do this and are starting to work on more safety resources, such as informational videos, but there is currently a lack of information.
Before clicking “add to cart”, consider visiting your local bike shop to learn more about electric bikes.
Stefanos said the Velo Pasadena team will ask customers what their primary focus is for the product and go from there.
“For example, if someone says they have little cycling experience and live in a very hilly area, then we can explain how different engine styles and torque specs can benefit them,” said he declared.
If the Velo customer is a minor with their parent, they will generally use the bike to get to school. Stefanos said he will ask patrons how bike security is on campus so he can warn them about bike theft.
“We recommend that they get a Class 1 bike and explain how the e-bikes we sell are increasingly receiving e-bike components, such as stronger brakes, for safety,” he said. declared.
Regardless of the style of bike or the age of the rider, the team always recommends the right helmet and lights to all customers.
As long as there’s proper safety training like anything else, Arbogast said, e-bikes are a great option for transportation, getting outdoors, and getting kids and adults moving.
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