Electric bicycles are a popular way to get around in many large cities and beach communities. They provide an affordable means of traveling to and from work, as well as an easy way to see the sights for tourists. Electric bikes are simple to operate for people of all ages, but are they really safe to ride?
As defined by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, electric bicycles are considered low-speed electric devices with two or three wheels and two foot pedals. As the pedals rotate, they power a low-speed 750-watt motor that propels the bicycle forward. At full speed, most electric bicycles can reach a maximum speed of about 20 miles per hour with a rider that weights up to 170 pounds.
Although electric bicycles offer faster speeds and fewer sore leg muscles than regular bicycles, they do cause accidents and injuries seen by an Oregon personal injury lawyer. In most large cities, regulations allow them to travel on sidewalks with pedestrians and in bike lanes with slower bikers. This poses increased injury risks to slower travelers who don’t see them coming and can’t get out of the way fast enough. Elderly pedestrians and young children are especially at risk of being hit by an electric bicycle traveling at a top speed of 20 mph, the same speed as some slow moving cars.
To prevent accidents and injuries, most electric bicycle manufacturers limit maximum speeds and state laws regulate safety precautions. General safety regulations include:
- Wearing a properly fitted helmet when riding
- Wearing hand protectors or leather gloves
- Wearing heavy pants or knee pads
- Wearing closed-toe shoes and reflective clothing
- Installing side mirrors for extra visibility
- Installing front and rear bike reflectors
Riders on electric bicycles are encouraged to follow recommended safety regulations and obey all traffic signs and laws that pertain to cyclists in public areas and bike lanes. Although electric bikes weight much less than cars, they can cause very serious injuries including lacerations, fractures, broken bones, spinal damage, and head trauma. If you own or rent an electric bicycle, exercise caution to protect yourself and others from accidents and injuries.