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Caution! E-Bikes are More Dangerous Than They Seem.

By: Andy Gao

One peaceful afternoon in late June, Brodee Chaplain Kingman was out riding his E-bike. He was doing everything right, including signaling to make a turn, when a van hit him out of nowhere. He was violently thrown off his e-bike and sent to the hospital. After a few days, Brodee was pronounced dead.

E-Bike sales are going up, as well as the number of reported accidents. Many people are unaware of the risks involved with riding E-Bikes. Experts are now trying to educate the public about E-bikes and E-bike safety.

Certain E-Bike models can reach a speed of 70 miles per hour, higher than normal bikes. “The speed they are going is too fast for sidewalks, but it’s too slow to be in traffic,” said Jeremy Collis, a sergeant at the North Coastal Station of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office. (New York Times, 2023)

The laws regarding E-bikes could be clearer. Current laws do not account for the high speeds E-Bikes can reach. Safety is also a concern. Only select states have laws regarding E-bike riders wearing helmets. In those cases, most laws would apply to a normal bicycle as well. “It’s not like a bicycle, but the laws are treating it like any bicycle.” (New York Times, 2023)

Some states have stepped in to introduce E-bike laws, but they are often broken and are not very effective. Under Oregon law, a person must be at least 16 to ride an E-bike. However, days after educating the public about E-bike laws in Bend Oregon, a 15-year-old boy was killed while riding his e-bike.

E-bikes have become very popular in America over the last few years. Many people enjoy riding E-bikes due to their electric motor, allowing them to accelerate instantly. They are also popular for short distances, as they do not require significant pedaling.

Although they are ridden on the street, they do not need to be registered with the government through a DMV. In fact, there is very little, if not zero, regulation regarding E-bikes. Super73, a company in Irvine, Calif., that makes popular models, advertises on its website: “RIDE WITHOUT RESTRICTIONS. No license, registration, or insurance required.” (New York Times, 2023)

Without any regulation and at relatively low prices, teenagers and other people without driver's licenses can easily ride to places too far to walk to. “I’m really bullish about middle and high schoolers being able to use e-bikes,” said Ms. Hultin of Bicycle Colorado. (New York Times, 2023)

People are aiming to change the lack of regulation for E-bikes. The California Legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit E-bike use by people under 12. They would also introduce an E-bike license with an online written test.

What is not accounted for is the modifications that can be done to any E-bike. Sur-Ron, a producer of E-bikes, limits the top speed of its bikes to 12 mph, but that can simply be bypassed by cutting a wire, which law enforcement officials noted to be part of their design. This will allow the bike to be ridden at a top speed of 70 miles per hour. “There are all kinds of videos on how to jailbreak your Sur-Ron,” said Capt. Christopher McDonald of the Sheriff’s Department in Orange County, Calif., where E-bike accidents and injuries are rising. (New York Times, 2023)

Without companies stepping up to make their products safer, without new laws and regulations passed to make E-bikes safer, and without the public getting a full idea about the potential of E-bikes, accidents like Brodee’s involving E-bikes will only increase.


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