By: Nicholas Wang
Despite the rise of e-bikes, e-bike accidents are occurring more frequently.
On a Thursday evening in late June in the town of Encinitas, Clarissa Champlain found out that Brodee, her 15-year-old son had been in an e-bike accident. He was returning home from a shot-putting practice session when the incident happened. His Rad Power-made e-bike is a model with a top speed of 20 miles per hour. However, his route was on a road with a 55-mile-per-limit. Therefore, the cars were going more than twice his speed – an accident would be fatal. When he turned left, he was run-over by a Nissan van and violently thrown off course.
Ms. Champlain, the boy’s mother, rushed to the hospital and was taken to her son. She could spot the marks left by the chin strap of his bike helmet. She recalled how severe the accident was, “I went to grab his head and kiss him. But there was no back of his head. It wasn’t the skull, it was just mush.”
Three days later, another accident occurred. This teenage boy was taken to the same hospital after the e-bike he was riding collided with a BMW, trapping him underneath. He was hurt but luckily still alive. The teen had been seen driving recklessly and was the one to be blamed, the police had said. The town where both of these incidents occurred then declared a state of emergency for e-bike safety.
Although e-bikes are more popular than ever, the accidents of summer of 2023 have created concerns about how safe e-bikes are, especially for teenagers. Many e-bikes can exceed 20-mile-per-hours and some can even exceed 55 miles per hour. Those speeds are way too fast for people using the same precautions as biking. In most states, it’s illegal for teenagers to go faster than 20 miles per hour.
“It’s not like a bicycle,” Sergeant Colli, a citizen, said. “But the laws are treating it like any bicycle.” Similarly, Jeremy Collis, someone investigating the two incidents, said, “The speed they are going is too fast for sidewalks, but it’s too slow to be in traffic.” Both are concerned with E-bike safety and are thinking of ways to regulate this hybrid of a motorcycle and a bicycle.
Despite E-bikes being the successor of bicycles, there are still many issues with it. Due to it being so new, there aren’t many regulations and guidelines. Roads are currently designed for bicycles and cars/motorcycles. E-bikes exist somewhere between the two groups and therefore are not safe in either. E-bikes in a car lane are at risk of accidents while e-bikes on a bike lane or pedestrian sidewalk would simply be way too fast.
This article was based on ‘A Dangerous Combination’: Teenagers’ Accidents Expose E-Bike Risks - The New York Times