Electric bikes (a.k.a. e-bikes) have become increasingly popular in recent years. E-bikes are similar in design to regular bicycles while providing extra motorized power when the rider needs it.
A typical e-bike has several different speeds, which allows riders to tackle obstacles like steep hills and strong headwinds without nearly as much effort. At the same time, riders can always turn the motorized function off and pedal under their own power if they want to realize the health benefits of exercising on a bicycle.
E-bikes are especially popular with Baby Boomers and other aging riders who may have trouble peddling a regular bicycle because of joint problems and other health concerns. They are also widely used by persons with various types of disabilities who might otherwise be hesitant to jump on a regular bike.
Those who would not be comfortable using a conventional bicycle for whatever reason are finding e-bikes to be a major breakthrough in the way they are able to get around town. They also appreciate the ability to enjoy fresh air and get some exercise in when they ride around. But although e-bikes provide numerous potential benefits, there are some safety concerns as well.
One issue is that e-bikes are significantly heavier than regular bicycles because of the motorized functionality. This makes them harder to handle and more difficult to navigate tight corners and other obstacles that would be much more manageable on a regular bike.
Another concern is the speed which riders are able to travel on an e-bike. The 20 mph speed might be perfect for overcoming a steep hill, but there is also a risk of going much faster than the rider intended. When this happens, the disc brakes might be able to stop the bike just fine, but the momentum that was already built up might throw the rider forward and cause them to fall off the bike.
Important Tips for Riding an E-bike Safely
Understand How to Operate the Bike
The first thing that should be done before you go riding around town in a new e-bike is to learn and understand how to operate it. Read the directions carefully, and go over the different functions so that you know what each one does. It would also be a good idea for you to practice riding around for a while in an empty parking lot or someplace where there is no other traffic.
Always Wear a Helmet
Pennsylvania law requires all bicycle riders ages 12 and under to wear a helmet. But even though you may be past the age when it is required by law, you should still wear a helmet if you are riding on an e-bike. As we have talked about earlier, the potential for higher speeds and falling off the bike make it all the more important to protect yourself.
Whether riding an e-bike or any other kind of bicycle, you should always wear clothing that will make it easier for motorists, other bicyclists, and pedestrians to see you. Wear light, bright, and reflective clothing that will make you visible in both the daytime hours and after dark. In addition, it would be a good idea to outfit your bike with lights and a bell to alert pedestrians.
Be Especially Careful around Traffic
Whatever type of bike you are riding, you should always obey all of the traffic laws, such as stopping at stop signs and red lights, refraining from unnecessary distractions such as texting on your phone, and not riding against the flow of traffic. With an e-bike, you need to be even more careful when you encounter traffic. A lot of motorists do not realize that there are motorized bikes that can travel up to 20 mph, and this could make it more difficult for them to judge your actions.
Closely Monitor your Speed
As we have talked about earlier, speed is a major potential hazard with e-bikes. For this reason, one of the most important things you will need to learn is how fast you need to go for various situations and how to keep a close eye on your speed. When you are in doubt about your speed, the best rule of thumb is to err on the side of caution and travel a little slower. You can always up your speed if needed later on, but it might be more difficult to slow down if you find yourself going too fast.
Apply the Brakes Gradually
Because of the speed issue, applying the brake safely will be another important task for you to learn. For example, because of the extra speed and power you have behind you, you will need to begin braking earlier when you see stop signs and road crossings in the distance. Get to know your bike and the stopping distance you will need at the speeds you will be traveling.
Be Careful Stepping On and Off your E-bike
Because e-bikes are heavier and they tend to be used more by older and disabled riders, it is important to exercise extra caution when mounting and dismounting from the bike. Step on and off your e-bike at a pace that is safe for you, and be sure the bike is secured and not in danger of tipping over.
What to Do if You are Injured in an E-bike Accident
Even if you follow all of the best safety practices, accidents still happen. In some cases, they may be caused by motorists or others on the road. In other cases, they could happen because of a product defect that causes an electronic malfunction or something else to go wrong.
If you have auto insurance, your own insurer may cover some of the damages that result from the accident. In addition, you may be able to file a claim against the driver of another vehicle that caused the accident, or against another responsible party such as a faulty product maker.
The first step after an e-bike accident is to get immediate medical attention for any injuries you may have suffered. Many e-bike injuries can be very serious, and the sooner you get medical help, the better your chances of recovering.
After getting medical attention, the next step is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. With each e-bike accident, there are always unique circumstances and specific factors that may have contributed to the crash. By having your case assessed by a seasoned attorney, you will be fully informed of your legal rights and options and what avenues may be available for recovering compensation.
Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman for Skilled Legal Help with E-Bike Accidents
If you or a someone close to suffered injury in any type of bicycle accident, Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman is here to help. Call our office today at 412-567-1232 or toll-free at 866-466-5789 or message us online for a free consultation and case evaluation. We look forward to serving you!