Bike Safety: e-Bikes

I did not plan to buy an e-bike, but it seems like some of our leaders are getting them, group speeds have increased, and I don’t like being left at the end of the pack. Also, I am a year older. It is easy to justify not buying an e-bike (too expensive). It is also easy to talk yourself into a bike that has the capacity to go faster when you need a little assist.

Are e-bikes safe? Reports indicate that as e-bikes make up a greater share of the bicycle market, they are involved in more crashes. Bike riders interested in going all out on electric will have to learn how to handle this new kind of bicycle to ensure their safety. E-bikes are often heavier than regular road bikes. They can reach higher speeds and make usually manageable corners more dangerous. 

Pay attention to the flow of traffic. Drivers may not expect a cyclist to reach high speeds of 20 mph or more. Faster speed could lead to dangerous scenarios. As e-bikes become more popular, other road users may need to re-calibrate their expectations to maintain a safe interaction with this new type of bicycle. Pay attention to traffic behind you. Use a mirror.

Check your speed. My e-bike has different assist levels. Some new e-bike riders want to go for the fastest assist right out of the gate. It is recommended that riders take time to learn how the bike feels at lower speeds before cranking up to the highest assist level.

Brake earlier. You have more speed and power behind you. Try to slow down ahead of stop signs, and get to know your brakes so you can assess the amount of time it takes to stop.

Be careful when mounting and dismounting. Make sure the frame you buy is one that is comfortable to get on and off of. Make sure the seat height is correct. You should have a slight bend in your knees when sitting on the seat.

Make yourself seen. Wear bright, visible clothing. Be seen and heard. Outfit your bike with lights and a bell. (The lights on my bike have flashing functionality). It is recommended to have a white light on the front of your bike and a red light on the rear, and make sure they work. Make sure you are wearing a safe helmet. Be sure the chin strap is snug and that you can see.

And, hey! Let’s be careful out there!

Don Zook, Member at Large

 

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Reference: Hurford, M. (2020). How to Ride an E-Bike Safely. https://www.bicycling.com/culture/g20085571/ride-electric-bike-safely/