Electric bikes, also known as “e-bikes” are an increasingly popular means of travel in Altoona. To start an e-bike, the rider needs to pedal the bike. Following that, the electric motor will engage, allowing the rider to utilize a throttle to maneuver the e-bike with or without pedaling. E-bikes allow riders to travel further, are environmentally friendly and generally take the same shape and size as traditional bicycles.
One industry analysis reports that across the U.S. from May 2017 to May 2018 the sale of e-bikes saw an 83% uptick constituting 10% of all bike sales. E-bikes may be the wave of the future, but parents in Pennsylvania may wonder if e-bikes are safe for themselves and their children. There are concerns that these bikes could cause crashes or could be struck by a car.
E-bike crashes can cause serious injuries
Many people have concerns about the safety of e-bikes. One study found that from 2000 to 2017, people involved in an e-bike crash had a greater chance of sustaining serious internal injuries compared to accidents involving traditional bicycles. In addition, riders of e-bikes were three times more apt to suffer injuries after colliding with a pedestrian than riders of traditional bicycles. The risk of serious injuries may be due to the higher speeds e-bikes can travel compared to traditional bicycles and insufficient biking infrastructure.
Federal law on e-bike safety
Federal law addresses e-bike safety. Under federal law, e-bikes are permitted to travel over 20 mph if they are operated using both pedal and motor power. Per the Consumer Product Safety Commission, e-bikes must follow the same safety regulations as traditional bicycles.
State law on e-bike safety
State law addresses rules regarding the licensure and registration of e-bikes and where e-bikes can be operated. For example, in Pennsylvania operators of e-bikes who are under age 12 are required to wear a helmet.
E-bike safety concerns are valid
If you are concerned about e-bike safety, you are not alone. Due to their fast speeds and self-propulsion even skilled e-bike riders have trouble operating these vehicles at times. This could lead to collisions at intersections with cars, pedestrians or bicyclists. In addition, the lack of bike lanes in many parts of Pennsylvania puts e-bike riders at risk of being struck by a car. These collisions can cause serious injuries. Those who ride e-bikes should keep these concerns in mind so they can stay safe while operating these vehicles.