E-bikes are convenient and efficient. They are also substantially more affordable than enclosed vehicles. For teenagers who can’t afford their own vehicles yet, an e-bike can be an excellent alternative. It can also be an opportunity to learn local roads and how to share space with others in traffic.
Unfortunately, there have been several high-profile tragedies on the California roads in recent months involving teenagers on e-bikes. This has led to some people declaring the situation an emergency and demanding that the state impose new regulations on e-bikes, potentially restricting their use among teen riders.
Is it true that California is in the midst of an e-bike safety crisis and that more restrictions on e-bikes and cycling could be the answer?
More regulations won’t solve the underlying issue
It is easy for someone to point at these tragic e-bike collisions and reach the conclusion that younger riders should have limited access to e-bikes. However, young adults are not the only ones getting hurt and dying on e-bikes or on bicycles in general. Those already involved in road safety advocacy recognize that more legislation regarding e-bikes isn’t necessarily going to improve public safety. Instead, safer driving practices among those in bigger vehicles and better road design are key issues that the state needs to address.
When building new roads or repaving existing ones, planners need to consider the needs of cyclists and pedestrians in addition to ensuring that the road is ready to handle the current volume of motor vehicle traffic. Young adults may simply be more vulnerable to collisions in part because they are still developing the skill and experience necessary to expertly avoid a crash while out on the road. If they encounter someone being dangerous at the wheel, they may not know how to react.
E-bike collisions are often the fault of drivers
Although road design may exacerbate the risk inherent in e-bike transportation, the actual cause of a crash between an e-bike or bicycle and a motor vehicle is often negligence or mistakes on the part of the driver. A motorist who causes a collision may have liability for the damages caused by the wreck. When their insurance isn’t enough, those injured or their loved ones may need to consider a lawsuit.
Tracking collision reports and proposed changes to state rules may benefit those who regularly ride a bike or an e-bike and who want to prioritize safety on the streets. Understanding these trends can also impact a crash victim’s efforts to seek compensation in the wake of sustaining harm.