Electric Bicycle Safety
Safety precautions are essential when riding a bike, electric or otherwise. Electric bikes generally have the same regulations as standard bikes and are allowed in bike lanes or on sidewalks as long as they follow speed restrictions. E-bikes also have the advantage of being fast enough to safely ride in traffic when bike lanes are not available. When you prepare to take your e-bike out for a ride, follow these guidelines to stay safe and have a pleasant ride.
Know your bike. You wouldn’t take off in a car for the first time without learning a little bit about the controls. The same goes for an e-bike. While it operates similarly to your standard bike, the manual will describe in detail what you can expect to be different. For example, you will need to become accustomed to taking extra time to stop.
Ride with traffic. It may seem counter-intuitive to those who like to keep their eye on traffic, but bikes are legally rode on the right side with cars travelling in the same direction. This is normally easier on an e-bike that has speed capabilities that make riding with automobile traffic more realistic.
Wear a helmet. You may already wear a helmet with your standard bike, but the higher speeds of an e-bike make this an even more important rule to follow. Depending upon local law, it may be mandatory.
Dress for safety. Wear clothes that fit closely enough to the body to not get caught up in bicycle mechanisms. Also wear bright colors, especially when riding at dusk or dawn. In full dark, be sure that your bike is equipped with lights. Consider kneepads and wear closed toed shoes to avoid injuries while riding your e-bike.
Maintain your bike. Every month or so, do a standard check of your e-bike. Make sure bolts are tight, brakes are operating as they should, and tires are inflated. Frequent inspections and maintenance will keep your bike in good working order, avoiding accidents and break-downs.
Watch for cars. Bikes are more difficult for those in cars to see. Not only are they smaller in size, but drivers are automatically looking for other cars, not bikes. Wearing bright colors and equipping your bike with reflectors and lights helps, but you should also take extra care to follow traffic laws. Many bike and motorcycle accidents are caused by bikers who attempt to take advantage of their smaller size and slip between vehicles. Drive smart and stay safe.
Use hand signals. Indicate when you are turning, so that cars that are attempting to pass you do not go around you on the wrong side. Drivers can sometimes be impatient with bicyclists, so it is important to give them a heads-up to your intentions.
Check your local regulations. Different municipalities treat e-bikes in a variety of ways. Sometimes the laws regulating electric bikes will depend upon the bike’s speed or weight. Limitations may include required age to operate, helmet rules, and whether or not the bike is allowed on sidewalks. While e-bikes are often treated just like standard bikes, their rise in popularity has led some communities to create e-bike specific regulations. Make sure you are aware of any in your town.
Plan your route. If you are riding your e-bike within a busy city, consider taking less travelled routes. Busy roads are always more dangerous for cars and bikes alike. Taking the road less travelled will be a more enjoyable experience with less stress and greater feeling of safety. If you are intimidated by particularly busy traffic signals, you may choose to walk your bike through following pedestrian regulations before remounting your bike.
Following these rules and being careful around other vehicles will ensure that you have many safe and enjoyable rides on your e-bike.