As the popularity of electric bikes, mopeds, and scooters continues to rise, the safety of these vehicles has become a hot topic.
Although electric bikes, mopeds, and scooters account for significantly less accidents per year than cars, it’s still critical that riders make themselves aware of the potential dangers—and the potential benefits. This quick breakdown will bring you up to speed.
Most electric bikes, mopeds, and scooters make very little noise during a ride. While this is usually a good thing, it also means that pedestrians may not hear an electric vehicle coming, and that could lead to a dangerous scenario if the pedestrian walks into the path of one without checking their surroundings.
This is why it’s incredibly important to heed traffic lights and stop signs more closely than if you were riding a regular bicycle, and to ride in a designated bike lane if possible. Remember that electric bicycles, mopeds, and scooters travel at significantly faster speeds than their non-electric counterparts; severe accidents, though rare, can happen.
Like motorists and cyclists, electric vehicle riders must respect their fellow travelers, follow the rules of the road, and be aware of their surroundings at all times.
The National Transportation Safety Board reports that wearing a helmet while cycling reduces the likelihood of head injuries by 48%, and serious head injuries by 60%. Because e-rides travel at speeds between 15 and 28mph (and above), it is essential to find a helmet you like and wear it consistently.
Although bike lanes are becoming more ubiquitous and more protected, other obstacles such as debris on the ground, slick surfaces and uneven roads can still put you at risk - it's best to play it safe and wear a helmet no matter what the riding conditions are.
If you have crashed and your helmet has hit the ground, it’s best to recycle it and then purchase a new helmet. Unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer, bicycle helmets are a one-time use safety device.
Most electric bicycles offer robust gear shifting with high gear settings for faster and more responsive acceleration. Shifting to these settings is great for making short work out of a long ride, but only after you’ve built up some speed.
When starting from a standstill, on the other hand, high gear (or full throttle for throttle electric bikes) is likely to give you a much more aggressive jolt of speed than you expect, and could even cause you to lose control and crash before you’ve even started your ride.
As a result, it is important to accelerate gradually to ensure you’re able to maintain control.
When it comes to electric vehicles, it pays to plan ahead. You should always be sure that your vehicle’s battery has more than enough charge to get you where you need to go and in the time you expect to get there.
It’s not just a matter of convenience; if your electric bike, moped, or scooter suddenly ran out of battery while you were surrounded by other cars and pedestrians in the middle of a busy street, that could create a potentially disastrous situation.
All electric vehicle riders—especially those who travel in high-traffic, metropolitan areas—need to monitor their battery level throughout the trip, and know what to do if a sudden loss of power occurs (i.e., Pull over to a safe area immediately).
If you’re the kind of rider who gets in the zone and forgets to check how much juice you’ve got in the tank, you may want to invest in an e-bike that switches over to manual pedaling if the battery loses charge. Alternatively, for vehicles with removable batteries, you can carry a fully-charged spare to swap in when needed.
One reason that electric bikes, scooters, and mopeds are popular in large, metropolitan areas is because these areas tend to have more flexible and developed infrastructure, including safe bike crossings and clearly differentiated cycle lanes.
The good news is that more and more local governments are allocating funding to create space for alternate electric forms of transportation in an effort to decrease time wasted in traffic and excessive environmental pollution.
As evidenced by the Federal Highway Administration’s efforts to increase the development of bicycle lanes across the country, it’s becoming safer to ride electric bikes, scooters, and mopeds in large cities and suburban areas with every passing year.
Electric bikes, mopeds, and scooters are powerful vehicles. That’s part of what makes them so convenient and fun to ride. But as Spider-Man taught us, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
As a rider, it is your responsibility to be aware of the dangers involved. Yes, e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-mopeds are statistically less prone to accidents than cars, but that doesn’t mean you should slack when it comes to safety. Be proactive and take the simple steps detailed above to limit the possibility of putting yourself in an unsafe situation.
Taking basic precautions like monitoring your vehicle’s battery level, stopping at all traffic signals, gradually accelerating from a dead stop, and scoping out cycle or bike lanes around you will go a long way.
Taking time to understand and follow these considerations will ensure that you’re making the roads and bike lanes a safer, happier place for pedestrians, your fellow riders, and yourself.