Electric bicycles are the new and upcoming method of transportation. Check out these e-bike safety tips from us before going out on the road.
The growing popularity of electric bicycles brings safety to the forefront to minimize accidents when riding or sharing the road with these fun new vehicles.
What is an e-Bike?
E-bikes share characteristics with standard bicycles, in that they can be driven forward using pedals. But they can also be ridden by engaging assistance from the electric motor.
The ability to have assisted power when riding these bikes gives riders flexibility. They can use them for a minimal carbon-footprint commute that won’t require a shower before you sit down at your desk. Or you can go full-pedal mode and get in your cardio.
In the United States, e-bikes are broken down into three categories, or classes, based on speed and driving mechanisms.
Class 1 e-bikes are pedal-assisted, with a motor that will assist you in driving the bike up to 20 mph, at which point it cuts off. These bikes require the rider to pedal to engage the motor; the throttle will not operate otherwise. They are not required to be registered and are usually allowed on mixed use paths and bike lanes.
Class 2 e-bikes are throttle-assisted, though again, only up to 20 mph. These bikes have a separate throttle control. This means you don’t need to pedal the bike to activate the motor. You can run it on the motor alone with a twist of the throttle. Like class 1 e-bikes, these vehicles do not require registration and are allowed where standard bikes are permitted.
Class 3 bikes can reach 28 mph, but like class 1 e-bikes, are pedal-assisted. The throttle will not engage without peddling. They provide better power and speed, but as such are more dangerous. Assume they will not be allowed on bike paths or mixed use paths such as trails until you check with the proper local authority. These bikes may also require registration for legal use on roads and through-fares.
In addressing these bikes from the perspective of personal injury liability, it’s important to remind riders they should look at e-bikes with the same level of safety consideration they would give any other motor vehicle. This starts with understanding the rules of electric bicycle operation according to the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). And, even if you’re not required to carry a license and registration for your e-bike, be sure to carry a state-issued identification card when traveling on city roads on an electric bike.
Always Err on the Safe Side
When you’re operating an electric bicycle, make sure you observe the same traffic rules followed by other motor vehicles. Follow the flow of traffic, travel to the right side of the road, always use your turn signals, and yield to pedestrians. Make sure you stop at stop signs and red lights as you would when driving a motor vehicle and always yield to pedestrians. This means you cannot cut across a crosswalk when someone is crossing the street.
Like riders of standard bikes, always wear your helmet (for drivers aged 17 and under this is the law). If you’re unsure which rules apply to you as you operate your e-bike, you can get a driver education booklet from your local MVD.
To Park or Not to Park?
One of the questions that arises in our beautiful state is, “Where can I ride my e-bike when I’m ‘off the beaten path’ in a state or national park?”
This is a great question. State parks allow you to operate your electric bicycle on the same trails designated for motorized vehicles, as do national parks. Once again, it’s never a bad idea to confirm you’ve got the okay to be on a particular path by contacting the state parks and trails department.
Go to the U.S. Forest Service Southwestern Regional website or the Bureau of Land Management Arizona State website for a list of e-bike certified trails and park regulations.
What else can I do to minimize chances of an accident on my e-bike?
After you’ve made sure you are riding your e-bike only where permitted, you can further limit your liability on these vehicles by adhering to similar rules used by standard cyclists:
Play Nice with Others on the Road:
Keep in mind your fun new vehicle may be a surprise to those around you, especially since it’s faster than a standard bike yet quieter than non-electric motorized bikes. Give those you share the road with a little help by assuming you see them before they see you, and drop your speed as you near them.
Make Yourself Known:
Be redundantly obvious about your location and your next move. Whenever possible, make it extremely clear you’re about to pass pedestrians or other bikes by using hand signals and turn signals. Again, it’s best to slow down in case they don’t see you coming and stray into your path.
Reflective clothing and bright colors are a great idea. Again, think in terms of making sure there’s no way to not be aware of your presence on the road. Use the light on your bike. If your model doesn’t have lights, you can install after-market lights for additional visibility.
As this exciting new travel option is adopted by outdoor enthusiasts, it’s realistic to expect e-bike accidents to join the ranks of attorney practice areas. But with mindful awareness of and adherence to the rules of operation, e-bike riders and those they share the road with can minimize e-bike accidents on Arizona roads.
If you or a loved one have been considering purchasing an electric bicycle, read our e-bike safety tips. If you have more questions, contact our experienced Gilbert Personal Injury Lawyers at Free Injury Advice today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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