Electric bicycles, also known as e-bikes – have grown in prominence over the past several months as the preferred mode of transportation for younger people throughout California. However, with that popularity comes problems when it comes to children age 12 to 14 operating what is effectively a motorized vehicle.
As summer winds down, the most common destination for e-bikes will transition from the beach to schools that are providing much-needed training. These motorized transports are beginning to fill bike racks and alleviating the need for parents to drive them to school.
Convenience comes at a cost
Encinitas is one of a handful of school districts in San Diego County that have implemented not only policies but also training courses to educate children on ebike safety, including knowing the correct side of the street on which to travel, the need to ride with not against the traffic, the need for helmets, and no passengers.
E-bike demand is high, with many stores selling out quickly at a “sticker price” ranging from $500 to more than $2,000. However, with that enthusiasm comes detractors concerned with the safety of the bicycles.
Their concerns have merit. Some e-bikes can travel close to 28 miles per hour and require operators to carry insurance and be at least 16 years old, the legal age to drive a car. However, many models do not have those requirements.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 133,000 people have been injured, and 41 have died in accidents involving not only e-bikes but also e-scooters and hoverboards. That number will continue to rise, putting the lives of young people at risk.