Safety Tips for Riding an E-Bike
You are probably wondering whether e-bikes are dangerous, especially after hearing confusing information about e-bike accidents. Concerns are heightened even more when you hear that a well-known person has been severely injured, such as what happened with celebrity Simon Cowell who required back surgery after a fall.So, it’s important to gather all of the correct information you can before deciding that riding an e-bike is for you.Electric bikes are generally as safe as regular bikes but do have some added risks because of their electric power. However, there are simple safety tips to follow that’ll remove any potential increase in danger.
If you take the time to learn safe riding techniques, follow distinct road rules, check your equipment regularly, and use the appropriate gear, you’ll be just as safe as riding a regular bike. So if you’re wondering… are electric bikes dangerous… you’d better read on!
How to Ride an E-Bike Safely
In many ways, riding an electric bike is just like riding a normal bicycle. You need to balance yourself while pedaling, make turns, apply the brakes when needed, and watch for cars and pedestrians. However, there are a few concerns that are unique to riding on an e-bike, primarily having to do with its increased speed and power.But fortunately, there are easy ways of minimizing these risks. Just follow these tips!Don’t Start Off Too Fast!One of the biggest mistakes new e-bike riders make is to hop on and head off too fast. This is so easy to do since your e-bike is typically defaulted to pedal assist level 1. And if you’ve never felt what it’s like to have pedal assistance, you can end up taking off a little too fast, especially if you’re starting on even a small downhill.
Instead, try to start on a flat surface in a safe place that isn’t headed directly into the street. And make sure you’re starting at the lowest level of assistance (check your pedal assist gear level before riding). This becomes even more important because once you’re moving, stopping may not happen as quickly.
Additionally, if you have a throttle, you can take off unexpectedly. You might not be prepared for this sudden lurch forward and attempt to stop immediately, which will be harder after your unexpected burst of speed.
So, try out the throttle for the first time somewhere quiet and safe, an empty parking lot perhaps. And apply the throttle slowly (this is not a motorcycle after all!). Once you get a feel for it, you’ll know how much effort to give it to get you started at a reasonable speed.
Understand The Power of Your E-Bike
Many e-bikes can go up to 20-30 mph, depending on the battery and motor power, as well as your weight, and wind, and road factors. A regular bike just won’t move at this speed for average riders. So, this is something new to get used to and the only way to get comfortable with the speed is practice, practice, practice.So try out different levels of pedal assist and gear shifts while you’re in an uncrowded place. Although you’re probably excited to ride new places, I promise that you’ll have tons of time to ride everywhere you want to go later.Further, to stay safe while riding such a powerful e-bike, you should consider other factors such as the type of terrain you’re riding on, the number of pedestrians around, and automobile traffic.
Always match your speed with your surroundings, slowing down when approaching pedestrians and moving as far around them as possible, or riding with the speed of traffic.
Watch Your Turns!
In general, electric bikes are bulkier and heavier than regular bikes. This tends to make them less agile and reduces the ability to take tight or fast turns. Compare this to driving a large SUV instead of a small sports car… you need to take turns slower in an SUV or risk it flipping over, while you can really hug the corners with the sports car.I’ve actually fallen on my e-bike when trying to make a tight turn and not slowing down enough first. So be prepared to slow down before heading into a turn.Use Your Rear-View MirrorWhen you’re riding at a higher speed, which is easy to do with an e-bike, you’ll need to maneuver it quickly when presented with turns, lane changes, and stops at intersections or to avoid hitting someone or something.
A rear-view mirror can really help with this when you need to make fast decisions. This is one of the top items on our Recommended Gear list! And many e-bikes don’t come with them when you buy. However, they’re inexpensive and you should have one right away. They’re easy to clip onto your handlebar, but just make sure you find one with a clip size that fits your e-bike.
E-Bike Road Rules & Safety Tips
E-Bikes can move faster than regular bikes, pedestrians, and even possibly cars (especially when in cities with traffic) which can increase the chance of accidents. So, aren’t electric bikes dangerous then?
Fortunately, most e-bikes only go up to 20-30 mph at their top speed. You’ll want to understand how fast your bike can go and what the implications of that are before you head too far from home. In other words, take these tips seriously!Ride With the TrafficJust like riding a traditional bike, you should always ride with traffic, not against it.However, the concern with an e-bike is that you may be riding too fast, thanks to your motor assistance, and actually passing traffic. This can be unsafe if a car doesn’t see you. Will a car be expecting a bicyclist to come up extra fast on their right when they’re moving over to take a turn? Probably not. And will you be able to slow down fast enough when you see a car moving into the same lane just in front of you? Maybe not.
Further, you’ll be expected not to surpass the posted, legal speed limit, and an electric bike can easily do that in school or construction zones not to mention residential streets.The way to stay safe on an e-bike just might be to restrict your use of pedal assistance in these key places.
Always use a bell or warning when passing or riding close to other people. They could move into your path unexpectedly or get frightened or annoyed when you whiz on past. And since you could be moving at a faster speed than a normal bike, every time you pass someone is a potential accident waiting to happen.
So, not only will you and they be safer by giving a warning that you’re near, a pedestrian will be happier to share the space with you, which will make your ride more pleasant as well.Just be respectful. Use your bell and/or let someone know you’re passing using a friendly call such as “On your left… Thank you” or “Excuse me”. It’s also much safer to slow down when you pass, especially if it’s a child, dog, or elderly person who may suddenly move or sway out in front of you.
Use Extreme Caution Riding Near Other Moving Vehicles
Unfortunately, cars don’t always realize how fast you may be riding, especially on an electric bike. So, when they turn left in front of you, it’s probably because they’ve assumed that you won’t get across the street before they do.
However, on an e-bike, with the assistance of a motor and throttle, you’re likely to get across the street in a couple of seconds, ending up meeting the car in the intersection.Therefore, you never want to assume that you’re safe to go just because you have the right of way. Instead, proceed with caution and make eye-contact with the driver before crossing the intersection.Don’t Take the Right of Way!Yes, you might legally have the right-of-way on your e-bike when crossing at an intersection. However, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to take it!
You will always lose the battle against a two-ton hunk of metal. So, even if you think you can beat a car through an intersection by using your throttle or speeding up your electric gears, you might just let the car go first in some cases. For example, let the car win if you haven’t made eye contact with the driver, if the drive keeps moving forward (even slowly) or if you can see the driver is speeding or acting reckless.
Restrict Your Power and Speed
When riding around pedestrians or cars, make sure your speed keeps the safety of yourself and others in mind. If you’re using electric power assistance, keep it one level lower than you would under other circumstances. This’ll slow you down a little and make it easier to stop quickly.Safe E-Bike Riding in SummaryAlthough there are risks associated with riding an electric bike, you can see that they can be as safe as other riding traditional bikes if you follow a few rules and safety checklists.
Make sure you follow the safety tips for riding which include using safe electric bike riding techniques, following road rules, checking your equipment regularly, and wearing or bringing along important safety gear. Doing these things will minimize the added risks that come from power and speed on an e-bike.
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