Electric Bike Dangers

Written by Aitken * Aitken * Cohn

Over the past few years, electric bikes have grown in popularity as a fun, energy-efficient way to get around town while offering many health benefits. The pandemic helped push more e-bikes into cities as people began turning away from public transportation and opted for a faster way to get places. Despite being an affordable and flexible form of travel, new reports highlight a surge in accidents and dangers associated with these types of motorized vehicles that can result in severe injuries, such as spinal cord injuries and brain injuries.

The Department of Motor Vehicles defines an e-bike as a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor. Most e-bikes fall into one of three types, with the fastest class reaching up to 28 MPH. You don’t need a driver’s license to operate an e-bike, but users must be at least 16-years-old and always wear a helmet in case of an accident.

App-based services like Lime offer e-bikes for rent in some popular tourist-destination cities.

According to an article by the Washington Post, some dangers come with owning or using electric bikes, and it’s essential to be aware of them. E-bikes are heavier and travel quicker than traditional bikes, posing a greater risk of injury to the rider and other people on the road. A Reuters report found that e-bike injuries were more than three times as likely to involve a collision with a pedestrian than either scooter or traditional bike injuries, and those injuries were more serious than other types of motorized vehicles such as scooters. Public safety experts have discussed how e-bikes are not designed to share typical paved pathways with traditional bikers, and riders may lose control of their bikes because of the faster acceleration these types of bikes get.

Some common injuries associated with e-bike accidents include:

  • Broken bones
  • Injuries resulting in internal bleeding
  • Head and back injury
  • Spinal cord injury

Last year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that injuries stemming from their use had spiked 70% over the past four years, resulting in nearly 200,000 emergency room visits. The CPSC found multiple deaths occurring after other vehicles hit e-bike riders, including trucks. In August 2019, CBS News reported a 43-year-old who suffered fatal head injuries after crashing into a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Recently, television personality Simon Cowell suffered an e-bike accident while riding around London and suffered minor injuries. The Daily Mail U.K. reported that this was Cowell’s second accident involving his electric bike, the first in which he sustained a back injury.

Fire and safety officials are also warning that consumers need to take precautions with electric bikes after an increase in battery fires linked to the devices. Lithium-ion batteries, the type used to power e-bikes, have been found to overheat and catch fire under certain conditions, especially if they are not charged or disposed of properly. Last year, New York fire officials reported over 75 e-bike fires, which caused multiple injuries and three deaths. Last month, an e-bike’s battery burst into flames while charging in a New York restaurant, which injured one firefighter. Consumer Reports recently outlined some tips fire officials have offered to keep consumers safe:

  • Purchase and use devices that are certified by a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Do not charge a device under your pillow, on your bed, or near a couch.
  • Always use the manufacturer’s cord, and power adapter explicitly made for the device.
  • Store batteries away from anything flammable.
  • Do not leave e-bikes unattended while they’re charging, and don’t leave them charging overnight.
  • Do not block your primary way into and out of the building with an e-bike.
  • Do not leave an e-bike in a child’s room.

Several Orange County cities, including Huntington Beach and San Clemente, have started implementing regulations regarding the use of e-bikes to protect public safety. The Orange County Register reported that San Clemente officials saw an influx of electric bikes during the pandemic and were looking to find ways to avoid collisions between bike riders and pedestrians on the tight sidewalks. City officials were looking into setting stricter rules prohibiting e-bikes on popular beach trails, including more education about the set restrictions on the pier. In Huntington Beach, officials welcomed the use of e-bikes on the beach path but claimed they would need more education and enforcement to ensure the bikes would be able to ride with other people on the bike path.

Electric bike accident injuries are often devastating for victims. Along with the immense physical and emotional pain and suffering these injuries can cause, victims often incur tremendous medical expenses and a lowered quality of life after the incident. Our team of Orange County personal injury attorneys at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn, which has an office in San Clemente, has decades of combined legal experience helping clients recover full compensation in the aftermath of a bicycle accident. Our firm has the resources necessary to conduct a full investigation into the case and help obtain maximum compensation for your losses. Contact our Southern California firm today.