Congested roads and insufficient public transportation have led many Californians to look for other ways to get around. So far, the clear winners have been electric scooters, bikes, mopeds, and other battery-powered two-wheeled vehicles. These modes of transport are convenient, easy to use, and significantly faster than walking.
However, the increase in electric rides hasn’t come without consequences. California cities are finding that e-bikes and similar devices are connected to significant spikes in traffic accidents. For example, Carlsbad, CA, has seen a 233% increase in bike accidents in the last three years alone, with more than half involving e-bikes.
If you ride an e-bike or the publicly available scooters found around California, you must be aware of your increasing risks. Here’s why these devices are so often connected to severe accidents, the laws surrounding them, and how you can protect yourself when you’re on the road.
The Dangers of Electric Bikes and Scooters
Electric personal vehicles aren’t inherently dangerous. In fact, they’re less risky than motorcycles because of built-in speed restrictions.
So why are these vehicles connected to spiking accidents? There are two reasons. First, the use of these vehicles has skyrocketed in recent years, so there are simply more of them on the road. Second, they are more likely to put riders in dangerous circumstances. People riding e-bikes or electric scooters are getting hurt due to:
- Location: Scooters and e-bikes are banned from sidewalks, so riders are forced to be in bike lanes or on the road, where they are more vulnerable to car accidents.
- Lack of visibility: Mopeds and electric scooters face a similar problem to motorcycles. They’re required to share the road with cars but are significantly smaller and easier to miss. Distracted drivers may hit riders because they simply didn’t see them.
- Lack of protection: Unlike car drivers, e-bike and scooter riders have almost no physical protection. There are no crumple zones or airbags protecting them if they get hit.
- Speed: Since these vehicles can go as fast as 30 mph, accidents are more likely to involve high-speed impacts. These are significantly more likely to cause severe injuries and fatalities.
- Road rage: Some drivers simply don’t want to share the road with e-bikes or scooters. These drivers may act aggressively, pushing riders off the road or otherwise forcing them into situations where accidents are inevitable.
Protecting Yourself on the Road
Despite the dangers, e-bikes, scooters, and other electrically assisted modes of transportation are convenient and accessible in ways that public transit and cars are not. There’s no reason to stop using them as long as you’re prepared to keep yourself safe. Here’s how you can protect yourself and reduce the risk of accidents while riding around.
Follow Legal Requirements for E-Bikes and Scooters in California
California has implemented some restrictions on these devices to try to keep people safe. Following these laws is essential to avoid liability for any accidents in which you’re involved.
- Speed: Scooters may not go more than 15 mph, and e-bikes may not use a motor to go more than 28 mph. All riders must follow local speed limits at all times.
- Protective gear: Anyone younger than 18 must wear a helmet on any electric device. If the vehicle has a motor that allows the rider to go more than 20 miles an hour, all riders must wear helmets.
- Location: Scooters and e-bikes may not be used on sidewalks. Riders should use bike lanes whenever possible but may ride on the road if necessary. E-bikes and scooters are not permitted on freeways, highways, or other high-speed roadways.
- Traffic laws. You’re responsible for knowing and following traffic laws when riding. If you’re using an electrically assisted device, you should be riding in the street in the same direction as traffic. Pay attention to traffic lights and signal which way you’re going to turn, just like if you were driving. This gives drivers around you a better idea of what you will do.
Take Basic Safety Precautions
In addition to following the laws for your device, you should use the same common-sense precautions any cyclist or pedestrian would follow. These include:
- Wear a helmet. Whether or not a helmet is legally required for your ride, it’s still a good idea. Helmets halve the risk of mortality in motorcycle and other accidents. The most fashionable way to arrive somewhere is alive and uninjured.
- Stay alert. Don’t rely on other drivers to follow traffic laws to stay safe. In accidents where cars hit bikes, the cyclist loses no matter who was at fault. Avoid using headphones or other distractions when riding so you’re fully aware and ready to react to bad drivers around you.
- Keep yourself visible. Try to ride only on brightly lit streets if you need to travel after sunset. Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing to give yourself the best chance of being spotted by drivers and avoid accidents. The sooner drivers see you, the more time they have to react, and the less likely you are to be hit.
- Be careful where you ride. You have the right to travel on any road where your vehicle is permitted, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. When you can, ride in bike lanes or other paths dedicated to two-wheeled vehicles. If you have to ride on a road without a bike lane, stay toward the edge so you can get out of the way quickly.
Get Help for Your E-Bike Accident
No matter how many precautions you take, you may still get in an accident with a distracted driver. If so, you deserve compensation for your injuries and the losses you suffer while recovering. That’s where the Ellis Firm, APLC, can help.
Our firm is dedicated to helping accident victims pursue justice and compensation from those who harmed them. Our expert attorneys will discuss your case and help you determine the best path forward. We can help you stand up to insurance companies, litigate your claim, or negotiate a settlement. Schedule your consultation today to learn more about how we will fight for your needs.