eBikes are impacting how people get around either for work, play, exercise, or simply being used as “to and fro” style transportation. But are eBikes dangerous, or at least, are they any more dangerous than regular pedal bikes?
Unsurprisingly, the answer to such questions is different when you look into who’s riding them. Older, more mature riders will have a natural tendency to handle vehicles safer than, say, a kid having fun with his bike. It’s the same no matter what mode of transportation you talk about. Generally speaking, there are more thrill seekers between the teen years to the mid-20s than there are from the mid-20s and up.
The more an eBike is used to fulfill one’s thrill-seeking behavior, the more often you’ll hear about people getting hurt. eBikes fall into a strange zone all their own. They’re not nearly as dangerous as things like dirt bikes or motorscooters, but they’re in a slightly different range of potential danger than normal pedal bikes.
Though operator error (or negligence) is a danger that can befall anyone who’s driving anything, the following will be a breakdown of how much more or less dangerous eBikes are in and of themselves, and also dig into the question, “dangerous to who?”
How is an eBike Dangerous?
Though eBikes are often found on the cutting edge of biking technology, there isn’t too much to deal with regarding additional parts that you wouldn’t find on a normal pedal bike. There’s the addition of a motor, battery pack, and just a few other things that aren’t particularly threatening.
However, one could argue that batteries can be dangerous due to being a fire hazard if damaged, or a motor can malfunction and lose its mind, getting stuck accelerating rather than allowing for safe braking. Are these things common? No, not by a long shot, but one could make the argument as aforementioned.
The addition of motors and batteries introduces speed, which is often where accidents begin to happen, and more responsibility needs to be applied by the driver. More often than not, an eBike becomes dangerous only when the driver is using it dangerously.
Injuries that have been documented that have resulted in either misusing an eBike, driving it erratically, or other accidents that are outside of the driver’s control (auto collisions where the other driver is at fault, etc.) are severe, but not what could be considered outside of the norm when compared to pedal bikes.
Are eBikes More Dangerous than Regular Bikes?
When talking about which one is more dangerous, it can’t be ignored that eBikes are generally faster and also accelerate faster to get to speed. So, if there’s a bad choice about to be made up ahead, the driver will have less time to rethink their options than someone on a pedal bike.
There are other things to consider like the frames are generally beefier than those on a pedal bike, weigh more, and the tires are often wider (which makes them heavier than regular tires of a comparable pedal bike). The additional weight or bulk might be more challenging until you get used to it, especially if it’s someone’s first time swapping from a regular pedal bike to an eBike.
For example, if you check out Hovsco eBikes, the first thing you’ll notice is that their frames are built to last- they’re much stronger than a regular mountain bike or other comparable-sized bikes. The tires are wider (not always bigger in circumference though, just the width), with each design meant to handle specific challenges, and some being able to be more universal terrain-wise.
I bring that up because differences can be dangerous when a new rider is not prepared for it. More weight or a difference in handling can cause an inexperienced rider to try and do things that a lighter bike can do that may not work so well with a heavier bike.
Is an eBike more dangerous than a regular pedal bike? Slightly, but we’re not exactly comparing apples to apples.
Safety Tips for eBike Owners
The following are going to be some common-sense tips directed toward eBike owners, that will help to keep them safe and better able to have a pain-free experience while using their bikes. However, it must be said, that if you’re familiar with safety tips for regular pedal bikes, some of these tips won’t exactly be groundbreaking. If that’s the case, everyone needs a good refresher no matter how skilled or well-versed they may be in terms of safety and biking.
Here are 6 tips to help your eBiking experience positive:
Get Into the Habit of Wearing a Helmet
Yes, you’ve heard this before, but it’s only good common sense. Wearing a helmet helps to keep that gray matter between your ears in top condition when an accident or wipe-out happens.
Don’t forget, you’re likely to be going faster than you would on a normal bike, so whatever you hit will make all that much harder of an impact. A helmet doesn’t keep people free from injuries, but they do help to protect things that will not heal back to the way it once was like bones or abrasions can.
Keep Aware of Your Surroundings when Driving Your eBike
An oblivious biker is typically soon to become an injured or deceased one. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving a big wheel, a pedal bike, eBike, a scooter, a moped, or a motorcycle. People will often disappoint you, particularly if you’re depending on them for your safety while on the road.
Driving defensively, remaining aware of your surroundings, and paying attention to anticipate what others in front of you are doing, are sure ways to keep you upright, safe, and out of the hospital.
Make Sure your eBike is in Good Working Order
Just like anything, an eBike can have problems when warning signs are avoided. Giving your ride a thorough once over before taking off for any real amount of time is a great habit to get into. Is the battery secured properly? Are the tires in good shape? Has anything come loose at all?
You’ll especially want to be sure that the battery is fully charged or at least holding enough charge to survive what you’re about to put it through. Don’t forget to ensure that your brakes are in tip-top shape as well.
Learn and Obey the Rules of the Road
Different places have different rules for different vehicles. Do you know the local ordinances about bike traffic? If not, it’s a good idea to get familiar with them to keep yourself safe and out of trouble with local law enforcement.
Keep in mind that due to the motor, some places may have a specific category that your eBike might fall in. Aside from those kinds of legalities, use common sense. If your bike can exceed a posted speed limit, don’t. Go with the flow of traffic, stop where you’re supposed to, and wait when you’re supposed to; simple, common rules for the road.
Where Applicable- Try a Safety Course
If you are intimidated by your eBike due to the extra power that it has available, try to find a course nearby that will help you with techniques to handle it as easily as you would a normal bike. You might need to do some digging to find such a course, as they aren’t as routine as say, a driver safety course for a car or motorcycle.
If you can’t find one close enough to you that makes sense, find someone who is an experienced eBike user and reach out. Every little bit of info you can get to help you become more comfortable can make a long-term difference and assist you to remain safe on the road.
Get an eBike that Suits Your Purposes
Like pedal bikes, there are a variety of eBikes available to suit different purposes. Some for fun, some for work, and some for long-distance exercise. For example, if you head over to Hovsco.com, you will see a variety of different eBikes, with each style catering to certain riding styles or tastes.
For a couple of suggestions, if you’re looking to cruise around city streets leisurely, the HovCity Step Thru Cruiser would be a great choice. If you’re looking to use an eBike for work-related purposes or to carry any kind of cargo, you’d want to get a bike like the Hovsco HovCart, which is designed to carry a decent load with a 750w motor to handle the weight. Then again, what if you’re more interested in off-road biking? In that case, you’d be better off with the HovAlpha than with either of the other selections.
Having an eBike that suits your needs more directly will help you to remain safe, or will at least keep you from damaging your bike or potentially resulting in an accident. It’s like regular bikes when you think about it. For example, if you try to climb a tall hill on a one-speed BMX bike, you’re not going to have a good time. Or, if you intend on flying through rugged off-road terrain, you’re not going to want to take a 12-speed with slim street tires. Same idea.
What are the Most Common Causes of eBike Accidents?
By far, operator error is the leading cause of eBike accidents. This can be defined by riders driving too fast when approaching a turn or a corner, and also driving too fast upon someplace they need to make a stop, making them unable to make a stop in time to avoid disaster.
Accidents that occur while remaining under the “operator error” distinction also include those that happen when a driver doesn’t follow the rules of the road. When an eBike driver disobeys the rules of the road, they can either wind up being slammed into by a car or truck (which typically doesn’t end well for the person on the eBike), or, the eBike rider slams into someone either on foot or another person on a bike.
Not following the law of the land on an eBike isn’t just a danger to the driver, but also creates dangerous circumstances for innocent passerbys.
eBikes are generally as dangerous as the driver decides to make them. An aware, responsible driver will wind up not having any issues at all under normal circumstances, or at least no more than they would with a pedal bike.