Electric bicycles are an efficient way to commute, protect Mother Nature, and save your hard-earned dollars. Plus, it’s fun.
But, let’s face it: understanding e-bike laws is like trying to solve some complex mathematical equation. Why are they so confusing?
With technology ever-evolving, it causes lawmakers to quickly implement solutions that’ll keep people safe. Over time, however, these laws need to be tweaked and ironed out, so they’re easy to comprehend by all.
If you live in a region that allows you to ride an e-bike on the sidewalk, these safety tips will help you to keep cruising without consequences.
E-Bike Sidewalk Laws
As e-bikes become more and more popular in larger U.S. cities, the need for more transparency when it comes to laws has been a heavily debated topic. Whether or not you’re allowed to use your e-bike on the sidewalk will vary depending on your geographical location.
In the U.S., a majority of the e-bike laws are made on a state by state basis. To check what’s permitted in your neighborhood, check out this guide.
Don’t Be a Fool - Ride Safely with These Tips
#1. Wear a Helmet
Say it with me, “Helmets are cool.” Memorize it. While this tip may seem fairly simple or obvious, many people opt to ride sans helmet and let’s face it: a helmet could save your life.
There are many unforeseen circumstances that could leave your head bouncing off the hood of a car or scraping the surface of the road. Yes, this sounds quite blunt, but what sounds better in these instances? A baseball cap or a helmet?
We hope you said a helmet.
#2. Take it Easy, Tiger
Ignore your temptation to high tail it down the sidewalk. That would be extremely dangerous. Instead, you should never ride faster than a relaxed jog.
Sidewalks are naturally built for pedestrians and pedaling at break-neck speed will only end with someone getting hurt or you enjoying a little one-on-one time with a police officer.
#3. Yield to Pedestrians
Don’t be a jerk. If you pedal up behind people walking, be respectful and ask politely if you can pass. You never want to ride up to them yelling or ringing a bell - that could ultimately spook them and cause unwanted injuries (which you’d be liable for).
Just remember, you’re technically on their terrain, so always strive to be a courteous rider.
#4. Crosswalks Are Your Jam
Have you ever thought about a good way to get hit by a car? Simply come flying off the sidewalk on your e-bike and enter the street at random, without being mindful that there are cars on the road. Sound like a good plan?
No! The thing is, drivers have their eyes on the road. They aren’t expecting people to cruise off the sidewalk and into traffic like they own the place.
The moral of the story here? If you need to get across the street, do it at a crosswalk and wait until it’s safe!
#5. Be Willing to Walk Your Bike
I know what you’re thinking, “Bikes are made for riding.” While this is true, there are many instances where the best course of action you could take is to hop off your bike and take it for a little stroll.
This will most frequently occur when there’s a lot of congestion and you simply cannot ride your bike safely past pedestrians. The general rule of thumb is, if things seem iffy or dangerous, it’s time to walk for a bit.
#6. Lights Exist...Use Them
While deadly bicycle accidents can happen at any time of day, they most frequently occur at night. So, how can you protect yourself once the sun sets? I don’t want to blow your mind or anything, but here it goes: put extra lights on your bike.
Your bike may have come with a few dinky reflectors, but they really don’t suffice when it comes to your safety after dark; especially in the winter months when it gets dark early.
If you want to put your survival in the hands of a flimsy piece of plastic, go ahead. However, it’s highly recommended that you practice smart riding practices. It’s time to soup up your ride with some extra lights.
You’ll want to add, at a minimum, one white blinking light to the front of your e-bike and one red LED light to the rear of your ride.
The more the merrier in this case. Adding lights to your helmet or the spokes of your e-bike will maximize your visibility and vastly reduce the chances of being struck by a car.
Have to Ride on the Road for a Bit?
Listen up bike-enthusiasts: you are supposed to ride with traffic, not against it. To some people, this may sound incredibly obviously.
However, many people that think riding against traffic is safer because you can actually see the cars coming towards you. This belief = wrong.
Rear-end bicycle collisions occur very rarely compared to other types of bike-related accidents. Statistically speaking, you have a much greater chance of being struck by a car pulling out onto the road.
Why? Because drivers don’t often check for traffic driving in the wrong direction. You have to think like the driver behind the wheel of a car to be safe.
Habitually Check Your Tires
By consistently checking on the state of your tires, you’ll boost your e-bike range while having the control necessary to react quickly should you need to avoid a potential accident. Your tires should always be topped off and you should make a habit of checking on your tire tread to ensure they aren’t bald.
E-bikes and worn tires will never make a good pairing - you’re packing extra power and the last thing you need is to lose control when riding, which could lead to an accident.
Just like driving a car, when you take your e-bike for a ride on the sidewalk, you’re vulnerable to a whole unique set of dangers - i.e. getting right hooked, hitting pedestrians, cars pulling out of driveways, and more.
Always be on the alert and mindful of your surroundings. Now that you’re equipped with the right knowledge to safely ride your e-bike on the sidewalk, your e-bike game will get on a whole other level. Ready to ride?