There seems to be some issue about a road vehicle lately that is causing some discussions in many communities. E-bikes are more and more common for commuters since gas prices have gone higher. The problem seems to be, are they a scooter or a bicycle, or something in between and where should these riders ride these vehicles?
Riders of e-bikes can reach speeds of up to 32 km/h. Many have taken these vehicles onto pedestrian and bike paths, which can make it very risky for pedestrians along the way. Keeping these vehicles on public roads can also make it dangerous for the riders of e-bikes as their speed is often 50% of what the drivers who pass them are doing. Some people wish to have these vehicles off those pedestrian/bike paths as they feel the danger is too high for pedestrians. I fully understand their concerns, but perhaps there are other solutions to consider.
Typically, e-bikes can travel on any road that bicycles can travel on. Certain municipalities may prohibit these e-bikes, even though they allow bicycles. Part of the problem with that scenario is there are many bicycle riders who can also reach speeds of 30 km/h and above while they ride on bicycle paths and in bicycle lanes, so why not e-bikes? That’s a good question and not one to ignore.
Why not educate the riders of e-bikes to help them stay safe on the roads and near pedestrians? Learning to share the road with all road users is the responsibility of all road users. They need to constantly use their mirrors, signal their intentions, yield their right of way and take it when safe to do so. The penalties are the same for the riders of bicycles and for the riders of e-bikes, so each rider needs to know, based upon their jurisdiction. (What are e bikes?)
Sometimes the riders of e-bikes are caught in the middle. Their device is often too slow for public roads, but too fast for public walking and biking paths. So where should they go? If they are prohibited on pathways, give them another safe alternative. The key word here is safe.
For safety reasons, e-bikes should be allowed in bicycle lanes. If the rider comes up to another cyclist, they should pass when it is safe to do so. Just like any other road user. If a quicker cyclist comes upon a slower moving one, they pass when safe to do so. Why not the same for riders of an e-bike? One of the purposes of bicycle lanes is to allow those riders a safer place to be and to keep some space between them and motor vehicles. That plan is working, for the most part. Riders of e-bikes should also have the same benefits since they have similar concerns.
Most of these riders are conscious of the pedestrians near them and keep their speeds down, but there are a few that seem to wreck it for everyone else. Do we need a law because of those few instead of rewarding the masses because they are more aware of the risks and adjust their driving accordingly? I see someone who lives in my community travel safely each day in the bicycle lane. They signal turns and yield right of way when required. I’d hate to penalize someone like that because of the few who are careless and reckless.