Do we need more safety studies, laws for e-bikes? – Orange County Registry
As the popularity of electric bicycles continues to grow and injuries and accidents increase among users, a state legislature is proposing a bill that will explore ways to improve safety and reconsider the rules governing fast-moving transportation.
State Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, recently announced his legislation and said that aside from age restrictions and helmet requirements, there haven’t been any major changes in statewide safety standards as e-bikes have become commonplace, leaving local communities with limited options lets protect the safety of its residents.
“As the proud owner and rider of an electric scooter, I am aware of how practical e-bikes are and how important they will be in reducing CO2 emissions,” he said. “But the increasing popularity of e-bikes also creates new challenges that require us to rethink the rules in place to keep our roads safe.”
E-bikes are powered by electricity and can reach speeds of up to 32 km/h, in contrast to the rider of a conventional bicycle, who delivers all the power with his pedaling. And sometimes they’re driven by teenagers who have little or no knowledge of the rules of the road.
Data from Providence Mission Hospital shows a sharp increase in injuries over the past several years, and Dr. Tetsuya Takeuchi, his head of trauma medicine, said these injuries are going beyond the fractures common in traditional bicycle accidents, as more people sustain head and internal organ injuries at higher-velocity impacts.
In 2020, the hospital saw a “statistically significant” increase in e-bike accidents, prompting administrators to keep statistics on injuries.
Six pediatric e-bike injuries were reported in 2020, according to Mission Hospital statistics. Since the use of e-bikes was only just beginning to take off, statistics for adults were not yet collected.
In 2021, there were 113 injured e-bike riders who required medical attention in hospital. That year also saw two deaths, both adults, one with a helmet, the other without.
By the following year, the number of injuries had nearly doubled.
Last year, 222 patients sought help at Mission Hospital after e-bike injuries — 171 were male and 51 were female. More than half of the injuries involved children, 72 of whom were under the age of 14 and 31 between the ages of 15 and 17.
Five of the injuries were classified as critical, 67 as moderate and nine as serious, 141 as minor. An estimated 147 cases reported head or neck injuries.
Takeuchi said thankfully no deaths were reported at the mission hospital last year.
An interesting note: the most common cause of injury over the past 40 years has been falls. But last year that changed for pediatrics. The most common cause of injuries in children last year was e-bike accidents.
“You can see that children are being hurt disproportionately,” Takeuchi said. “That’s an alarming fact.”
Where do most injuries happen? Hospital statistics list 49 injuries in San Clemente, while San Juan Capistrano, Ladera Ranch, and Laguna Niguel each had 16 injuries.
The numbers would be higher outside of San Clemente, as most cases there end up at Mission Hospital, while injuries in cities further north, like Irvine or Newport Beach, may end up at Hoag Hospital or another care center.
But there’s no denying it: “San Clemente is the mecca of e-bikes around the world,” said Takeuchi.
Since the hospital started its free helmet program with the help of donor funds, more than 1,000 helmets have been given out, he said.
Over the past year, helmet use has increased among users aged 17 and under, said Takeuchi. A fall of a 13-year-old without a helmet resulted in significant brain injuries. While he eventually went home, “It was worrying,” Takeuchi said.
Stricter laws should happen yesterday, Takeuchi said. “It has to happen as soon as possible.”
Two immediate measures should be taken, he suggested. Firstly, the classification of e-bikes needs to be clarified, as they can differ in motor power and speed, and this is not always clear to the consumer, e.g. B. when parents buy a bicycle for their child, he argued.
“It’s really hard to distinguish what class a bike actually belongs to. This should be mandatory for manufacturers and sellers. That’s the first step,” he said.
He also wants helmets to be compulsory for adults. Convincing them to wear helmets was less successful.
“Let’s treat them like motorcycles,” he said.
And there should be more enforcement against drinking and serving the speeding bikes.
“That is a big problem. They tend not to wear helmets and get drunk,” Takeuchi said. “I don’t know why they think that’s a good idea.”
If passed, the bill would authorize a study on “best practices to improve the safety and use of electric bicycles and similar types of vehicles.”
The Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University would be tasked with preparing a report and submitting it to lawmakers that would provide evidence-based recommendations for future legislation or regulatory changes related to e-bike use, manufacturing dates, mandatory safety accessories, etc. traffic rules, he said Min’s office.
Several city officials supported the proposal to study e-bike use, particularly in coastal cities where use is more common.
Huntington Beach Councilor Natalie Moser said as a mother, it disturbs her to see children riding electric bikes without a helmet or wearing them but not fastening the straps.
While e-bikes are an incredible alternative mode of transportation that gives people the freedom to get out of their cars, more can be done to keep people safe, she said. “There have been situations, accidents and incidents where people have either been injured or were about to be injured.”
A study like Min’s proposed could help communities find the best safety practices and how to enforce them, she said.
The city of Huntington Beach is already working with local high schools to conduct training programs to teach teens the traffic rules when riding electric bikes, she said. “I think all of those things together and the public education and awareness will help.”
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/02/17/legislation-would-ask-are-more-safety-studies-laws-needed-for-e-bikes/ Do we need more safety studies, laws for e-bikes? – Orange County Registry