A New Type of Bicycle Accident That’s Injuring & Killing Teens
There is no question that there has been a scourge of e-bike accidents around the country, including here in Florida. In fact, in Miami-Dade County alone, more than 750 e-bike crashes were recorded in 2020.
As a result, some cities are now declaring a state of emergency when it comes to this technology, as teenagers, in particular, have of late become frequent victims: There have been a number of deaths and emergency room visits involving teen e-bike accidents in the last few years: Specifically, close to 200,000 emergency room visits and more than 50 fatalities.
Too Fast for Sidewalks, Too Slow for Streets
These bikes are, in a sense, stuck in limbo: They tend to travel at an average speed of around 20 miles per hour. However riders frequently get taken into busy roads with 55-mile-per-hour speed limits, which can result in deadly accidents for the bike riders if they get hit by cars, even if they are wearing helmets. As a result, they are dangerous because they do not belong either on sidewalks (too fast), or streets (too slow).
Florida E-Bike Regulations
In addition, a number of e-bikes can exceed the 20 mph suggested speed limit. Florida has very few regulations in place; throughout the state, e-bike riders are allowed to take their bikes anywhere standard bikes are allowed, which includes bike lanes, bike paths, multi use paths, roads and roadway shoulders (right lane). Florida does have age restrictions for e-bike users, but it is similar to those for driving a car: You must be at least 16 years old to use one legally.
Florida also separates e-bikes into three “classes:”
- Class 1: “Pedelecs,” do not exceed 20 miles per hour but do not have throttle assist
- Class 2: Do not exceed 20 mph, but have throttle assist and can move forward, even if you aren’t actively pedaling
- Class 3: Cannot exceed 28 mph and feature a pedal assist system, while helps power the bike forward when the rider pedals, but no throttle assist
As a result, it is legal in Florida to have e-bikes that exceed the suggested 20 mph for teens, and some can even get up to 70 mph.
Indeed, agencies that typically put regulations in place to ensure public safety – such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – haven’t even had a chance to come up with proper federal regulations for e-bikes, and are still evaluating “how best to oversee the safety of e-bikes.”
Contact Our Florida Bicycle Attorneys
Even when ridden at lower speeds, these e-bikes can be extremely dangerous, especially when it involves having to merge into complex traffic with cars, including distracted drivers. This is yet another case where technology has far outpaced the laws and regulations in place to ensure public safety, and as a result, e-bike companies appear to be knowingly selling unsafe products that can easily evade speed limits and endanger young riders.
If you or a loved one has been harmed while riding an e-bike, consulting a personal injury attorney who has experience with bicycle accidents and associated injuries right away is advised. Contact the Florida catastrophic injury lawyers at Smith, Ball, Baez & Prather today to set up a free consultation and find out more about our services – we have offices in, Palm Beach County, and the Treasure Coast.