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Are Electric Bikes Safe to Rent?

By Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie on March 5, 2020

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In recent years, Orange County has experienced a boom in electric bikes, or E-bikes, with local companies and large corporations bringing this trendy form of transportation to Southern California’s coast. And it makes perfect sense. E-bikes can get you to your destination faster, offering low-cost, energy-efficient, emissions-free transportation with benefits for your body and your health. But are they safe?

The answer may surprise you, but electric bikes are no more dangerous than traditional bicycles. They come with different risks, but those risks can be avoided with proper care.

How Are E-Bikes Different Than Traditional Bikes?

The difference between electric bikes and traditional bikes is simple: an E-bike is a regular bike with an electrical drive system. This system consists of:

  • A motor;
  • A battery to power the motor;
  • A drivetrain to integrate the power; and
  • A throttle to control the power

What Are the Risks Associated with Electric Bikes?

Knowing the specific hazards associated with E-biking can help you control the risk of an accident. Those risks include:

  • Battery catching fire: Most electric bikes come with highly combustible Lithium batteries. Nevertheless, a large percentage of E-bike battery fires could be avoided with proper care and precaution. Most of these fires occur with home-built lithium batteries and careless treatment. To minimize the risk, ensure that batteries are purchased from a trusted dealer and carried in a protective metal box during rides. In addition, make sure the bike has a Battery Management System for added safety.
  • Excessive acceleration at the start: Applying too much throttle to start, or starting from a dead stop in high electric gear, causes many minor E-bike accidents. To avoid this type of crash, never apply full throttle until the bike starts moving. Instead, start out in a lower electric gear and gradually accelerate as you gain speed. You can also ensure the throttle and controller are properly dialed up before a long ride and us an electric bike that allows you to select different power levels during a ride.
  • Rider error: Many electric bike accidents occur because of the way a rider treats the bike, rather than an inherent design fault. E-bikes have speed and function similar to a low-performing motorcycle and are more similar to motorcycles than bicycles in some ways. Following speed limits, road signs, and general traffic rules can help ensure your safety, as well as the safety of others around you.

When Are E-Bike Rental Companies Liable for Injuries?

Although many electric bicycle accidents are caused by errors on the part of riders or motor vehicle drivers, some are due to the E-bike malfunctioning. In such cases, the company that manufactured the defective product could be held liable for resulting accidents. Also, after months or years of use, rentable electric bikes may fall into a state of disrepair. In addition to continual daily use, mistreatment by renters can contribute to the bike’s deterioration. But it is the company’s responsibility to ensure the safety of the E-bikes it rents to the public. When an E-bike needs repairs that the company fails to perform in a reasonable amount of time, the company may be liable for resulting injuries.

If you have been hurt in an accident on a defective or broken electric bicycle, call Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie at (949) 752-7474 to schedule a free consultation. Our Orange County bike accident attorneys can tell you if you have a case, and what damages you may be entitled to claim.

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Posted in: Bicycle Accidents

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