With sales of eBikes in Florida and the United States soaring and little to no regulation on required safety equipment, licensure, or traffic operations, medical experts are seeing more traumatic injuries resulting from eBike crashes, particular in teen riders, as well as fatalities. It is becoming increasingly clear that eBikes are not bicycles and that appropriate safety measures and oversight are needed to decrease Florida eBike injuries and deaths, particularly in young riders.
A Spike in Sales, and Injuries
Studies show, in the U.S. alone, almost 900,000 e-bikes were sold in 2021, a number that nearly doubled sales from the year prior. However, while sales are soaring, record-keeping on severe eBike injuries is not reliable as the proper medical codes aren't available to enable consistent tracking. But, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, estimated emergency department visits due to “micromobility products” (eBikes, eScooters and hoverboards) more than doubled from 2017 to 2021. These numbers will likely continue to swell as more people, young and old, warm to the idea of a bicycle that can be pedaled and operated in/out of traffic lanes like a non-motorized bicycle but also take riders from 20 mph to nearly 30 mph. For teen and Baby Boomers alike, these are residential-street vehicle speeds which can easily result in severe, traumatic injury such as head and neck injuries, traumatic brain injury, spine fractures, chest injuries, solid organ injuries and extremity fractures requiring ICU level care. Read more about spiking eBike injuries here.
Lack of Regulation or Oversight
In the U.S., there are no cohesive policies or regulations that address the fact that eBikes are typically treated like traditional bicycles on our roadways but increasingly causing injuries more akin to motorcycle crashes in our ERs. Administratively, the eBike does not yet fit neatly into one single category of “vehicle,” leaving much of the regulatory responsibility to local governing bodies. In some cities or states, eBikes have access to bike paths and bike lanes. And, in most states, they are exempt from registration or licensing requirements.
eBikes can also be operated by teenagers as young as 12 or 13 years old, alongside cars, where young, inexperienced operators also take full advantage of the fact that they can run stop signs and traffic lights and cut through neighborhoods on paths that should really only be used by pedestrians or non-motorized vehicles. To decrease eBike injuries, eBike manufacturers should include satisfactory warnings, age requirements, or parental controls and authorities should consider enforcing strict helmet laws as well as enacting proper motor vehicle classifications, licensing/certification requirements, or mandatory education—especially for renters of eBikes.
Recovering After an eBike Accident
It won't be long before communities across the country, including Florida, are dealing with the ramifications of the eBike surge, the fastest-growing segment of the bike industry by far. In a Florida eBike accident, there are several parties who may be liable for the injuries and damages caused, including the eBike operator, other riders/drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians involved, as well as the eBike manufacturer or a government entity charged with maintaining the roadway or traffic area where the accident occurred. An experienced accident attorney, like our attorneys at TWWH, can help eBike victims understand their rights and determine who may be responsible for their injuries. We never charge any fee, cost, or obligation to answer your questions and make sure you understand your rights.