News Story: The Danger E-bikes Pose due to High Speed Capabilities

Please read this jarring news article about the danger E-bikes pose due to their high speed capabilities:

Consider these quotes from the article: “Safety and law enforcement agencies are finding that many models marketed to children and young people exceed legal speed limits and are more like motor vehicles that require a driver’s license and registration to operate.” “In the case of e-bikes, some models can be reprogrammed to exceed the 20 mph speed limit permitted for riders under 16; they therefore fall into the category of motor vehicles. The federal government has not yet figured out how best to regulate them.”

Disturbingly, one mother’s comments are quite shocking:

“I know my son and I know his athletic ability,” said one Southern California mother, who asked that her name not be used because she felt that her views might draw criticism. Her son has two e-bikes, a Super73 he got for his 13th birthday and a Talaria he got for his 14th birthday. “He lives on two wheels,” his mother said, adding that the e-bikes were a source of fun for him.

The teenager has modified each of the bikes to go faster than he is legally allowed to ride them; in fact, the Talaria can hit 70 mph. His mother gave him her blessing, she said, and even helped him clip a wire that removes the speed “governor” that ordinarily limits the vehicle to 20 mph.

She posited that the companies designed the bikes to allow the speed caps to be removed. “They want you to be in charge of doing it,” she said, “because they don’t want to be held liable producing a bike that goes 55 miles per hour where a kid goes straight into the concrete.”

Well of course the E-bike companies don’t want to be held liable, yet they knowingly design, build and market these dangerous and even lethal E-bikes to teenagers and young adults, who often lack the good judgement to responsibly operate these vehicles. What are some parents thinking? What are some adult E-bikers thinking?

These are the same E-bikes that will soon be speeding along on Folsom Lake State Park “multi-use” trails, with little to no oversight by State Parks officials who will have no ability to visually discern whether an E-bike is Class 1, 2 or 3 or whether the speed governor has been disabled. What is State Parks thinking?

Multi-use trails with speeding bikes/vehicles traveling among all other trail users are a guaranteed recipe for disaster! Even the 20 mph “factory limit” on a lowly Class 1 bike is very dangerous to trail users and is beyond the State Park’s speed limit. What will State Park’s liability be for deliberately adding speeding bikes to existing trails with slow moving Park visitors?

Consider the death of James Gordon, who was hit by an E-bike rider on a regional bay area “multi-use” path/trail last summer. This is exactly why mountain and E-bikes should be on separate trails, and not on the same trails with other slow moving park visitors at Folsom Lake State Park.

Does State Parks really require that someone dies on a “multi-use trail” before this matter is taken seriously? This will be far more dangerous than a few illegal rope swings along the shoreline of Folsom Lake which have resulted in death and injury to Park visitors recently.

Mike Finta
Vice President,
Ace 4 Safe Trails