Electric bikes have popped up in city after city since their arrival a few years back, and now you are going to see more of them in Houston. Houston BCycle has recently started a pilot program for electric bicycles. The bikes have a battery operated motor, can reach up to 17 miles per hour, and even have a solar panel on the front basket to recharge the battery.
While some Houstonians are excited about this new launch, many are also worried for the safety of the city. Over the past few years, hundreds of e-bike riders have sustained major injuries; some have even died while using the vehicles. Other concerns have also circulated about whether or not Houston is the right city for e-bikes, as the city is already dealing with deficiencies in infrastructure for regular bicyclists.
Dangers Unique to Electric Bikes
Though the mode of transportation is certainly healthier for the environment, there are numerous dangers and risks specific to this type of transportation. Some of the most common dangers unique to electric bikes include:
- High speeds that lead to dangerous or impossible sudden stops.
- Not knowing when the bike is on or off due to how quiet the bikes are.
- Passing a pedestrian or regular bicyclist silently at high speeds.
- Riders not following the laws of the road because they forget or disregard the fact that they are on a motorized vehicle.
- Throttle getting stuck in an unexpected or dangerous location on the road.
- Applying too much throttle when it isn’t necessary.
- Front fork bike failure causing dangerous head first falls.
Is Houston Ready for Electric Bikes?
Aside from common dangers associated with electric bike use, another factor affecting the safety of e-bike riders is a city’s infrastructure. If the city already has safety issues when it comes to pedestrians and traditional bicyclists, is it really ready to have an electric bike thrown into the mix?
Almost daily, there are pedestrian and bike accidents across the city of Houston, often resulting in serious injuries and even fatalities. Due to high traffic and distracted or negligent drivers, Houston has some of the most dangerous intersections in the state. In 2016 and 2017 the road death count for non-motorists included 160 people walking and 14 people biking killed in crashes. It seems as though existing road safety laws are not holding up, and adding another vehicle to this situation with so few regulations can only make things worse.
Get Accident Help
With the rise in popularity of e-bikes in our city, we have to be extra cautious. Stay extremely alert while on the road, follow the road safety signs and traditional laws, and never use the vehicles after drinking.