E-Bicycles: How Safe is the Latest Rideshare Trend?


Motorized and electric bicycles are gaining in popularity in recent years. On top of this technological jump, rideshare e-bikes are also becoming more and more popular. Several major cities across the country have allowed e-bicycle rideshare companies to conduct business within their boundaries, which lets people rent a motorized bicycle for a per-minute cost.

While being able to drop a few dollars to rent a bicycle for a grocery run seems like a great idea, you should first stop and ask about the safety of e-bikes and rideshare programs that use them. What sort of hazards can arise when using a rideshare e-bicycle, and what can you do to avoid them?

Here’s what every bicyclist should know about motorized and rideshare e-bicycles:

  • Proper licensing might be required: The first thing you should know about motorized bicycles is that they are not exactly the same as an electronic or e-bike. In many states, motorized bicycles are seen as a specialty form of transportation that requires riders to pass a set of prerequisites. For example, in Indiana, riders who use motorized bicycles must be at least 15 years old, possess a state-recognized license or driver’s license, register the motorized bike with the state, and affix a license plate to it. Check with your local department of transportation for specific rules for motorized bicycle use in your state.
  • Little to no maintenance: When it comes to e-bikes used in rideshare programs, please be warned that there is no guarantee the bikes have undergone any sort of recent maintenance. As with e-scooters, there have been many reports of e-bicycle accidents being caused by brake failures, unstable wheels, and loose handlebars. You will need to give any rented e-bike an inspection yourself before you use it. Even then, there could be some safety issues that you cannot notice at a glance but that should have been fixed by the bike-sharing company.
  • Helmet needed but not supplied: If you get into a bicycle accident, a properly fitted helmet can save you from suffering a serious head or brain injury. However, most e-bicycle companies do not offer a helmet to riders but instead require them to bring their own. The trouble of this trust-based system is that the rideshare apps do little at all to enforce helmet use rules.
  • Sidewalk use could be prohibited: Riding a motorized bicycle or e-bike on the sidewalk might not be permitted in your area. Even if using sidewalks for a makeshift bicycle lane is allowed in your state, county, or city, it is probably still prohibited to use the sidewalk while riding a bicycle with any sort of self-propelled operation. When in doubt, you should assume that you need to use bike lanes and the street while being mindful of the traffic around you. To be certain, though, check your local transportation laws before heading out.

In case you ever get into a bicycle accident while riding a motorized or e-bike in Indiana, know that Tabor Law Firm can help you seek fair compensation afterward. Our law firm is located in Indianapolis, but we regularly assist clients from all corners of the state. Call (317) 236-9000 for additional information about our legal services and your rights after an accident.

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