E-bike permits necessary to increase safety on the road

Art by Tisya Nair

The roads around TPHS are hectic to say the least, as pedestrians flood the sidewalks and cars compete for every turn. Now, add a new factor to the disarray: electric bikes.

The absurd prevalence of e-bikes in our community, especially among students who do not have their driver licenses yet, reflects the e-bike craze that has swept across the nation in recent months. While they are certainly an efficient way to travel, e-bikes are far more dangerous than standard bicycles: their powerful motors, bulky frame and explosive acceleration make safe maneuvering far more difficult for riders, especially while navigating roads teeming with cars. Busy streets around TPHS have been the site of e-bike recklessness in recent years involving both teenagers and the general public.

Despite the considerable danger that e-bikes pose when not correctly operated, there are currently few restrictions on their use. The minimal guidelines requiring riders to be at least 16 years of age and wear a helmet, and not transport passengers, have not stopped e-bikers from participating in reckless behavior.

However, there is a plausible solution: a mandate by the Department of Motor Vehicles, requiring a permit to ride an e-Bike on public streets. Similar to attaining a driver’s license, potential e-bike purchasers would be educated about the rules of the road and the dangers that come with riding an e-bike before they could receive a permit to ride one.

This education is vital to limiting the amount of reckless and careless use of e-bikes, especially for teenagers who have yet to receive their driver’s license. As seen in our community, these riders frequently use e-bikes as their daily method of transportation but are unaware of the rules of the road, endangering pedestrians, drivers and other riders. This can be effectively addressed through requiring safety education and training as part of acquiring an e-bike permit. Many riders also feel like they can behave recklessly without consequences.

“For some reason when people are on e-bikes they feel like they are above the law,” Rainey Keegan (10) said.

Mandating permits would place riders more firmly within the boundaries of the law and diminish their sense of entitlement on the road.

One needs to look no further than the streets around TPHS to see the dangers e-bikes pose to the general public, especially when operated by teenagers who are uninformed about the basic rules of the road.

Mandating e-bike permits will decrease the likelihood of disastrous accidents and restore order to the roads.

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