E-bike collisions spark safety concerns in schools

Following a rise in electric bike collisions, local schools have implemented new e-bike policies on campus and increased safe-biking education this year.

Collisions involving bikes — both electric and traditional — increased by approximately 50% in the communities of Encinitas, Del Mar and Solana Beach from 2018 to 2022, according to data from the San Diego County Sheriff, reported by the Del Mar Times.

These communities are served by multiple schools in SDUHSD, including TPHS. In response to increases in collisions — including the death of a San Dieguito Academy student who was killed in an e-bike-car collision in June — multiple SDUHSD campuses have implemented new policies, including requiring students to have bike permits.

While middle school students have special rules for bikes, particularly e-bikes, no high school within SDUHSD — including TPHS — specifies any such rules on their websites.

“For practical purposes, as the largest site in the district there’s no way for us to do that,” Coppo said, explaining why TPHS does not have strict regulation on e-bikes.

With the rise in e-bike use, California has implemented statewide regulations on the vehicles. Instituted in 2023, the California vehicle code states that e-bikes cannot exceed 750 W in power, as well as not exceeding the 28 mph mark on flat ground.

Artur Arakelian (10), who rides his e-bike to school every day, has experienced a few near-collisions.

“There [have] been a few times where a car has been close to hitting me,” Arakelian said.

Like Arakelian, Ariel Kemani (10) frequently rides his bike around his neighborhood.

“I think the current e-bike regulations are good, for the most part,” Kermani said.

However, most e-bikes are “far too slow to merge when necessary” and “deal safely” with high traffic roads, according to Kermani.

In light of the current e-bike dangers across California, one proposed bill, AB 530, looks to double down on the current e-bike laws. According to California Legislative Information, AB 530 would require passing an online written test as well as receiving state-issued photo identification to be able to attain an e-bike permit. The bill also looks to ban all children under 12 from riding e-bikes. Coppo encourages the state to take action.

“The state has got to do something to curb this because we see them as bikes, but we use them as motorcycles, and that’s not sustainable,” Coppo said. “I don’t know how many injuries or deaths it would take before someone says maybe this isn’t such a great idea.”

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