The first-ever electric bike (e-bike) safety awareness day will take place on Thursday, Jan 19. More than a dozen community organizations will participate in an e-bike safety awareness campaign to educate the public on basic e-bike safety tips and celebrate the benefits of riding an e-bike. The public is invited to Downtown Santa Barbara’s FitFest at 5 p.m. on Jan. 19 to experience fun-filled fitness activities as well as e-bike safe riding techniques, demonstrations and a not-to-miss Rad Power Bike giveaway.
As in many California communities, Santa Barbara County has seen a noticeable increase in e-bike use by people of all ages over the last couple years. While there are many benefits to e-bikes, studies show that a rapid increase in less experienced, higher speed bicyclists can result in more collisions with pedestrians and other road users, leading to injury and sometimes even death.
“More than a dozen organizations have come together to appeal to the community to get educated on how to stay safe while riding or interacting with an e-bike,” said Marjie Kirn, executive director of SBCAG. “We can all do our part in helping reduce the risk of accidents and injuries both now and in the future. We invite the public to join us at 5 p.m. on Jan. 19 on the State Street Promenade to celebrate e-bike safety awareness day – let’s work together to preserve the joy and sense of freedom bicycling brings to all.”
To improve public safety, the State of California has passed e-bike safety laws that regulate who and where each of the three types of e-bikes can lawfully be ridden and that riders 17 years of age and under must always wear a helmet.
“When it comes to e-biking, people commonly do not realize there are three distinct types,” said Kent Epperson, director of SBCAG Traffic Solutions. “Class 1 and 2 can be ridden by any age at a maximum speed that shuts off at 20 mph - but Class 3 offers an extra kick. It accelerates up to 28 miles per hour, however this type requires the rider wear a helmet and is only for those 17 years or older. Due to its higher speeds these bikes cannot be on bicycle paths or lanes; they should also stay off roads and multiuse trails as they're not street legal.”
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is developing statewide safety standards and training programs based on evidence-based practices for e-bike users which are scheduled to be launched next summer.
E-bikes can bring joy and a sense of freedom, but that no matter what type of bike you ride, some collisions can be avoided by practicing common sense safety including:
- Checking your battery, brakes, chain, and tire pressure before you ride;
- Wearing a helmet and visible clothing whether you are a rider or passenger;
- Watching your speed by riding slowly and respectfully on multi-use paths or where pedestrians are present;
- Riding predictably, using hand signals and keeping eye contact to communicate your movements with other vehicles;
- Avoiding texting, talking on the phone, or listening to loud music while riding; and
- Obeying traffic signs, signals, and roadway laws just as cars are required.
The public can test ride e-bikes, learn more safety tips, and enter to win an e-bike and other great prizes from 5pm to 8pm on Jan. 19 at the State Street Promenade at De La Guerra Street in downtown Santa Barbara. The event is supported by Cities of Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, and Goleta, County of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, BCycle, BikeSmiths, Cal Coast Adventures, Costco, Cycling without Age, Electric Bikes of SB, Downtown SB, Hazard's Sport, Isla Vista Bike Boutique, MOVE SB County, REI, Sage Trail Alliance, SB Cruisers, TREK, and VeloPro.
Information regarding E-Bike Awareness Day, the Safety Pledge and other e-bike safety information can be found on the Traffic Solutions website.