In 2020, we have more ways to get around than ever before. Following the popularity of electric scooters like Lime and Bird, one of the newest trends is electric bikes or e-bikes. These bikes often look and handle like regular bicycles, but they contain an integrated electric motor that can be used to propel the bike. Unlike motorcycles or mopeds, however, cyclists retain the ability to pedal the bike.
In 2017, more than 34 million e-bikes were sold around the world. While the majority of these bikes were sold in Europe and China, an increasing number of electric bikes have been sold in the United States. Companies like Uber are getting in on the trend with the purchase of Jump Bikes.
While e-bikes may be the future of transportation, there are still significant safety issues for those who ride them. These bikes are capable of speeds of up to 25 or 30 miles per hour (mph). This makes them potentially dangerous, particularly in the hands of inexperienced riders.
According to one study, just 6% of bicycle accidents sent the rider to the intensive care unit (ICU). In contrast, 20% of e-bike crashes landed the rider in the ICU. These results highlight the risks involved in riding an e-bike.
If you are considering purchasing an electric bicycle — or if you already have one — you should familiarize yourself with Florida law on the use and operation of these bikes. If you are involved in a crash, an experienced Miami bike accident attorney can work with you to help you recover for your losses.
Florida Laws on Electric Bikes
In the state of Florida, e-bikes are classified as bicycles as long as the bike is capable of being propelled by human power, and its speed does not exceed 20 mph. You do not need a license to operate an e-bike, but riders must be over the age of 16. You also do not have to register your e-bike or get a license for it as long as its top speed is 20 mph or less.
Significantly, Florida law does not require you to have insurance for your e-bike — just as you do not have to purchase insurance for a bicycle. However, it may still be a good idea to buy this type of insurance if you have an electric bicycle for a number of reasons.
First, an e-bike is an investment. While most models cost $1,000 to $3,000, some are priced at $8,000 or more. An insurance policy can help you pay for damages to the bike, and may cover the cost of a new bike if yours is lost or stolen.
Second, because the risk of serious injury is higher on an e-bike than on a conventional bicycle, liability coverage is a good idea. This type of insurance will cover the costs of injuries and/or property damage to another person if you cause an accident. If you are hurt in an e-bike accident, the insurance policy of the other party may cover your damages.
If you do own an e-bike or are considering purchasing one, you should talk to your insurance agent about the possibility of obtaining insurance for it. Even though it is not required under Florida law, it may be worth the cost to have peace of mind.
How to Safely Ride an E-bike
Most e-bike crashes are caused by either negligence or recklessness. If you have an e-bike, you should be aware of the heightened risks associated with riding it. For example, if you strike a pedestrian while riding an e-bike, the possibility of both of you being seriously hurt is much greater given the e-bike’s comparatively high rate of speed.
A person who crashes their e-bike or is hit by another cyclist or driver may suffer any number of injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Head trauma, such as a concussion or traumatic brain injury
- Abrasions, lacerations and/or contusions
- Internal bleeding
- Spinal cord injury or paralysis
To reduce the risk of an injury while riding your e-bike, you should take a number of precautions. First, before you get on an e-bike, make sure that you are properly trained on its use. While they make look like regular bikes, there are significant differences — and you’ll need to learn about those differences to safely ride an e-bike.
Second, always wear a helmet when riding an e-bike, even though you are not required to do so. A helmet can save your life in an accident, particularly when you are traveling at a higher rate of speed than you would on a bicycle.
Third, follow basic safety rules, such as riding with traffic, using the bicycle lane when available, and using your lights at night. You should always be alert when riding your e-bike and watch out for reckless drivers. Note that e-bikes have been banned in some Florida cities, like Fort Myers.
Fourth, make sure that your e-bike is in good condition before heading out on it. Make sure that the tires are properly inflated and that other components are in working order.
By following these steps, you can reduce the risk of being in an accident on your e-bike. If you are in an accident while on your e-bike, a Miami bike accident attorney can help you recover the damages that you
Reach Out Today to Schedule a Risk-Free Consultation
Electric bicycles are a fun way to get around, but they present unique dangers because they can go much faster than traditional bikes. Following Florida law regarding bike safety is a good way to reduce the likelihood of being in an accident. If you are involved in a crash, contact a Miami bike accident attorney for help.
At Kaire & Heffernan, we strongly believe that victims of others’ negligence deserve fair compensation for their injuries. We will fight for you, and stand by your side throughout the legal process. Contact us today at 305-372-0123 or email us to schedule a free initial consultation.