Ebike Vancouver

Electric Bikes in Vancouver: Are they Safe?

Riding electric bikes in Vancouver is one of the greatest ways to experience both the urban areas and natural wonders of this region. However, are they as safe as they are fun and convenient? Overall, yes, ebikes are safe and do not put riders at any greater risk than other modes of transportation when you observe safety rules. 

Choosing the right bike for your ability, maintaining your bike, following the rules of the road and wearing proper safety gear go a long way to minimizing your risk of injury. Here we will look at top safety tips for electric bikes. 

Wear a Helmet

If you take only one bike safety precaution to heart, it should be the importance of wearing a helmet. According to a study from Public Health Ontario, wearing a bike helmet can reduce your risk of a head or brain injury by as much as 88%. 

Helmets are so important to bike safety that they are legally required for riders under the age of 18 in Canada. While adults are not legally required to wear them, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation “strongly recommends” them for all riders. 

Knee and elbow pads are not a legal requirement for any rider, but they can also greatly reduce the severity of certain injuries. While a helmet remains your most important piece of safety gear, consider these pads especially if you are wearing shorts and/or a sleeveless shirt while riding. 

Be Visible

Night riding offers an additional layer of safety concern. To mitigate this potential for increased risk, it is imperative that you have working lights and reflectors on your bike. You should have both a head and tailight secured to your handlebars and seat. Models like the SERFAS USL5 & USL5R offer several modes including high beam, low beam and flashing.

In addition to proper lights, you should also consider your night riding apparel choices. If possible, light colored clothing should be worn at night to give you the best chance of being visible to other drivers. 

Don’t Neglect Your Bike or Your Gear 

Caring for your safety gear and your bike is a crucial component of how to ride ebikes safely.  Something as small as an under inflated tire can greatly compromise your control over your bike. Here we’ll look at some of the most important ways you can care for your bike: 

  • Proper Tire Inflation: Each tire has its own ideal inflation level and there is good reason for this. When your tires are over inflated, this decreases contact with the road which can result in poor grip and balance. It will also make you more likely to have a blow out. In contrast, under inflated tires will have contact with the road but will slow you down. This can be especially dangerous on a busy, fast moving road. For proper tire inflation, always consult your bike’s owner’s manual.
  • Inspect Your Bike Regularly: Various parts of your bike such as the bike chain and brake pads should, ideally, be inspected before each ride. A worn down brake pad or a chain clogged with grime can cause serious problems on the road. For brake pads, make sure they are a minimum of 1.5 mm thick and listen for any noises while you ride. If you hear any kind of noises while riding, the brakes are likely the cause and should be addressed before you take another ride. 
  • Inspect Your Safety Gear: A proper bike helmet made of approved materials is built to take on great impacts. However, any kind of crack of weakness in the outer shell will compromise the integrity of its structure. Similarly, inspect the inner padding and chin strap to ensure they do not have excessive signs of wear. If the internal padding has worn down this means you have less protection and a looser fit. A chin strap that is even slightly frayed should be replaced as you do not want that small tear to turn into a large one while you’re on the road. 

Follow the Rules of the Road

Both traditional and electric bikes in Vancouver are not allowed on the sidewalk. While pedestrian safety is a concern, it is also safer for bike riders to stay on roads because there are less obstacles to navigate. In addition to staying off the sidewalk, follow these safety tips for electric bikes on the road: 

  • Choose Your Lane Position: If you can keep up with traffic, riding in the center of the lane is best. If you are going slower, stay to the far right of a lane as long as the lane is wide enough for another vehicle to pass you.  Choose the center if there is not enough room for another vehicle to safely ride along beside you. 
  • Pull Off the Road When Needed: If you are on a 2-lane road and have 5 or more vehicles lining up behind you, you should make a plan to turn off the road as soon as it is safe. 
  • Walk Your Bike at Intersections: This is not a legal requirement, but walking your bike across an intersection can give you more control over the situation especially at busy crosswalks where many people are crossing at the same time. 

Are Ebikes Safe for Children?

This is a bit of a trick question. Ebikes may be rideable for some children, but it is not legal in Canada. In order to operate an ebike in Canada, you must be at least 16 years old. 

Are Ebikes Safe for Seniors? 

Ebikes are often recommended for older persons who have mobility issues and other physical conditions because the pedal assist makes it possible for them to bike more comfortably with less effort.  When you choose an easy bike path and the right model of bike, seniors can safely ride electric bikes. In Vancouver, there are many bike friendly paths for seniors so this is less of a concern. 

However, when choosing a bike model, seniors are often best served by bikes that include a step-through or low step frame, like the Magnum Premium II Low Step Black which also includes a gel seat for maximum comfort. This is because many injuries on ebikes are not from crashes, but from falling when mounting or dismounting the bike. With traditional high step frames, there is a high bar to step over and this can be difficult for many people to clear their leg over. 

Note: It is important to note that the low step frame will tend to be heavier than the high step. Because there is no stabilizing bar in the center, the frame requires extra bulk to provide strength. If you are concerned with maximum speed and portability, the low step might not be ideal. 

Final Thoughts on the Safety of Electric Bikes in Vancouver 

Bikes, like any mode of transportation, are not without some risk. It is important to remember that an electric bike can go as fast as a car and you should take proper safety precautions each and every time you ride. However, when you wear proper gear and follow important safety tips for electric bikes, you greatly reduce your chances of serious injury. 

Have more questions about safe riding for electric bikes? In Vancouver, cyclists can visit our Epic Cycles dealers. At Epic Cycle, we love riding bikes and our knowledgeable team can help guide you to the bike that will give you the best and safest experience. 

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