The cure to the E-bike pandemic


EBIKE MANIA at the Trestles WSL Finals. (The Inertia)

Kat Piantka | News Editor

January 18, 2024

The roads of San Clemente were once filled with cars and the occasional motorcycle; now they are swarming with the e-biking youths of this city. These riders treat the seemingly innocent and practical electric bikes as a weapon, constantly abusing their power and fueling Southern Orange County drivers’ hatred and frustration. 

As another year has passed, the threat of e-bikes and the heightening rate of accidents has continued to increase. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, “There were an estimated 360,800 emergency department visits related to [e-bikes] from 2017 through 2022” in the United States, and it continues to grow. 

Residents of San Clemente should welcome the new year with awareness of the threat that these classified vehicles pose to both one’s safety and the order of the road. Although most students at San Clemente are licensed drivers and have matured from the reckless driving of e-bikes, many underclassmen still rely on them as transportation. More than likely, students have witnessed the carelessness or breaking of road rules that e-bikers are infamous for. On multiple occasions in San Clemente and other cities alike, accidents have resulted in deaths and severe injuries. For drivers and residents of San Clemente to be safer, parents need to take the initiative by educating their children on the rules of the road and laws need to be implemented to restrict users. 

Failure to wear proper attire such as helmets, reflective gear, or the use of bike lights has caused the accident rate to increase. Bikes creep behind drivers or suddenly appear, leaving little to no time for drivers to react. Their inability to be recognized during the night has resulted in numerous incidents where the drivers are blamed, when in reality it’s often the biker’s error. Additionally, it is nearly impossible to hear e-bikes on the road, leaving pedestrians vulnerable to crashes; plus, the bike’s small size can put e-bikers at risk, as they are often in a driver’s blind spot. 

THREE GIRLS RECKLESSLY riding on one e-bike (Fortune-Getty Images)

Sophomore Margot Lee believed that e-bikes are “very dangerous” and a threat to the order of the road. Since becoming a licensed driver this past fall, she has only grown more aggravated by “the teens on the roads that do tricks on their e-bikes are not as cool as they think, and put their lives at risk and mine too.” Recklessly wheeling through streets can easily lead to an accident or fatality because bikers have hardly any physical protection, except for the occasionally-worn helmet. Teenagers may also be seen transporting their friends around on their bikes, exceeding the maximum weight limit.

Due to their speed, adults and operators need to consider e-bikes as on-road vehicles since they often have to operate on the road like cars, away from the comfort of a bike lane. So why don’t e-bikes have the same requirements, such as requiring a permit or license to drive so, that the rider is knowledgeable of the rules of the road? Not surprisingly, some laws have been implemented. People under 16 years of age are forbidden from driving Class 3 e-bikes, but this appears to not affect the privileged youth of San Clemente. If the new proposed Bill 530 is put into law, it would prohibit children under the age of 12 from riding all classes of e-bikes and require all operators of age who are not licensed to pass a test. This would hopefully create a new tolerable atmosphere on the road and decrease e-bike accidents. 

The practicality of an e-bike is hard to ignore for working parents, since it is an easier way for their children to travel short distances without a license. However, this allows children to develop more freedom at an early age away from the supervision of parents. Sophomore Chloe Chafin claimed that, “e-bikes give little kids too much privilege,” as they can roam freely throughout the city without any restrictions. This causes parents to be completely unaware of what their “perfect” children are up to, when in reality they are menaces to society. They abuse this freedom that has become essential for executing their troublesome plans that terrorize citizens. They vandalize houses, hit passing cars with frozen water balloons, and carelessly wheely throughout neighborhoods, unaware that at any given moment they could succumb to the chaos of traffic. These bikes have surely caused bullying to increase due to their lack of supervision. Little do many oblivious adults know that their children are becoming vigilantes with their lack of supervision and that their e-bikes are essential tools in executing their detrimental schemes. 

If action is not taken to regulate the ignorant majority of e-bike users, San Clemente will be overthrown by the ever-growing popularity of this weapon. Accidents will increase in number, kids will continue to haunt the once-peaceful neighborhoods of this city, drivers’ patience will dwindle, bullying will heighten, and chaos will reign. 

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