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Guest Letter

E-bikes: a simple guide to safety

By Guisou Mahmoud, MD, FACEP

Guest Letter E bikes Mahmoud

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Courtesy of Providence Mission Hospital

 Guisou Mahmoud, MD, FACEP

Electric bikes are becoming increasingly popular for both pleasure and commuting, especially in Orange County where the weather is great 12 months out of the year. It’s not out of the ordinary to see families and groups of friends biking along the Laguna Beach coast or riding toward Main Beach.

But did you know that e-bike traffic accidents are on the rise? Because e-bikes allow cyclists to ride at speeds of more than 20 miles an hour, the risk of concussions and internal injuries are also more serious, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). 

That’s why it’s important that Laguna Beach residents put their safety first. Here are some tips:

 Know the Rules:

To ride an e-bike in Orange County, you must:

–Be at least 16 years old

–ALWAYS wear a helmet

Safety Tips:

Riding an e-bike is just like riding a standard bicycle but with more risk (because of the speeds it can reach), so before you ride, remember to:

1. ALWAYS wear a helmet. No exceptions.

2. Make sure your bike has front and rear lights, as well as reflective stickers.

3. Wear bright, reflective clothing.

4. Install a horn or bell so that cars can hear and see you coming. Bicyclists can be easily lost in a motorist’s blind spot.

5. Find safe routes – preferably less traveled roads and pathways that allow electric bikes.

6. Ride defensively and remember, cars make mistakes – they don’t always use their turn signals, so be alert, cautious and prepare for the worst.

7. Beware of parked cars. Someone could open their car door as you pass or pull out of their parking spot without looking.

8. Look out for other bicyclists. They don’t always have lights on their bikes. And, it can be hard to see them at night.

9. Slow down and let pedestrians know you’re coming by shouting, “On your right,” beep your horn or ring your bell.

10. Keep in mind your bike wheels are not prepared for potholes or cracks, so slow down and avoid them.

 Tips for new e-bike riders:

It will take time for even experienced cyclers to get comfortable using an e-bike. It’s important that they take the time to become comfortable on the bike before riding it around town. And for those who are new to biking, make sure to know the rules of the road and how to use hand signals.

 Biking is great for your physical and mental well-being. I highly recommend it for people of all ages looking for some exercise and fun. So, grab a friend, your helmet and give it a try. Just remember to stay safe and when in doubt, slow down.

Guisou Mahmoud, MD, FACEP, Medical Director for the Sue and Bill Gross Emergency Department at Providence Mission Hospital Laguna Beach