Whether you use your electric bike for your main source of transportation or for leisure, it can be an enjoyable and effective way of getting around. However, while no official statistics regarding accidents involving electric bikes are kept in Ontario, it has been established that collisions especially with vehicles are on the rise.
When riding your electric bike, you obviously want to do whatever possible to keep yourself safe from serious injury or death. Below are 4 safety tips, in addition to wearing a helmet (which is the law). These tips will help you get to wherever you need to be when riding your electric bike, yet still keep yourself safe at the same time.
1. Use your lights
When riding your electric bike, you want to make sure all other vehicles see you. Most collisions involving electric bikes are due to vehicles not seeing them after dark and therefore you want to do everything you can to be noticed. Your electric bicycle should have a headlight to ensure oncoming traffic can see you and you can illuminate what is front of you to avoid collisions.
To guarantee vehicles behind you can see you, your electric bike should have a reflector at the very least at the back above the rear tire. To make certain that you are seen, flashing red LED lights will definitely get the attention of drivers behind you and decrease the chances of you being involved in an accident.
2. Go with traffic
Some cyclists think it is best to ride against traffic, so you can see what is coming at you and drivers will be able to see you better. However, the truth is you are more likely to be hit from the front than rear-ended from the back. Riding against traffic is especially dangerous on a one-way street because you are putting yourself in danger of getting hit by a car pulling onto the street who is not expecting anyone to come from the other way. To avoid a collision, go with traffic.
Your bike may be able to go the speed of posted limits however to avoid any issues with motorists who wish to go faster, consider riding on the shoulder and use bicycle lanes if available. This allows you to be even safer by allowing more space between you and vehicles coming from behind you.
3. Obey traffic signs & lights
Obeying posted traffic signs and lights seems like a given but motorists do not do this with consistency and as a result other people on the road, like you, are put at significant risk. Doing so when you are riding your electric bike will not only put you in accordance with traffic laws, it will allow you to avoid accidents with vehicles coming from other directions. Remember, unlike vehicles, there is nothing surrounding you on an electric bike that can offer any type of protection from the impact of a collision.
Even if you think it may be safe to cross after stopping at a stop sign or despite the light being red, you need to be sure about your actions as vehicles can seemingly come out of nowhere and will cause serious injury or worse if they collide with you.
4. Be seen
Half the battle in avoiding collisions with vehicles while riding your electric bike is being seen by others. If you are about to cross at a traffic light or stop sign, make eye contact with motorists you are crossing in front of to make sure they see you. As mentioned previously, lights on the front and back of your bike will allow vehicles approaching in both directions to see you and distance themselves from you. Wearing reflective clothing if you will be riding your bike after dark will also increase the chances of you being seen.