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It's time to ban unregulated electric bikes - for the safety of us all, writes Johnny Jenkins
24 October 2023, 08:03
Every time I hear the whirr of an electric bike behind me, I expect the worst. I'll be shoved onto the road, and my bike will be stolen. Soon I'll be standing on the pavement watching my beloved bike taken into the distance, never to be seen again.
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This happened to me last year when I was riding to the office early in the morning. Minutes later, I'm stranded at the side of the road as two yobs ride off on their electric bikes.
Not only am I on the lookout for thieves as I cycle now, but I'm also trying to dodge incompetent riders living in another world - they're taking calls, listening to music or even watching TikTok.
Electric bike users aren't just distracted, they're bad cyclists. Red light? They'll ride through it. Slow rider in front? They'll undertake. Pedestrian crossing the road? They'll swerve and hope for the best. I see these incidents as I ride to work every day. It doesn't have to be this way.
I'm most concerned about unregulated electric bikes - the modified bikes invariably transporting a delivery rider or couriers. The engine allows them to go much faster than the legal limits and some bikes don't even require the rider to pedal! Plus they carry a pretty horrifying fire risk.
Hire e-bike schemes are widespread in our cities. These are regulated and monitored by the managing company. They can't go as fast, don't use as much power and are less likely to light up in flames.
The roads across our cities are full of these quasi-motorbikes, mainly delivering takeaways through large companies. These firms should have a responsibility to ensure their staff ride safely, but the bosses really don't care. They deliver orders quicker than cars and you don't have to register the vehicle or pay any taxes.
These bikes are so dangerous that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has advised normal cyclists to be aware of electric bikes on the road, encouraging us to take extra care turning corners and watch the speed of other riders. But why should I change how I ride? The dangerous e-bike riders should be removed from the equation.
Cycling should be a pleasurable activity, used to improve your health and travel quickly and safely. At the moment in our cities, it can be a pretty scary experience. Bike theft and bad drivers are difficult to tackle, but we can do something about bad cycling.
We need to recognise how many accidents are caused by unregulated e-bike users, who have never had any training in how to cycle properly.
Let's introduce tougher legislation to protect all road users and encourage all cyclists to be more considerate.
It's time to rid our roads of this careless cult of dangerous e-bike riders, giving us all a bad name.