If you’re riding an e-bike there are things you can do to prevent accidents and stay safe. In this blog post, we offer a few tips and suggestions to help keep you and everyone around you safe.
Learn the regulations
All cities are different on how they regulate e-bikes, so our first suggestion is that you take a few minutes to learn about your city’s regulations. Check out our blog post Riding your Electric Bike in North America: Laws and Regulations. We also suggest you do a quick Google search for additional municipal info.
In most areas, e-bikes are regulated in the same way as a traditional bicycle, but some States may consider them to be motorized vehicles. Either way, you will be required to follow the same rules of the road as cars. This will require a lot of maneuvering with your e-bike. Make sure that you're comfortable on your e-bike before hitting the road as you will be stopping frequently, getting on and off the bike, passing, and being passed.
Make sure you are visible
Sharing the road with cars can be scary for both drivers and bicyclists. Make it easier on everyone by making sure that you are easily visible to motorists and other cyclists. You can do this by riding in a manner that is safe or by wearing bright clothing, or both. If you have a bright electric bike, or additional lights, that might keep you extra safe.
Use hand signals
Automobile drivers and motorcycle riders have signal lights, and cyclists and e-bike riders have hand signals. Hand signals are for indicating both to drivers and each other what their intended moves are. It's best to take some time to learn these signals for your own use, and to understand what others are trying to communicate to you.
2. Right turn: Extend your left arm out from your body and point your hand upwards, in advance of your turn (not during your turn).
3. Slowing down & stopping: To indicate slowing or stopping, cyclists generally place an open hand down to the left side, with their palm facing out or pointed finger down. If you have a Rize bike with a rear brake light, there’s no need to take your hand off your grip to indicate you’re slowing or stopping!
Additional hand signals with unclear meanings
- Finger Pointed Down
A finger pointed down at the ground might be used when someone is stopping, but can also be used to point out an obstacle to fellow riders (such as a pothole), but could also be used to point out an emergency vehicle, a Speedo (or any type of bathing suit, really) or something else of interest.
- Patting the air
Horizontal downward patting of the air is a general signal for others to slow down, but it can also be used as a gesture of excitement like a Rapper would use to hype a crowd.
- Hand sweeping forward/flicked elbow
If someone is sweeping their hand forward or flicks their elbow you might be witnessing someone scooting a bug away from their proximity, or it could be a signal that you can safely pass them. It really just depends, lol.
- Flailing hands and arms
If you see a cyclist or rider flailing both arms, that’s your cue to get the heck out of the way as they might be in mid-fall. On the other hand, they might just be trying to get your attention. Either way, we suggest using caution if you ever see this hand gesture, lol.
Learning how to communicate on the road is one of the most important aspects to staying safe. So, learn some of the basic signals listed above and look out for them while riding.
In general, try to be predictable while you ride. This generally means “staying in your lane” Since e-bikes don’t usually have lanes, it is up to others to decipher where you are going. So, the best way to avoid confusion is to ride in a straight line, when it seems logical. This means don’t swerve unnecessarily (unless it’s clear) and when in a bike lane try to stay to the right. When turning or deviating from your line or movement, make sure that you use signals to indicate your intentions.
Let Others Pass
We all know how frustrating it can be to drive behind a car who won't let you pass. So, don't be that person on an e-bike. If someone wants to go faster than you, find a good time where it's safe, and allow space for people to move around you. Make sure to use the hand signals to indicate your upcoming moves.
Take care when passing
Additionally, when you are getting ready to pass another cyclist there are some precautions you need to take. First, alert them that you are there and are planning to pass, so that they can make room. Make sure you give the other cyclist plenty of space, and that you don’t cut back in front of them too soon and accidentally clip their tire or throw shade on them.
Don't wear headphones
Just like it's a bad idea for drivers to wear headphones, it's also a bad idea for cyclists. In fact, it's even more dangerous given the consequences of a possible collision. Since we can't see everything at once we rely a lot on our ears to tell us what's happening around us. While listening to music on your ride seems like a nice idea, it's more important to make sure that you're fully aware of your surroundings.
This should really be the most important rule. Always be respectful of drivers, pedestrians, other bikers, and everyone that you come across while on the road. We're all living our lives, trying to get where we need to go, and trying to do it safely. Remember we all make mistakes so be respectful of others no matter what.