Are e-bikes safe? Personal injury lawyers weigh in
TORONTO -- Simon Cowell is known as the tough and sarcastic judge on “America’s Got Talent,” but he showed a soft spot for health care professionals who treated him after he was hurt while testing out an electric bike last month.
Cowell was testing a powerful trail version of an electric bike when he fell off. Cowell tweeted “I have broken part of my back" and later tweeted “A massive thank you to all the doctors and nurses.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic sales of e-bikes have doubled and they come in many different sizes and power levels. Bike Share Toronto now has pedal assist e-bikes as part of a pilot project.
Michael Longfield with Cycle Toronto said “E-bikes have been around for a while now, but especially with the pandemic people are looking for new ways to get around."
While the motorized bicycles can give riders a boost to help them while pedalling and an option to public transit, there are concerns that e-bikes could be potentially dangerous to new riders.
As more e-bikes show up on city streets more collisions are happening and since a licence and insurance is not required that's raising concerns from some personal injury lawyers.
“If you are at fault and you strike another person or cyclist you could be sued personally," Nainesh Kotak with Kotak Personal Injury Law said.
E-bikes are allowed in Ontario, but you have to be 16 years old to ride one, wear a helmet and they're not to go faster than 32 kilometers an hour.
For a beginner using an e-bike 32 kilometres an hour is pretty quick and if they get in a collision they could hurt themselves, others cyclists or pedestrians.
Kotak said there are significant safety risks to people riding e-bikes, especially new riders who don't require training after buying one.
Kotak believes the lack of insurance for e-bikes could lead to problems.
“There could really be a case where a person who is hit by an e-bike cannot be properly compensated or the person on the e-bike themselves could suffer very bad injuries and not be able to work or receive compensation for their injuries,” Kotak said.
It's not just e-bikes, e-scooters are also a concern. Earlier this month singer Rhianna was hurt when she flipped an e-scooter injuring her forehead and face.