Electric bicycles are changing the way we get around. While many e-bike riders enjoy the electric boost of pedal assistance on mountain trails and long tours, many more cyclists appreciate an e-bike’s benefits as they navigate dense cities where driving can be a challenge or liability. Reconciling city traffic with the punch an e-bike packs calls for some specific guidelines, which we have compiled in these top tips for safely riding an e-bike in the city.
Keep Your Tires Inflated
E-bikes take over a lot of bicycling’s biggest responsibility—namely, the relentless pedaling. It’s a welcome respite on those steep hills and races against time, but there are still plenty of responsibilities to consider. Don’t forget to keep your tires well-inflated and replace tires that have gone bald. When you’re enjoying the added boost that an e-bike lends to your pedaling, you want to keep maximum traction on your treads while keeping the quickness that comes with properly inflated tires.
Wear a Helmet
You may be surprised to learn that helmet use for both manual and electric bicycles isn’t mandatory in many states and Canadian provinces. Without this legislation, many riders are content to let their hair flow free. Whether you think it looks good or not, riding at the elevated speeds that an e-bike offers means that wearing a helmet is a smart move to protect your head—even without helmet laws on the books.
Observe Speed Limits
Just because you’re not operating a vehicle with a combustion engine doesn’t mean the laws don’t apply to you. E-bikes, depending on classification, can attain speeds in excess of 20 or even 28 mph. On narrow, winding, or busy city streets, an e-bike can exceed posted speed limits of 20 mph or below, and while the cops may not have the radar guns out for e-bikes, reaching maximum speed in these environments can be hazardous to you and to pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists nearby.
Be Aware of Drivers
Perhaps most important of our top tips for safely riding an e-bike in the city is to stay as alert as possible regarding the people with whom you share the road. Never assume that car and truck drivers, who are often annoyed with cyclists on city streets, have your best interests in mind. Be a defensive rider, so to speak, and assert yourself amid the motor vehicles on the road. Riding passively is all but an invitation to injures and accidents.