Bicycle and E-Bike Safety
Bicycle and E-Bike Safety & Rental Liability
Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are host to many beautiful and historic areas to ride a bicycle but bicycle and E-bike safety must take a front seat. More and more people of all ages are hopping on bikes for transportation, leisure or exercise. Bicycle rentals have been available around the Cape and Island’s for decades, but things have recently picked up speed with the introduction of more e-bikes. Shops in Provincetown, Hyannis, Yarmouth, the Vineyard and many other towns in our region are offering bike rentals to tourists and locals alike. While these may be a terrific way to get around and see the sights or to get to and from meetings on a business trip, the influx could inevitably lead to more auto-bicycle accidents. Any type of bike crash can lead to catastrophic personal injury and all too often, accidental death.
What is an E-Bike?
The term “e-bike” or “pedelec” refers to a battery-powered, pedal-assisted bicycle. The pedal- assist electric drive system is limited to a decent but not excessive top speed around 18 mph. Pedelecs are legally classed as bicycles rather than low-powered motorcycles or mopeds.
These electric bikes have become popular in tourist-friendly areas such as P-town due to the fact that the average rider can travel around further and enjoy the sights, rather than pedal around in the heat. This may also attract some folks who are not as comfortable riding a bicycle in areas where other traffic is present.
Insurance and Liability
Generally, when renting a bicycle/e-bike or borrowing through a hotel lending benefit, the “rider” will need to sign an agreement with the “operator”. These agreements remove the liability from the operator (i.e. bike rental company, hotel or other establishments) for everything from personal injury to property damage caused by the rider. The operator’s insurance will generally only cover any damages or injury caused by faulty or malfunctioning equipment.
Of course, if a rider is struck by a vehicle such as a distracted driver, the factors around the accident claim will likely put the liability on the driver as in any other auto-bicycle accident.
Tips for Bicyclists to Avoid Auto-Bicycle Accidents
Whether you’re having a leisurely ride on the Shining Sea Bike Path from North Falmouth village to Woods Hole or rolling through a popular street like Commercial St. in P-Town, practicing cyclist safety is important. Here are some simple tips to stay safe:
- Protect your head, wear a helmet and bright, reflective clothing
- Ride defensively, assume everyone is a distracted driver
- Ride with the direction of traffic, and use bike lanes when available
- Never over-trust a bike lane. Drivers often break these lanes
- Stop at red lights, stop signs, railroads and adhere to crosswalk rules
- Here’s the Massachusetts Law regarding motorized bicycles