Focus on safety as e-bike sales hike expected during holidays

Several organizations hope to educate drivers about bike helmets and road safety rules


(WWAY) — Records show nearly half a million electric bikes were sold in 2021, and new data shows sales are speeding up this year in advance of holiday gift-giving.

Some Cape Fear-area organizations hope to ‘pedal’ safety tips for new bike owners.

Carol Stein, Chair of the Bike and Pedestrian Committee of the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO), and Kitty Cole, Safety Education Chair for the Cape Fear Cyclists and Terry Benjey Bicycle Foundation want to educate drivers and pedestrians about sharing the roadways with cyclists and e-bike riders.

Above all they both stress one key safety issue: helmets for all bike riders, whether pedal-powered or electric.

“In 2001, the Bicycle Safety Act was passed into law,” Stein explained. “And it basically requires anybody that operates a bicycle under the age of 16, they must wear a helmet.”

She says safety experts actually recommend all riders wear a helmet, regardless of age.

And when it comes to sharing the road with a bicycle, drivers need to remember that bikes are considered vehicles, whether they’re motorized or not.

“You’ve got to follow the rules of the road,” Cole said. “So, speed limits apply to e-bikes.” She also recommends that if an e-bike is on your gift list this year, give a helmet alongside it.

According to Stein, cyclists must ride on the right side of the road as safely as possible and must be aware of any potential hazards along the roadway. Most trails also advise cyclists to stay on the right-hand side.

Cole offers these other safety measures for cyclists:

  • Obey all “rules of the road”, including stop signs/yield signs/traffic lights
  • Use hand signals before making turns
  • Wear bright colored clothing, especially at night, including reflective gear
  • Trail etiquette recommends riding with similar speeds as other cyclists, and announce plans to pass
  • Have a light on your bicycle, and turn it on (by law) between dusk and dawn
  • Avoid parked car door zones by at least 5 feet
  • Cross railroad tracks at a 90-degree angle
  • Look back before c hanging positions laterally on the road

North Carolina is rated #18 on the list of bike-friendly states, with the League of American Bicyclists awarding our area a bronze designation.  Wilmington’s Bike Advisory Council’s goal is to improve that rating to silver.

Stein says the WMPO has more than 900 projects in the books for more bike paths, bike lanes and pedestrian crosswalks.

To learn more about the WMPO projects, visit here .

For more information about bike safety in North Carolina, visit here .


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