The Ultimate E-Bike Etiquette Guide
If you're an avid bicyclist, you're probably familiar with biking etiquette's do's and don'ts, such as making sure to move over to allow cars to pass when you're riding side-by-side on the road.
However, if you've switched from bike to e-bike, some new rules exist.
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E-bikes have become increasingly popular in recent years; they are excellent for exercise, safe, eco-friendly, multifunctional, and may save people money.
But they haven't yet been fully integrated into society regarding how people treat them—especially since they can travel at such high speeds.
While it's generally accepted that electric bicycles are allowed on streets and bike lanes, there are still a lot of unwritten rules surrounding their use and ownership that we should all be aware of.
If you want to learn more about e-bike etiquette, keep reading!
1. Check the E-Bike Laws
It is important to know the laws of your state before riding an e-bike on the road. Some states require a motorized bicycle license, registration, or helmet for e-bikes. Other states have no restrictions at all.
You'll want to check the local laws to see how it is treated in your area. For example, is it considered a bicycle or vehicle?
Are there any restrictions around where you can ride? Laws differ by location, so this is something you want to check before hitting the road.
Electric bikes, for example, are sometimes classified as motor vehicles that cannot be ridden on sidewalks in some states. In other regions, people are encouraged to ride on the sidewalks.
These discrepancies demonstrate why you should always check and observe local laws before riding.
2. Use Hand Signals
A cyclist must always use hand signals when they're turning, stopping, or slowing down. For example, cyclists should put their left arm straight out to the side when they turn right.
To turn left, they should put their right arm straight out to the side. A cyclist should drop both arms by their sides when going straight.
He should also signal when they're about to stop or slow down by raising their left arm in the air with his palm facing back.
If riders want to speed up, they should raise their right arm in the air with their palm facing forward.
3. Make Use of the Bells
Just like a vehicle or truck might use a horn, understanding e-bike etiquette at the right time to use your bells while riding is beneficial.
Bells assist electric bike riders in properly communicating with pedestrians, riders, and other drivers around them to keep everyone safe.
When going through busy places or challenging traffic conditions, it is important to ring the bike's bells to warn pedestrians, cyclists, or drivers of your presence.
When turning at an intersection, let any oncoming traffic know that you are turning by ringing the bell first. In general, try not to ring your bell unless there is a danger of collision with another rider or pedestrian.
4. Ride With Both Hands
It might seem obvious, but riding with both hands on the handlebars is important. It might not seem to be as dangerous as texting, but an accident could happen if you're not holding on for dear life.
Not only that, it makes you look like a novice or don't know what you are doing. One hand should always be on the front brake lever to keep things in check.
Also, riding uphill with both hands gives you more balance over your weight from one side to the other (similar to how you would walk upstairs).
It gives you more traction and less strain on your brakes. If you see an obstacle ahead, stop pedaling so that there is less chance of flipping over when you go over it.
5. Keep Speed to a Minimal
One of the crucial things to remember is to keep your speed minimal, especially if you are in an area with lots of pedestrians.
Especially in the city, you have to be mindful of how fast you’re going and try not to speed through crosswalks or bike lanes.
Be careful when turning, too; this is where accidents usually happen because there are so many variables to consider. To help avoid these kinds of accidents, go slowly and stay away from other bikes.
If you doubt it's safe to proceed through an intersection without stopping first, then stop! For intersections without traffic lights, just come to a full stop at the curb before crossing over into oncoming traffic.
6. Yield Before Turning or Switching Lanes
As an e-bike rider, you have the same rights and responsibilities as any other vehicle on the road. That includes yielding to others before turning or switching lanes. Be especially mindful of cars making a right turn at intersections.
Always obey traffic signals and signs. Be alert for pedestrians crossing in front of you; it's illegal to ride your e-bike in bike lanes.
So if there are no sidewalks available, try to ride slower than a pedestrian would walk so that you don't startle them with your passing.
It is also important not to share your designated lane with parked cars. For example, if there is only one lane marked for bikes, then stay to the far left side.
When stopping at stop lights, make sure you give yourself enough room between yourself and parked vehicles to avoid getting doored by someone exiting their car without looking first.
7. Be Respectful to Others Using the Road
Give other riders the right of way. For example, when you're coming up from behind someone, make sure other riders see you coming. It's also important to be courteous about where you are in relation to the people around you.
If someone is riding next to a pole, stay on their opposite side so they can pass without getting out into traffic. Also, remember to alternate who leads if you're riding two abreast with another rider. It would create an uneven burden for both.
Make sure there are at least three feet between you and cars when you ride your e-bike on the road. In addition, never pass in front of a car; always stay behind the driver's side door. Be courteous and make sure drivers see you before pulling out into traffic too.
Always use hand signals when turning so that others know what you intend to do.
Finally, respect intersections by not crossing an intersection while the light is red; if there's no crosswalk, stop at the curb before the intersection and wait for cars to clear before proceeding.
8. Don't Wear Headphones
When you're riding an electric bike, it's important to be aware of your surroundings. Unfortunately, wearing headphones can distract you from traffic, pedestrians, and other bikers.
If you need to take a phone call or have a conversation with someone while riding your e-bike, try using a Bluetooth headset or an earbud so you can still hear what is happening around you.
Headphones while riding have led to all sorts of accidents on the road that could have been prevented.
Instead of using headphones, earbuds are better than headphones because they let in background noises while you're riding.
This makes you aware of your evironment so you can react accordingly. For example, if a car is honking its horn or someone is yelling, you must be aware of their presence.
9. Don't Leave Your Bike in the Middle of the Street
If you're leaving your e-bike somewhere for any length, find an appropriate place for it, like on the sidewalk. Leaving your bike right across the street can block pedestrian traffic.
Plus, parking properly helps protect your investment from theft or damage. When you park your bike, leave enough space so that motorists won't hit it when they pull out of their space.
If there isn't enough space, leave a note that says "Back Soon" with the date and time so that other cyclists know when they can take over the spot again.
10. Use Light During the Night
Always wear bright clothing at night. This can be very helpful when riding on the street at night. Also, keep your headlight high enough so that it will not blind oncoming traffic, as they may not see you coming.
Flash your light at them to let them know you are there before they turn onto the street where you are cycling. If you ride your e-bike at night, always be aware of your surroundings.
Make sure to use a flashing red rear light and make a sound by ringing your bell or blowing a whistle.
Always carry an emergency contact card with information about yourself, including allergies, medications, emergency contact numbers and any medical conditions in case of an accident.
11. Riding in The Flow of Traffic
When riding an e-bike, it is crucial to stay in the flow of traffic. This will make you more visible to motorists and pedestrians and allow other cyclists to gauge your speed better.
It also helps keep you safe if a car makes a sudden stop or turns right in front of you. Cyclists are advised not to ride no more than two abreast on roads that are not wide enough for three riders (e.g., single-lane roads).
In addition, riders should be sure not to crowd the sidewalk, especially when cars are parked alongside or when sidewalks are narrow or crowded with pedestrians who have difficulty getting around bikes while they walk.
Riding your e-bike on the sidewalk is not only illegal for bicyclists in many areas but also dangerous because pedestrians may not be expecting you to come around a corner so quickly.
12. Always Wear a Helmet and Other Protective Clothing
Helmets help protect your head from injury should you fall or crash.
However, they don't just protect your head; they also protect the back of your neck, face, and the front of your skull.
Additionally, wearing protective clothing is a must. Wear long pants that cover the knees when you ride in wet weather or to prevent road rash. Avoid clothes with holes and exposed skin. Always carry water on rides to stay hydrated during longer rides.
13. Don’t Assume That Others Can See You
Assume that drivers can't see you. While the law says that people on bicycles are supposed to be treated as vehicles, it doesn't mean that drivers will always give you their full attention.
Make sure you have a bell or horn on your bike in case they don't notice you coming up behind them (it's also a good idea to wear bright colors). Be very careful at intersections and when turning left where there are no stop lights.
When turning left, make eye contact with drivers before crossing over; use hand signals to indicate whether you're going straight or turning.
14. Always Ride Furthest to Your Right
The lane on the right is better for slower traffic, while the lane on the left is best for passing. Because your e-bike cannot reach the speeds of a car, ensure you stay in the correct lane throughout your journey.
You should only use the left lane while making a left turn or passing someone. This can help you avoid hitting a pedestrian or any coming car.
Whether you're an e-bike owner or not, it's always a good idea to know its laws. Knowing the right way to behave around electric bikes will help keep everyone safe on the road.
For example, never go faster than 15mph when passing e-bikes as they may be going slower due to weight. If you need to pass them, give them at least 3 feet of space by slowing down or getting off your bike.
Be respectful to other riders by giving them some space, even if you are biking alongside each other. There should always be plenty of room for pedestrians to walk between the rider and their battery pack.
These E-bike etiquettes can help keep people safe on bike trails and minimize accidents.