Should You Buy Your Child An Ebike?

Should You Buy Your Child an Electric Bike? With the Spring around the corner, many parents, family or friends are considering buying an electric bike (ebike) for their favorite child, or maybe they got one for Christmas. If you search the internet for advice on whether an ebike is safe for your children, you'll see that there aren't a lot of concrete studies on the topic. Before doing so, the pros and cons of an ebike (versus traditional bikes) should be considered:

1. Ebikes are easier to ride, especially uphill, therefore your child gets exercise, vitamin D from the sun and develops confidence.
2. People riding ebikes tend to bike further distances due to ease of use, and therefore get more exercise as long as the bike is equipped with pedal assist.
3. Ebikes allow children to keep up with their parents on bike rides, which means better bonding and a more enjoyable family experience. When my children were young, they did not have the best experiences biking with me because hills were so difficult.
1. Safety. A lot depends on your child's physical abilities and their ability to focus on everything around them. You can travel at faster speeds on ebikes, but this results in longer braking times. Some children are less coordinated than others and may have trouble riding at higher speeds.
2. Safety. Faster speeds and longer braking times may result in more injuries. Injuries at faster speeds may result in internal injuries, similar to those seen in motorcycle accidents.
3. Safety for others. Traveling at faster speeds may result in your child hitting others on the sidewalk, street or bike paths. Guess who is liable for any injury to another person caused by your child?
4. Cost. Ebikes are going to be more expensive and may be more costly if mechanical/electrical problems occur. Theft is going to be an issue.
5. Lack of exercise: If your child relies on throttle (where pedaling is not required) all of the time, they will not receive the physical exercise benefits. If the bike is equipped with throttle vs pedal assist (which will give some assist while pedaling), which do you thing most children would choose?
6. Ebikes require frequent charging.
6. Because ebikes are heavier, they may be more difficult to control and transport
Some suggestions:
Research safety concerns, consider if your child would have the coordination to control an ebike, especially at higher speeds.
Talk to the experts at bike shops. Learn about all of the features on an ebike and what would be safest for your child.
Make sure the bike is properly fitted for your child's size.
Use safety precautions, WEAR A PROPERLY FITTING HELMET AT ALL TIMES. Buy a loud bell and use it when near pedestrians, other bikers and cars
Educate your child on safety precautions when biking. NEVER PASS SOMEONE WITHOUT SLOWING DOWN AND GIVING NOTICE! Teach your child that others often can't hear bikers approaching and may not see your child when they are biking.
Supervise your child, be aware of how fast the max speed is and observe if your child can handle these speeds. Go on frequent bike rides so you can determine how good their riding, maturity and judgement are. The max speed of an ebike can vary greatly, from 5 mph to over 20mph. Most authorities recommend children travel under 10 mph on an ebike. Consider your child’s abilities and maturity when making a purchase.
Learn what your state/local government laws say about biking and use of ebikes. In Ohio, Class 1 and 2 ebikes reach a max speed of 20mph and are allowed anywhere traditional bikes or pedestrians are allowed. There is no age limits for these bikes. Class 3 bikes have a max speed of 28mph and riders must be over 16 years old to operate them. Be sure to know what your local laws say about biking.

The decision to have your child ride an ebike or traditional bike is yours. The most important issue is safety for your child and others who may be affected by your child's bike riding abilities. I must also say that it would be great to see more children biking rather than playing video games when the weather gets nice this Spring!

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 8:59 AM, 03.01.2024