E-bikes are more popular than ever — and with good reason. They're an economically sound and environmentally friendly way to get around cities big and small. It's important to remember that, while e-bikes have a great deal in common with traditional bikes, they do offer a different riding experience and present unique safety challenges. When it comes to learning how to bike in New York, here are five things to keep in mind.
Many motorists have a hard time seeing cyclists. It doesn't matter if they're pedaling a vintage Schwinn or packing a couple hundred watts of battery power; to some drivers, they're invisible.
To avoid sneaking up on a car or truck driver, especially one who is unfamiliar with e bikes in New York and not expecting to see such a swiftly moving cyclist, you need to make an audiovisual impact. Outfitting your bike with bells and lights, and outfitting yourself with brightly colored, reflective clothing, such as a vest or jacket, can boost not only your visibility but also your safety. A lime green safety vest may not be the height of fashion, but it's more stylish than a hospital gown.
With great power comes great responsibility – and heft. To decrease your chance of injury, it's imperative to remember that most women's and men's electric bikes weigh a good 20 pounds more than the typical traditional bike.
When choosing an e-bike, pick one that you can mount and dismount without trouble. E-bike frames come in a variety of sizes and shapes; choose one that works for you and exercise care to avoid a dangerous tip-over.
New York City traffic is legendary. While it's important to pay attention to traffic on any street on any type of bike, when you're riding e bike in NYC, it's crucial to tune in to other drivers.
Since e-bikes are still relatively new technology and can easily blend in with traditional bikes on the city's congested streets, much of the impetus is on you to drive defensively and consider not only how you're riding, but also how drivers — and even other bike riders — see you. Your average motorist probably isn't expecting to see a cyclist hit 25 mph. Being aware of your surroundings can prevent accidents.
Higher speeds mean less reaction time. Less reaction time means you need to slow your roll earlier on an e-bike than you would on a traditional bike. Familiarizing yourself with your brakes and their sensitivity is central to a safe ride on the streets of New York.
When you get your hands on an e-bike, the temptation to see just how fast it can go is high. We get it. The thing is, giving into this immediate need for speed puts you at a much greater risk of accident and injury. A big part of learning how to safely ride ebikes in New York is simply learning how to ride an e-bike, period.
Instead of cranking your bike up to the fastest setting on Day 1 and hitting the streets of NYC, slow down and spend the time to really learn how to use your bike. Even the best electric bike in the world has a learning curve. Making the effort to understand your new ride's ins and outs may mean a few more days of commuting on the train or catching the bus, but it'll be worth it in the end as your odds of doing expensive damage to both your bike and yourself shrink.
E-bikes are the future of commuting, not just in New York City but in cities and towns around the globe. Remember these five tips to keep yourself safe and get the most out of your ride.
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