New Electric Citi Bikes in New York City: What Are the Dangers?

n late August, electric bicycles became available in New York City through Citi Bikes, the popular exchange where people with a membership can rent bicycles.

The electric bicycles will be available at the same Citi Bike docking stations where regular (i.e., foot-powered only) Citi Bikes are available.

The electric bikes are referred to as “pedal assist” bikes, because they use a pedal assist motor around the front wheel, which give the bikes an electric boost. Riders press a power button on the battery when the bike is stationary, and then begin to pedal when the lights are on.

The bikes can go faster than regular bikes. The speed for electric bikes can be as fast as 18 mph, compared with 11-12 mph with regular bikes. (Of course, the speed might be less depending on traffic.) The faster speeds can be very convenient for riders who are commuting to work — or just want to get where they are going faster than they can with a regular bike!

Are Electric Bikes More Risky?

Electric bike riders should, of course, be mindful of safety. Increased speeds could put bicyclists at increased risk of accidents, for several reasons.

First, stopping takes longer when any vehicle is going faster, bikes included. Bike riders need to factor in how long they need to stop with the new, faster bikes. In fact, it’s a good idea to practice in a place with low traffic density first, to get used to the new speeds.

Second, both motorists and pedestrians likely calculate their own actions with the speed of a regular bicycle in mind. Their decisions to pull out in front of you, turn, and stop are likely all based on those speeds, so bicyclists should keep those in mind as well.

Third, any accident you have may be more severe if you are going faster. If you run into an object at a greater velocity or are going with greater velocity and fall off, the impact of the accident may be greater. This is also true if an object, other vehicle, or person hits you when you are going at a greater speed.

All of these reasons are added to the already-existing need of all bicyclists to ride safely.

Rules for Riding Safely

Citi Bike reiterates these rules for riding safely on its electric bike website:

  1. Always wear a helmet
  2. Brake gradually in the electric bikes, with both hands.
  3. Be very cautious in traffic. Remember to obey safety rules, such as speed limits, right of way, and traffic signals.

If You Need a Bike Accident Lawyer in New York City

Even with the best bicycle riding and safety precautions, accidents on bicycles happen. If you or a loved one has been hurt or even killed in a bicycle accident in New York City or state, contact Edelman, Krasin & Jaye today. We have practiced in New York state for more than five decades.

Call us today for a complimentary consultation. Our NYC bicycle accident lawyers will give you information on the ramifications of your legal case and work to garner just compensation. We also make house calls if traveling is difficult.

Additional Resources:

  1. Citi Bike. Electric FAQs.
  2. Citi Bike. Say hello to the electric Citi Bike bicycle.
  3. Haas, Ryan. The Average Bike Riding Speed. September 11, 2017.