Whether you are planning an extended road trip on your ebike, or just going on your regular commute to work and back, every ebiker knows there will be hazards on the road. Every road user, whether car or van, or bus or truck driver, should be paying attention when they are on the highway, just as pedestrians should always pay attention before crossing a road. Everyone using a road, and anyone adjacent to a road, should be observant and be wary of any unforeseen incidents that can arise. The busier the road, the more likely for any incident to occur.
This is why, especially those on electric bikes, should always be paying particular attention to what is going on around them as they proceed on their journey. Unforeseen incidents happen because they are unforeseen. The best an ebiker can do is be aware of potential hazards, and be ready to avoid them if they do occur.
Personal Safety First
When all is fine and good, and you are enjoying a jaunt on your ebike, the sun is shining, it is a great day. It can be hard to imagine that anything can go wrong, but on occasions it does happen, and when an incident occurs, whether it is trivial or disastrous, there are certain essentials every cyclist and ebiker should have, that will counter any trivial incident, and assist with anything more serious.
One: Wear a Cycling Helmet
Wear a cycling helmet when going out on the road. Believe me, when a human head hits a hard object, whether it is a tarmacadam surface, a concrete path, or a metal car body, the human head always takes second place. This is why, if you have a heavy fall at speed, or come into contact with a moving vehicle, a cycling helmet could save your life. A head injury may be minor and give you a headache for a while, and maybe a small cut on your head, but a head injury may be far more serious, lead to concussion, and ultimately kill you if not treated by a medical professional. Don’t take a chance, wear a safety helmet.
Cycling helmets are not all the same though, and it is false economy, as well as dangerous, to just buy the cheapest. Make sure it is the right size for your head and that it is safety approved by whatever standards agency gauges their effectiveness in your country. E.g., in the US, it should conform to US Consumer Product Safety Commission standards, and should be marked as such. In the UK, the BSI, British Standards Institution, and have their relevant kitemark approval. Other countries have their own safety standards organizations, so check where ever you reside what the safety standards for a cycling helmet are and ensure you buy one that meets approval.
Take some time to learn how to put on and take off a cycling helmet the correct way so it gives you the most protection when you are cycling. It should be on tight enough to stay in place when you give your head a shake, but not too tight that it is uncomfortable. Make sure chin straps are properly secured also.
Two: Ebike Lights and Hi-Viz Clothing
You know how observant you are, especially when cycling in traffic. You are always watching for potential hazards, paying attention to the road before you, knowing what is behind you, and analyzing second by split second, what will happen, if, and when, a particular situation arose, and how to avoid it. It could be something as simple as a dog or cat running across a road, or something more serious like a car coming suddenly out of a junction, so close to you, that you cannot avoid it.
The fact is, that no matter how responsible and observant you are, and how much attention you give on your way ahead. You cannot control the attention span or observational skills of other road users.
Two simple ways to mitigate the failings of other road users is to ensure you are more visible on the road to other traffic. You do this by having decent lights fitted on your ebike, and switched on at all times, not just in poor visibility or night time. Ideally the lights should take power from the battery pack and save you having to remove them to charge them every day. If this is something you have to do, then make it a habit that you do so at the end of every day, till it becomes second nature and something you will do without even thinking about. The second is to wear hi-viz reflective clothing. If you do not care for full hi-viz clothing, then at least purchase some reflective straps and armbands to increase your visibility on the road. The more visible you are, the safer you are.
See also: Ebike in traffic, the Safe Way
And: Are Ebikes Dangerous
Three: An Ebike First Aid Kit
At one time or another, you will suffer the minor irritation of a small cut or graze. Nothing to write home about, not a serious accident in the least, but still something that can be easily dealt with, with some antiseptic cream and a band-aid. Why risk such a minor annoyance flaring up into something that may cause major discomfort if it gets infected, rather than spending a moment cleaning and protecting it?
A small first-aid kit is cheap to buy and easy to store, either under the seat or attached to the frame somewhere, if you don’t have a carrier bag or panniers. They will contain the very basics, some gauze, bandages, antiseptic cream, maybe some adhesive butterfly stitches, some safety pins and disposable gloves. You can add anything else you think necessary, and perhaps include a short history of any medical conditions you have, and a list of any daily medication that you take, that may be information a paramedic will require if you become involved in a serious incident.
You are not inviting a serious incident to happen by doing this, you are using your common-sense and preparing for any eventuality in a competent and professional way.
The road is an Adventure
Using an ebike on the road can be fun. It can be an adventure, especially when navigating new roads and routes you have never used before. But whether you are on a road trip journeying down roads to places you have never visited before, or just doing your normal routine commute to your place of work. If you are using your ebike in traffic, it is always wise to do so as safely as you can, and if you follow the three steps above, you will be safer than not.
11 Nov 2021