So, after careful consideration, perhaps test-driving a few options, you have purchased and have your new ebike at home, ready to use. You are now eager to get out and hit the road, but before you do, put safety first, with some ebike basics. No good injuring yourself or others on your first public ride. Safety first should become your mantra every time you reach for your ebike.
Why You Should Wear a Cycling Helmet?
Without trying to scare you, the most vulnerable, and potentially catastrophic to injury, part of your body is your head. A head injury can be a serious injury. It can be a life-changing injury, or take a very long time to recover from. It is also an injury that can be easily avoided, or mitigated, by the wearing of a safety helmet. A helmet may not do much to protect you from injury if you are struck by a road vehicle at speed, but it will offer good protection if you fall from your ebike and strike your head on a kerb, or other hard surface.
“Dr John Black is an eminent doctor of emergency medicine who has managed helicopter acute medical teams and advised the government on emergency care. He has seen the terrible consequences that can follow from a head injury on a bike, something the evidence shows can be worsened if the rider is not wearing a helmet.” (source)
It can be easy to lose traction, and tumble from your ebike on loose surfaces, or icy conditions, no matter how much care you take, so wear a helmet as a first and major step for personal safety.
Enjoy your ebike ride, but don’t get too lost in the passing scenery that you forget to watch out for potential dangers. Always beware of other road users and pedestrians. Passing a parked car when the door suddenly opens in front of me is one of my nightmare scenarios. It has happened before and probably will again, so this particular danger I am always conscious of, and wary of every time I pass a bank of parked cars.
Why You Should Use Cycle Lanes?
Unfortunately, cycle lanes are not available on all roads, but more and more, as time marches on, cyclists are given better consideration, and cycle lanes are becoming a more prominent thought and priority when road planning is actioned. If there is a cycle lane available, please use it, it will be safer for you, and a more pleasant ride as you will have less interaction with other road traffic. Separating yourself from buses, lorries, and speeding cars can only be an upside on your ebike ride.
See also: What is an Ebike, or an Electric Bicycle?
See and Be Seen
None of our advice here is compulsory, and I know that some people frown upon suggestions that may seem to be nagging them into behaviour that they are reluctant to follow. We are all individuals and we all have choice and free will. Advice is not a demand; it is merely a suggestion from this individual to others. Therefore, see and be seen, to me, is essential when out and about on your ebike.
See and be seen, entails:
If you can, wear bright high visibility clothing, or at least a reflective vest or bands, especially so on dull days or evening jaunts.
Ensure your ebike has reflectors and they are clean, and front and rear lights are fitted and operational, another essential on dull days or evening rides.
If not fitted as standard, install a handlebar bell to warn pedestrians of your approach.
Pay attention to your surroundings, not just your path ahead. Cars can creep up on you if you are distracted. Look back regularly, more and more cars are electric and you will not hear their approach as you would a petrol or diesel powered vehicle.
Don’t get distracted by your phone. If you receive a call, stop safely at the side of the road, don’t lose attention and endanger yourself and others by manipulating a mobile phone while riding.
Pay attention to road signs and traffic lights. If you are cycling on the road, you must obey the rules.
Learn the correct hand signals, especially when turning, and ensure you signal in plenty of time to warn other road users of your intentions.
The laws of the road vary in different areas and countries. Ensure you know the rules in the area you are riding. Ignorance of the law is not a good excuse if you are pulled over and questioned by an officer of the law.
Do Ebike Basic Safety Checks
So, we have our ebike ready to go, we are visible to other road users, and are raring to go. But, wait a minute. Did we check the ebike? It pays to do a quick inspection before we set off. This will cause a delay of only a few minutes and will put your mind at ease as you proceed along.
Check your tires, ensure they are not flat or too soft. Inflate to the correct pressure if so.
Check your brakes, ensure they work as intended before you set off.
Ebike maintenance should become a part of your regime and you should ensure every part of your ebike is working as intended, or rectified as soon as possible, and definitely before you take your ebike out on the road again. Even though you maintained your ebike after the last ride and know it to be in prime condition. It still pays to check the tires and brakes before every outing, tire pressures can fall, and a missed fault in a brake can be a disaster. Make it a habit to check the tires and brakes before every outing.
Enjoy the Ride
For most ebike riders, the above advice is old hat, and they’ve been doing such for years. It may have become that much of a habit they don’t even realise they are subconsciously doing such when they decide to take out their ebike. This blog is for the new ebike rider, who perhaps hasn’t been on a bike, or ebike, before, or perhaps since they were a child. The main thing is to enjoy your ebike outing, and this enjoyment will be enhanced when you feel safe. So, if you have just taken delivery of a new ebike, then congratulations, and get out there and use it, and use it regularly. But, above all, use it safely.