HONOLULU (KHON2) — Electric bikes, better known as e-bikes, continue to gain popularity. And with more of them on the road, it’s no surprise hospitals are seeing an increase in injuries related to them.
KHON2.com spoke with a bike shop and a medical professional who share tips to staying safe.
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“When it first came out, I just had to have it,” said avid e-bike rider Helen Kahawai Clark. “I just love it!”
Kahawai Clark bought her e-bike years ago and can’t get enough of it.
She’s not alone.
E-bikes are booming. In fact, according to the city, in the past two years the number of e-bikes registered in Honolulu more than quadrupled.
This year e-bike registrations could even surpass regular bikes.
FY2021 25,344 1,424
FY2022 16,417 4,943
FYTD 2023 9,864 7,811
Justin Vinoya, The Bike Factory supervisor, said they usually sell at least one e-bike a day.
And for all their convenience, Vinoya admitted riding a motorized bike traveling between 15 to 28 mph, can be daunting.
“Even though it doesn’t feel like it’s fast, it is fast in a way like especially if you’re keeping up with traffic.”
Kahawai Clark said it makes her uncomfortable when she sees e-bikes speeding down the road keeping up with traffic.
“I cringe when I see them,” she said. “To me, it’s dangerous because a lot of times they don’t have a helmet; and a lot of times they’re doing pop a wheelies. And it just doesn’t look safe.”
Hawaii Bicycling League Executive Director Travis Counsell said if people don’t follow the rules and don’t know how to ride properly it is dangerous.
“When people might not know how to control [e-bikes] or understand how much power they have, could really find themselves in situations where it would be unsafe,” Counsell explained.
Rick Bruno, president of Queens Medical Center said they are seeing an uptick in e-bike related injuries.
“We see an e-bike injuries a couple of times a month,” Bruno added, “and we expect to continue to see more.”
The injuries are similar to other bicycle injuries
“Mostly orthopedic injuries,” he said. “But we can see serious injuries related to head injuries when people fall.”
According to Bruno, they just started tracking e-bike and motorized bicycle injuries last year.
Safety is key when riding an e-bike, and wearing a helmet is one of the easiest ways to prevent a serious head injury.
Experts said e-bike riders need to take reaction time into consideration in case they have to make a sudden stop.
Counsell said paying attention to their surroundings and being familiar with the bike are also important.
Hawaii law prohibits anyone under the age of 15 from riding an e-bike. Counsell said the Hawaii Bicycling League is working with law makers to better regulate e-bikes.
HBL offers free workshops for e-bikes.
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Counsell also had this message to share with riders.
“Ride responsibly, you know, share the road with aloha,” concluded Counsell.