E-bike education for children needed to avoid a tragic accident

With the election over, the heated debate du jour seems to be e-bikes. I don't see them as a problem. It's a great inexpensive mode of transportation, they are environmentally friendlier than a motorcycle or car, and, although I've not ever used one, they look fun.

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What I do see being a problem is the younger operators of these motorized bikes, and, quite honestly, a few of the parents as well. The parents seem to hand over the new toy and tell their kid to go have fun, with no instruction on how to safely and responsibly use them.

Some of these kids just don't have the maturity to comprehend proper operation and road safety skills. I've also heard quite a few parents comment that they spent a lot of money on them – and it would be money wasted if a ban is put in place.

Most residents are concerned about safety. There will, at some point, be a terrible accident with an e-bike rider if our village doesn't act soon to institute strict regulations on proper use.

Perhaps a committee of residents and police can create something aligned to a driver's education program. We all had to do it if we wanted to drive a car at 16. So, let's create a set of road rules for e-bike operators. Put them in a booklet. Have the kids study the booklet. Require them to attend a few safety classes. Create a practical road exam. Once they successfully pass the testing, give them a certificate. The certificate must be with them when they use their e-bikes, just like we carry our driver's license when we drive our cars.

Let's establish an age requirement to use the bikes. Those 12 and older should be able to handle the responsibility. Maybe nighttime use is reserved for those 14 and older.

The most important part of this program needs to be mandatory attendance for the parents. Maybe not for the entire program, but certainly a portion of it. Educating parents is just as important, so everyone – the child, law enforcement and parents – are on the same page when it comes to safely operating an e-bike.

I've seen too many kids go right through stop signs, drive on the wrong side of the road, have multiple people on one bike, not wear a helmet, on their phones talking or taking selfies, while riding their bikes with a friend riding on the same bike.

We will have a serious accident one day and it won't be pretty.

Kristin Kann

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