Editorial: E-bike

By The Tam News Staff

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of electronic bikes being ridden in and around Mill Valley. These power assisted bicycles are a fan favorite for younger teenagers as they have similar capabilities of a car or motorcycle without requiring any sort of test or age requirement to ride one. Not only does this bring another level of safety issues, but it means that drivers have to be extra careful as they ride around town.

The main demographic for those misusing these extremely technologically capable bicycles is teenagers ranging from sixth to ninth grade. These younger teenagers are not old enough to get their driver’s licenses. Instead of biking around on normal bikes, or simply walking to their destination, these teens have invested in e-bikes like the popular brand, Rad Power that can cost up to $2,000. For this hefty price, you can get a bike that can travel car-like speeds without ever exerting any physical force. This seems like a cool idea, however there is a reason 14 year olds can’t drive cars. 

On April 14, Tamalpais High School Administration sent out an email regarding the safety concerns with e-bikes being ridden by Tam students. They provided a link with additional information from the Mill Valley Police Department (MVPD). This email is in response to a number of incidents that have occured recently involving Tam students and unsafe ebike conduct. “They have let us know that they will be ticketing people who are in violation of these rules,” Assistant Principal Kaki McLachlan wrote in a separate email. Although the school is not responsible for all students that ride e-bikes, they do their best to provide safety guidelines and keep the community aware of the appropriate procedures.  

There have been complaints written about these unsafe e-bike users on the popular neighborhood app, Nextdoor. One post by nextdoor user Charles Keppel reads, “I worry about seeing young kids doing 15+ miles an hour with no regulation.” Worried adults have also compared the bikes to motorized vehicles. “That’s not a bike, that’s a motorcycle,” Nextdoor user Fred Doar posted. 

On roads like Miller Avenue, E. Blithedale Avenue, and Camino Alto, the bikes can travel at the same speed, if not faster, than the cars around it. “Many of our students are not paying attention or following the rules of bike riding and the community members that complain are really just calling out of concern for the student biker and/or the safety of others on the road. No one wants to hurt another on the road!” McLachlan wrote. 

Other students have found e-bikes to be considerably bothersome as they travel to and from school. The majority of e-bike users neglect to acknowledge all of the dangers and responsibilities that go along with riding a speedy, motorcycle-like, contraption without wearing helmets or much protection at all. Their inability to safely share the road with both cars and pedestrians is extremely irritating and it increases the chances of hazardous situations occurring. “Electric bikes annoy me while I’m driving, especially when kids are the ones riding them because they don’t know the rules of the road,” Tam junior Sannah Javaheri said. 

In order to ensure safety for students on and off campus there must be more requirements and regulations in place for those that ride these power assisted bicycles carefree. Many wonder whether they should be in the same lane as a car if they are going the same speed or faster in the bike lane. The rules of the road must be taught to children so that it is more clear what is expected of them before any serious accidents occur. Members of the community have concerns regarding the lack of police action, however parents will continue to buy these dangerous bikes for their immature children.