We've all been there: You're navigating a busy sidewalk downtown, when out of nowhere, a bicyclist nearly crashes into you. Unfortunately, our sidewalks are about to get even more dangerous.
LimeBike, one of the many bike-share companies, has provided their fleet of electric bicycles (e-bikes), which can reach speeds of 20 miles an hour. Those e-bikes often share the sidewalks with pedestrians.
A risky addition to our crowded sidewalks
Initially, Seattle legislators fought to keep e-bikes off of the sidewalks. They were concerned, and rightly so, about having vehicles travelling 20 miles per hour down a crowded sidewalk. Unfortunately, this is not exactly a new problem.
There is a city ordinance dating back forty years that allows bicycles to share the sidewalk with pedestrians. Though today's Seattle streets are much different than they were four decades ago, the city ordinance still stands. Legislators added a law banning e-bikes from sidewalks, but the bike lobbyists fought back.
Those lobbyists won the day by adding a loophole that differentiated between bikes that topped out at 20 mph and those that reached 28mph. The former will be allowed on sidewalks; the latter will not.
Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson is an avid fan of electric bicycles. In a legislative hearing regarding the issue, she proclaimed; "I am in love with my bike. It makes you feel like you are 25 again, even if you are a bit over 40."
E-bikes have also been a regular feature on the dozens of interurban trails all over the city. This is concerning, especially for those people who travel the trails because they are safer and slower than the busy streets.
Keep sidewalks safe for pedestrians
Laws must be enacted to protect the people of our city, not cater to the desires of a few. Because of their high-speed capability when compared to others on the sidewalk, electric bikes like those supplied by LimeBike fall out of the realm of bicycles and into the realm of motor vehicles, and they must be regulated as such. Allowing riders to use e-bikes on sidewalks places pedestrians at a great risk.
If you have been injured in an accident on the road or on the sidewalk, contact us today. Our accomplished attorneys at Nelson Langer Engle, PLLC are waiting to hear from you. We can provide you with a free consultation about your case.