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The E-bike Epidemic – Op-Ed by Ira H. Leesfield

The E-bike Epidemic.

Like disease bearing mosquitos, E-bikes have taken over the safety and tranquility of the American modern city.  They are everywhere, left randomly on streets, sidewalks and alleys, littering our cityscape with unsightly and unusual dangers.  If you haven’t noticed, greed and stupidity have invaded your everyday life, with a strong promise to make your locomotion more dangerous, fill the emergency rooms with foreseeable hazards, and threaten the overall well-being of the public to fill the coffers of some and the thrills of others.

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Why the E-bike?  There is no good explanation!  Under the present regime, this motorized and bastardized “bike” can travel at speeds up to 30 mph.  But, travel where and driven by whom?  There is no designation or provision as to where these insects may go or land. Do they belong on the street, the sidewalk, in bike lanes, shopping centers, parking lots, malls, or just anywhere they please… Again, no rules!  Can they be driven by an 8 year-old, an 80 year-old, is there training, instruction, guidance, rules or requirements for operation?  Again, no!

 

Being unsightly may not be unforgiveable, but landing innocent pedestrians or others in a neurosurgical coma is.  Not to mention a slew of other reported serious injuries… Just ask those who work at Hospitals and Emergency rooms or walk-in medical facilities.  Health care costs and physical harm are an absolute result of an unregulated swarm.  Just now, statistics are being assembled by insurance companies and health care providers who have to pick up the tab for an unneeded, greed-sponsored dangerous toy.

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Just walk around, hear the buzz, watch the helter-skelter path of no rules overtaken by untrained and uncontrolled “operators.” No License? No problem!  No helmet? No problem!  No instruction? Who cares!?  It’s every man, woman and child for themselves!  It’s a takeover by corporations for profit who make access easier than ordering a Starbucks coffee.  Just use your app to find an abandoned carcass.  Then swipe your credit card, and you are off to alleyways and pavements previously reserved for pedestrians, baby strollers or quiet.

 

No doubt the “providers” are paying licensing fees to the cities and municipalities, which is very short term economics.  No law enforcement officer can intervene with the reckless and dangerous conduct “in clear sight.” There are no rules or regulations.   Recently noticed a pre-teen on an e-bike at 25 mph, talking on the phone, headset complete, narrowly missing pedestrians in his weave.  Only to dodge a corner car operator (also texting.)

Is there an answer? Of course! We wouldn’t let horses be ridden anywhere at any time in our cities.  We regulate the age and education of auto operators and even require insurance.  The E-bike operators and, more importantly, the distributors must play by some rules. Require insurance, post a bond, assure safe street use, place an age requirement or otherwise understand that we are heading for a free for all. Take notice!  Call your lawmaker to request some rules, encourage you municipal leaders to ban hazardous use.  Do it, before it’s too late, and the Zika virus looks like a sneeze!

Ira H. leesfield

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