Electronic motorbikes: Assessing the accident risks after Simon Cowell’s e-bike fall

Blog image courtesy of Clint Brewer Photography / BACKG

This year, electronic motorbikes or e-bikes have seen a surge in popularity in Ontario. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many Ontarians to look for new ways to get around, motorized sets of two wheels provide a faster way to get from A to B.

But despite this benefit, recent high-profile accidents have raised questions over the safety of e-bikes. Not only that but whether individuals can be properly compensated in the aftermath of electronic motorbike accidents too.

In August, “America’s Got Talent” judge Simon Cowell was the victim of an e-bike accident 1 . Testing a powerful electric trail bike outside his California home, the 60-year-old Englishman fell and broke part of his back. Still in recovery, he initially tweeted: “Some good advice… If you buy an electric trail bike, read the manual before you ride it for the first time. I have broken part of my back. Thank you to everyone for your kind messages.” More recently in September, singer Rihanna was also involved in a similar accident, this time on an electric scooter. Flipping over, she bruised her forehead and face 2 .

E-bikes are now being used more, not just by the rich and famous, but everyday Ontarians too. Leading to a rise in electronic motorbike accidents as well, it’s important you stay aware of the accident risks.

What is an electronic motorbike (e-bike)?

Electronic bikes or e-bikes have a battery that allows riders to travel at much higher speeds compared to regular bicycles. This small motor assists riders’ pedal-power as they travel.

In August, Bike Share Toronto launched a new pilot program for e-bikes as part of their 2020 expansion 3. With 300 pedal-assist e-bikes now available on city streets, these powerful sets of two wheels are a road traffic safety risk in inexperienced or irresponsible hands.

Indeed, electric bike riders are more likely than a car driver to be killed or injured in a collision since e-bikers use traditional bicycle lanes, mixing with slower-moving bicycles and pedestrians.

Who can legally ride an e-bike in Ontario?

The most controversial factor surrounding e-bikes is the fact you don’t need a licence or insurance to ride one in Ontario. Riders simply have to be 16 or over, they must wear a helmet, and they cannot exceed the maximum speed limit of 32 kilometers an hour. Ultimately, for rookie e-bikers or beginners, this speed is rather fast.

What are the dangers of riding e-bikes?

Because e-bikes can go much faster than a regular bicycle, this naturally brings heightened safety risks. Given the increased speed, when people do get hurt, injuries tend to be much more serious. Types of injuries suffered by falling off an electric bike or being hit by an e-biker include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Abrasions / contusions / lacerations
  • Broken bones / fractures
  • Concussion and traumatic brain injury
  • Dislocation of arms, elbows, knees and shoulders
  • Internal bleeding and punctured lungs
  • Spinal cord injury and paralysis

With any increased speed, in this case up to 32 kilometers an hour, a heightened skill level is normally considered necessary to get around. However, new Ontarian riders don’t require training before purchasing or using an e-bike. In many quarters, this is considered very problematic.