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Letters to the Editor: Does a child’s death in an e-bike accident highlight a need for regulation?

A building surrounded by trees with a mural of a young girl on one wall
A mural dedicated to a 12-year-old who died in an e-bike crash is painted on the exterior of the Pierson Playhouse in Pacific Palisades.
(Wesley Lapointe / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Though my heart goes out to the Palisades parents who lost their daughter in the e-bike accident, as written about in Noah Goldberg’s article, I wonder if their ire is misplaced. Every time I see children, often barefoot, rarely helmeted and sometimes mounted two or three on a single bike, I cross my fingers on their — and their parents’ — behalf.

As a Rad Power bike owner, and someone who rode motorcycles in my youth, I regard the operation of many e-bikes as more akin to a motorcycle than a bicycle. They achieve and maintain high speeds much faster than a manual bike and their heavier frames can result in more sluggish handling.

E-bike governance strikes me as similar to the current controversy surrounding Tesla’s autonomous driving feature. In both cases our transportation regulators are failing to move as quickly as advances in the technology of popular conveyances that can put people at great risk. It appears that regulators are paying more attention to the autonomous driving issue; hopefully they’ll do the same with e-bikes.

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Jordan Sollitto, San Marino

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To the editor: Noah Goldberg’s story on the dangers of e-bikes focuses primarily on the safety of the rider, highlighting the tragic death of 12-year-old Molly Steinsapir on a steep downhill in Pacific Palisades. An equally important danger not mentioned is to pedestrians. Bicycles should be ridden in the street, though local laws vary on the legality of riding a bike on the sidewalk. But the proliferation of e-bikes has resulted in many riders, often kids, using the sidewalk in lieu of the street.

I’ve had several close calls with e-bikes on the sidewalk. A machine capable of speeds of more than 20 miles per hour is not compatible with sidewalks used by pedestrians averaging 3 miles per hour As part of the impetus to protect riders of e-bikes, equal attention should be paid to protecting vulnerable pedestrians from negligent riders.

Michael V. Sanders, Rossmoor

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To the editor: Although I understand the appeal of e-bikes, their proliferation and the reckless manner in which they are often operated pose a serious threat to public safety. E-bikes are tantamount to motor-driven cycles and should be operated as such. I frequently see children without helmets and careless adults speeding down streets and even sidewalks on their e-bikes. For public safety, helmet requirements, age limitations and operating restrictions should be implemented for e-bikes, as they are for motorcycles.

Donald Hodel, Seal Beach


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