DID YOU KNOW? Bonnie Donovan
We have previously discussed objections to plans for removing mature trees on the Modoc Preserve.
We agree with the need to provide safety for bicyclists. We agree with the need to preserve, as many as possible, of the beautiful trees that provide shade and habitat for wildlife. We need to find alternative solutions to the current plan, so as to achieve these ends in a cooperative, collaborative manner, where citizens and officials join in preserving our heritage.
Overall, we strive to maintain the beauty and traditions that have made Santa Barbara one of the most desirable small cities in the world. This is why we also strive to protect neighborhoods from overbuilding. Our safety concerns include pedestrian safety.
We believe that it is necessary to protect cyclists traveling at 10-15 mph from cars traveling at 30-40 mph. It is equally necessary to protect pedestrians traveling at 3-4 mph from bicycles traveling at 10-20 mph.
Just a couple of days ago the Santa Barbara Police Department confirmed that some e-bikes can travel up to 28 mph. Will 28 mph police e-bikes be allowed to ride on shared pathways?
An 83-year-old lady called us to report that she was almost knocked down last Saturday evening by an e-bike cyclist as she walked along State Street. She said they were texting as they rode along. Who is protecting the walking public?
We just had another report of a teenager traveling fast on an e-bike along Calle Real, who shot straight through the stop sign at the junction of the Highway 101 exit at El Sueno.
Back to multi-use/shared-use pathways being introduced. Some by design, and some by default, already exist. Did You Know? took a look at the mix of users on all walking paths.
There are pedestrians with their dogs walking along at between 1.5 mph to 3 mph with frequent stops as their dogs sniff around.
Also, young mothers walk with their 6- and 7-year-old children or push infants in their strollers at 1-3 mph. Then, the dedicated walking pedestrians stride along at 2.5 to 4 mph. Followed by the joggers going at 4 to 6 mph.
The determined runners hustle along at 8 mph for males and 6.5 mph for females. Then there are disabled people in their motorized wheelchairs cruising at 5 to 8 mph.
Did you know that in this mix of slow movers on shared pathways now, the fast movers from pedal bicycles are moving at 15 mph and electric bicycles can move at 20 mph and faster, under electric power and pedal power combined?
Back to the electric bikes. There is a class 1 bike that has an electric motor assist when the pedals are turning. This bike can achieve 20 mph on the flat. Then there is the class 2 bike that has an electric motor that is manually controlled by the rider. It also can reach 20 mph on the flat. The class 3 bike has a more powerful electric motor and can reach a speed of 28 mph on the flat.
There are some restrictions on where a class 3 bike can be ridden. But there is virtually no enforcement of any traffic rules for bicycles being used in defiance of posted signs forbidding bike-riding, as we have experienced and been informed.
Therefore, we expect that all classes of electric bikes will be used wherever the rider wants to ride them. We see this already on pathways where all bicycles are forbidden.
Regulations have little relevance without enforcement. Enforcement requires feet on patrol. It requires the identification of perpetrators. Identification is impossible to verify without license plates on electric bicycles. Penalties for infractions should include impoundment of the bicycle and a sizable fine.
Did you know that there are no special highway code training requirements, no licensing requirements, and no insurance requirements to own and use an electric bike capable of such speeds, with enough momentum and kinetic force impact to cause serious injury?
There appear to be no regulation speed limits for electric bicycles, because of the speed limitations of the electric motors, although these limitations can be overridden on road inclines, by fast pedaling and, by converting class 2 bikes to class 3 speed capabilities.
There appear to be no age limits for operating electric bikes on pathways, on the roads, or anywhere else. In addition, we have heard reports of two and even three juveniles aboard one electric bike riding dangerously on the roads. From our research to date, we can only find that you must be 16 years of age for a class 3 electric bike.
We are hearing complaints by pedestrians that teenage and young adult electric bike riders are harassing and intimidating them. It seems that the speed of these bikes gives the riders a sense of power and entitlement that they have the right of way and the pesky, slow, pedestrians are thwarting that realization.
Yet, as things stand, unless we prevent it by speaking up, writing letters, and by attending city/county meetings, we shall see electric bikes being permitted in the plans for the new State Street Promenade and on all existing and new shared walkways.
Think about this. You are walking along a pedestrian pathway at about 3 mph. Two people on electric bikes come up behind you. They are distracted and cannot stop before one of them hits you from behind at 13 mph.
A 45 pound electric bike ridden by a person weighing 140 pounds at a speed of 13 mph has a maximum potential kinetic energy at the point of impact of 1,378.8 Joules. In practice, the collision would deliver less energy, depending on the angle, and body and bike contact points. But likely enough to do bodily harm.
Back to our tree removal count, we were informed the city of Santa Barbara removed 170 trees in the already complete Los Positas/Modoc multi-use bike path. That is just five projects with a total of 335 trees removed.
Where are our officials, elected to protect us all? The state just passed more laws allowing all these e-bikes without insurance, license or helmets. Again, we ask who will pay for the injuries: the city, the county or the state? Our city and county have the right to create local regulations, but will they?