Fortnine study: Are electric bikes more dangerous than motorcycles?

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
A Very interesting video... worth watching for all EBike riders.

Are electric bikes more dangerous than motorcycles? (electrek.co)

Electric bicycle riders are often seen as responsible, eco-minded do-gooders making the selfless sacrifice of bike commuting to replace cars on the road and benefit us all, while motorcyclists are more commonly derided as organ-donating daredevils whose mere act of riding a motorcycle is considered an unnecessary risk.But could things be backward? Could electric bikes actually be more dangerous than motorcycles?

That’s the argument made by FortNine, one of the most popular motorcycle education channels on YouTube
. And as an avid rider of both electric bicycles and electric motorcycles, the answer is quite important to me. FortNine’s videos are always as highly researched as they are highly polished. And while presenter Ryan Kluftinger does take a few leaps in the new video (below), he presents several important points regarding the comparative safety of electric bikes and motorcycles. The biggest issue though is that many of these supposed dangers that are inherent to electric bikes are more accurately described as riding styles and choices associated with e-bikes. These are things that e-bike riders can and should know to avoid.

  • Argument No. 1: E-bikes are slower and thus more dangerous
  • Argument No. 2: E-bike riders aren’t geared up appropriately
  • Argument No. 3: E-bikes have poor visibility
  • Argument No. 4: E-bike use less sophisticated parts
 
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linklemming

Well-Known Member
I always like his videos although I havnt been on a motorcycle in a few years.

I dont agree with everything he says but he brings up good things to consider.

Pretty much everything he states is related to ebikes mingling with traffic which I try to avoid at all costs
 

linklemming

Well-Known Member
I agree. High-density urban traffic does not mix well with bicycles... unless mitigated by protected bike lanes.
As I stated before, he does bring up some really good points (i.e. people not looking for a bike, especially at a higher than normal speed). I used to joke that if I was topless female, they would always see me...at least the guys anyway.

Back in my motorcycle days, I had people look right at me and then pull out. In fact I had a serious accident (broken femur) from just that scenario,

On my ebike, I have had all sorts of things like that happen as well. Awhile back, I had a lady look right at me (we made eye contact), she appeared to move off the trail and then at the last minute she stepped right in front of me seemingly oblivious to my presence.
 

PDoz

Well-Known Member
Unfortunately he's extrapolating UK cycling data (euro - so speed restricted and at least partial cycle friendly infrastructure) and then multiplying by a us ebike factor ( higher speed and mixing with traffic in their environment )

From a safe distance on the other side of the planet .... US ebike RIDERS , who choose to zip around amongst gun wielding yank tank driving trump supporters are at much higher risk than me wandering around my empty Australian tracks on a motorbike. Except that time I crashed in the back yard and got crushed under 200 kg of italian mistress.....
 

sc00ter

Active Member
Being a motorcycle owner I love the FortNine videos with Ryan. And because I ride a motorcycle (actually a 75mph motor scooter now) I'm fully aware of the risk involved, including on my 20mph ebike. I try to pay attention to my surroundings and do the best I can by not being a stupid rider. I do find it interesting when someone looks into ebikes and the only question they have is "How fast?" and demand that it should do "at least" 28mph. Most of these same people can't handle a regular bicycle at 13mph! As more owners do stupid stuff the government will eventually take an interest in ebikes on a larger scale. Everything you do has an inherent risk, its how you handle said risk that makes the difference.
 

Asher

Well-Known Member
Micah Toll had a good article on this video https://electrek.co/2021/01/18/are-electric-bikes-more-dangerous-than-motorcycles/

So much is dependent on the rider and local conditions.

That said, for the same level of caution taken by a rider, I think the e-bike is safer, because speeds are so much lower and e-bikers will tend to ride where they can avoid high speed car traffic. But note my condition - same level of caution for each. I'm picturing an ebiker that is wearing a quality helmet and is experienced in safe cycling technique. Legal ebikes also just aren't as powerful, so they're not as enticing for dangerous stunts.

More broadly, ebikes can be a bridge to a safer world, insofar as lots of people use them in place of cars. That certainly hasn't happened in the US with motorcycles, and with mopeds elsewhere, they're pretty damn terrible for air quality.

I strongly recommend anyone who bikes routinely should take a cycling course. Many people get hurt because they think knowing how to ride is just about making the bike move. So it may well be that the average ebiker is just as endangered as the average motorcyclist, it's hard to tell yet. Three e-bikers in three weeks died in New York City, between December 2020 and January 2021. (One had been drinking, the cause of death for the others is unclear.)
 

mogulskier

Active Member
I ride both, a motorcycle and an e-bike. The former for over 15 years. On a motorcycle, you are side by side with cars sharing the same lane or using the whole lane like a car. So, in my mind, the car driver is used to seeing us in very close proximity to them on daily basis, and us with them. So, there is a predictability that comes along with that and a heightened awareness. I feel safer on my motorcycle.

In my short experience riding an e-bike, I have noticed behaviors that are inconsistent with motorcycle riders. They just have this attitude that they are the most important, and cars had better watch for them, move for them, give them plenty of room, etc. They are all over the road sometimes the wrong direction, on the sidewalks, in the middle of the road, wandering through traffic, and especially ignoring red lights. I've seen more near misses on my e-bike in a month then I'll see on my motorcycle in a year. There is something wrong with that.

Next, you have these 750W/1000W or higher motors, throttles where you yeah, you just pick up 15/20/25/30+ mph very quickly that drivers and pedestrians are just not used to. These e-bike riders on these throttled bikes sure are good at going fast on throttle in a straight line, but coming up on a corner or turn, all of a sudden, all that confidence goes away and it shows.

Overall, interesting article. I don't agree with all of it, but it is on point.
 

bigcanoe

Member
I feel way more venerable on the roads on a scooter or bicycle that cannot go at least 10 MPH over the posted speed limit. I wish we had national laws that roads had to have bike lanes much less shoulders. I think the lines around here are painted on the grass next to the road.
 

Taylor57

Well-Known Member
I try to stay on bike paths, sidewalks and trails and if sharing with cars I go on super high awareness mode. We are lucky here in Palm Springs to have nice bike paths and trails very close to my house. I would be hesitant to use an ebike as a commuter in a busy city if I was going to be going mano y mano with 2 thousand pound cars and trucks...
 

bigcanoe

Member
I live in the country and I would say it might be as deadly as the city. There are no sidewalks or shoulders on the roads, and never a bike lane. There are also lots of tractor trailers and dump trucks flying around!
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Don't have to watch the article. Been there in the past.

Riding is always more dangerous with cars around, but with a motorcycle one can choose to get out in front of traffic, and own the lane. Just cannot do that with a bike. You're forced to take the side and maybe get sideswiped.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
A Demented Corner of the North Cascades
Speed kills.

My average speed on an e-bike is between 20 and 25kph. That small difference in speed (5-10kph) makes a huge difference in the kinetic energy I'll need to get rid of in a spill or a collision, and probably makes the difference between a few bruises and scrapes and broken bones and a trip to the ER.
 

Taylor57

Well-Known Member
I bet your average speed is much lower than you think. If your average speed is 20-25 that implies you are spending a great deal of time at 30+. I go 20+ often in my daily rides but I would say my average speed is probably 15....