Unsafe Roads: The Perils of Riding E-Bikes

More from our inbox:

  • Why Indictments Boost Trump’s Popularity
  • Rename the Audubon Society
  • Ron DeSantis, Bully

Ashely Kingsley and her daughter, Scout, at Charlie’s Electric Bike store in Encinitas, where they were renting e-bikes for the day.Credit…Ariana Drehsler for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Teenagers’ Accidents Expose the Risks of E-Bikes” (front page, July 31):

While it is clear that stronger regulation around the speeds of e-bikes is needed, roadway design determines the safety of our communities.

What we are seeing is the deadly consequences of a system built for cars and cars only. As one of the people quoted in the article notes, the bikes’ speed is “too fast for sidewalks, but it’s too slow to be in traffic.”

In a better system, bikes and cars would not have to share the road, and our roads would be designed to accommodate the reality that people get around in different ways, and everyone deserves to get around safely.

Bikes are not motorcycles, and they should not be treated as if they were. These crashes are happening because people on bikes are forced to use unsafe roadways around cars that are often going too fast.

Earl Blumenauer
Portland, Ore.
The writer, a member of Congress, is the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Bicycle Caucus.

To the Editor:

I have been riding motorcycles since 1972. One of the first things you learn, either from hard experience or from older riders, is that you are invisible to most traffic. They aren’t looking for you, so they don’t see you. E-bikes are even smaller, so the problem is likely worse.

I rode one of the faster e-bikes about a month ago. It had a top speed of 35 miles per hour and was much closer to being a motorcycle than a bicycle. Parents, law enforcement and legislators need to wake up to that reality.

Dale Leppo
Hudson, Ohio

To the Editor:

While “Teenagers’ Accidents Expose the Risks of E-Bikes” demonstrates the need for safety in planning and organizing the e-bike rollout, I think it’s important to note that the deaths and injuries cited are due to car drivers, not e-bike riders.

As the article states, 15-year-old Brodee Champlain “did everything right,” including signaling to make a left turn, before a driver hit him. To frame such accidents as the fault of the e-bike is blaming the victim rather than the cause.

Nor is this a problem that will be helped by slowing the introduction of e-bikes to our streets. The fewer people driving cars, the fewer e-bike accidents there will be.

The best way, then, to make cyclists safer is to build up the cycling infrastructure and substantively change our cities’ car-centric design, rather than trying to regulate e-bikes around two-ton vehicles that are far deadlier.

Charles Bonkowsky
Salt Lake City
The writer is an intern at the Salt Lake City Sustainability Department.

To the Editor:

As a former New Yorker, I thought I was accustomed to the perils of pedestrians when out and about, but I had a rude awakening upon moving to Southern California, where e-bikes are ubiquitous. The amazing climate and hilly terrain make it easy to understand why e-bikes have become so popular here, and they provide a handy alternative form of transportation for kids with busy parents.

But seeing young people, often preteens, zip around at 30-plus miles an hour while looking at their phones or drinking a soda makes me concerned for the pedestrians who share the sidewalks with them and for the kids themselves.

Regulation is needed before more lives are lost.

Leigh Jones
Aliso Viejo, Calif.

Why Indictments Boost Trump’s Popularity

Credit…Mark Peterson for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Each Indictment Solidifies Trump’s Base,” by Rich Lowry (Opinion guest essay, Aug. 8):

Mr. Lowry points out that Donald Trump’s recent indictments have enhanced his popularity with the Republican base.

It is not that his supporters like him despite his wrongdoing; they adore him specifically because he thumbs his nose at the laws, rules and institutions that are the basis for our democracy. They are angry at the status quo and the foundational aspects of our government, and Mr. Trump appears anathema to what they perceive as the “deep state.”

Mr. Lowry glosses over the Russia investigation and claims that in the end Mr. Trump was “vindicated.” This is nonsense. A clear case was made that Mr. Trump obstructed justice in the Mueller inquiry. Since he was never indicted for his attempts to thwart that investigation, he continued to obstruct justice in the cases for which he will now have to appear before a judge and jury.

The next two years will test this nation in many ways because of the actions of Donald Trump.

Ellen Silverman Popper

To the Editor:

During every campaign Republican politicians and pundits like Rich Lowry pound their fists and scream about “law and order!” But when it comes to Donald Trump’s rampant criminality, they promote every excuse in the book not to hold him accountable — the most ridiculous one being that it will just make him more popular with the MAGA crowd.

We’ve heard that since the day Mr. Trump boasted about hypothetically shooting a person on Fifth Avenue with no loss of support. We’ve heard it a thousand times. His supporters’ sense of perpetual grievance is being fanned daily on Fox and Breitbart and even in the pages of Mr. Lowry’s publication, National Review.

Mr. Lowry should have used his essay not to reinforce predictable right-wing talking points, but to persuade people on his side of the aisle that these indictments are not only appropriate, but absolutely critical to a healthy, functioning democracy.

Bud Lavery
Highland, N.Y.

Rename the Audubon Society

Credit…Hannah Beier for The New York Times

To the Editor:

“Rising Racial Tensions Shake a Tranquil Pastime” (front page, Aug. 9) reports on a feud within the National Audubon Society, including “the question of whether the conservation group should drop its eponym, John James Audubon, who owned slaves.”

I grew up worshiping the Audubon “brand” as a youthful birder, spent the better part of 20 years on the staff of the Audubon Society, and have studied and written about the life of John James Audubon. (Parts of a biographical sketch I wrote are still found on the Audubon.org website.)

Here’s why I think the Audubon name should be dropped.

It is essential in 2023 that we welcome birders of every background to the movement. The future of conservation depends on it. Social justice and conservation are deeply intertwined; they point to a sustainable future. And names are just a cultural artifact. There is no compelling reason to keep the Audubon name, just as we wouldn’t do for other enslavers and Confederate generals.

I have a suggestion: Rename it the American Society for the Protection of Birds, to borrow a page from our friends across the pond in the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Problem solved.

Fred Baumgarten
Haydenville, Mass.

Ron DeSantis, Bully

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, speaking in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this month.Credit…Rachel Mummey for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “DeSantis Suspends a 2nd Elected Prosecutor in Florida, a Democrat in Orlando” (news article, Aug. 10):

Our hapless governor and would-be president, Ron DeSantis, goes back to the only thing that’s consistently worked for him: bullying.

David Reddy
Tampa, Fla.

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