An HBHS student mindfully riding their e-bike a couple streets away from the campus. (Photography by August Berrios)
An HBHS student mindfully riding their e-bike a couple streets away from the campus. (Photography by August Berrios)
August Berrios

The Achilles Heel of Modern Youth: E-Bikes

Introduction to E-bikes 

The rage that’s felt when someone on an E-bike cuts off a car is becoming common in Southern California. People have been suffering the unfortunate consequences of these bikes becoming readily available to younger customers in the last couple of years. Many kids have been allowed to access bikes with the ability to surpass speed limits in the Huntington Beach (HB) area. E-bikes put the health of the local youth in jeopardy, and with their ever-growing popularity, this issue could get worse if left unsolved.

The Divide Among Students

The Huntington Beach High School (HBHS) student’s feelings are mixed on this topic. Kids who ride these bikes love them, and the ones who don’t, hate them, so it comes down to multiple factors. The first, and one of the most controversial factors, is age. Age seems to be a big reason why E-bikes are looked down upon. E-bikes are incredibly heavy and tall, which can be problematic for younger people who may not have the physical ability to take complete control of their bikes. When younger kids are on  E-bikes, it’s harder for them to follow the road laws on e-bikes. 

Ruby Rice (they/them) a senior at HBHS whose main form of transport is an E-bike said, “I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve almost run into other E-bikers going against the flow of traffic and cutting in front of me with little to no notice.”

This type of behavior Rice explains is a driving factor in our peers’ opinions about e-bikes. The more chaotic behavior on these bikes, the more people will look down upon E-bike users. 

Understanding Road Safety

Although bikes as a whole have been set to certain safety standards and procedures, the uptick in E-bike use has challenged the standard in a way that could have health-threatening alterations.

The improper and unsafe handling of E-bikes comes with serious physical consequences for the rider. (

A study from the California Highway Patrol said, “At least 225 of those crashes (a total of 9,600 accidents in 2023) involved an E-bike, including four which resulted in fatal injury.”

If we also take into account the E-bike riders who have not reported incidents involving their bike, reported collisions are only the tip of the iceberg of E-bike incidents. This trend could become more threatening if the consequences for negligent riders continue to be soft.

The erratic behavior of E-bike riders heavily increases the risk of riding these bikes, in addition to affecting the peace of those driving. A senior at HBHS, Julia Smith (she/her), said, “Every day after school, I have to dodge tons of kids on e-bikes while driving. They ride in the middle of the road instead of the bike lane and on the wrong side of the road. When I get a green light, there will be e-bikes choosing to cross the road when their light is red, and in my way. It’s surprising that no kids from our school have been killed on an e-bike yet.” 

This type of behavior is especially prevalent considering the layout of HBHS  and Main Street. Our campus is directed against traffic, and the sidewalk gives students minimal space to walk. These factors create an incredibly unsafe environment for people riding E-bikes. 

Encounters like the one from Smith are a good example of the tensions created between students who drive cars to campus and those who ride E-bikes. This disconnection affects the students who choose to drive to campus and who’ve gone through California’s driver’s education program. On the flip side, many E-bike riders have not been made to learn the rules of the road. But with the new courses that schools are instating, this could change for the better. 

When asked about how the street adjacent to HBHS could create an unsafe environment for reckless E-bike riding, assistant principal at HBHS Todd Voulemenous (he/him) said, “Oftentimes kids are going too fast, and they are not in the bike lane, they’re on the sidewalk doing 15 to 20 miles an hour, just trying to dodge around kids, which has led to many accidents.” 

So even though the school has implemented rules about e-bikes, their use is still up to the people who ride them. So with unchangeable variables, like the roads that the HBHS campus lays next to, reckless use of these bikes can cause a significant increase in potential injury to riders and pedestrians. 

The principal at HBHS Brenna Orr (she/her) added to Mr. Voulemenous’s statement saying, “E-bikes tend to go against traffic, and somewhere along the line they think that’s safer, which may be to a certain extent because they can see everything, but the vehicles aren’t looking for them which adds more danger and chaos.” 

Orr then emphasized how many drivers just do as they were taught, but in these environments, a driver doing that could lead to more danger because there are so many different threats posed by E-bikes. 


As E-bikes continue to rise in popularity with the youth, parents must make sure that their kids can be safe in these e-bike-based environments. ( )

High school is a transition period for many kids to young adulthood, but transitioning from middle school to high school leaves a lot for people to learn. With age comes experience and growth, and this common sense is vital when handling an E-bike. Mr. Voulemenous said, “Common sense comes with education because it is not always common.” 

Even though kids may have no incentive to learn the rules of the road, if they ride these bikes for a longer period of time the hope is that they learn more about road safety so they are not putting themselves and others in dangerous situations.

Fran Jacobs (he/him), a junior at HBHS, said, “Children who are not old enough or experienced enough to operate a car should not be riding an E-bike. They can get up to the same speed as cars and have caused many accidents, especially around the school,” 

This idea that people have access to these bikes is concerning for many students on campus and suggests that the new E-bike regulations set by the HBHS district are not enough. Mr. Voulemenous adds to this idea by saying, “There’s a reason you have to be 16 to get your driver’s license, and a lot of that is because of maturity and cognitive ability, and because they share the road with cars they need to be knowledgeable of all the same rules as a licensed driver.” 

 Even if there are no enforced programs for E-bike riders, they should still go out of their way to learn the rules of the road, so they don’t create a harmful overall driving experience.

Are E-bike Riders Getting a Bad Wrap? 

It would be an overstatement to say that all E-bike riders are incompetent children who have no regard for safety or traffic laws because the majority of riders don’t act like that. Especially in a school setting, where the actions of a few can have a large impact on the students at HBHS. Rice said, “I think a small group of people who ride E-bikes give us a poor reputation. There are absolutely people that, in my opinion, should not own E-bikes,”

Kids who may not have the right physical and cognitive ability to handle these bikes are the ones who are ruining the image of E-bikes as a whole. 

What Can Be Done About The Problems Around E-bikes?

From the perspective of the city government in Huntington Beach, stricter consequences for reckless behavior may be a way to improve their reckless use. However, implementing higher fines and impoundments of bikes could also create more resentment towards authority. Due to this, there could be an argument made that instead of raising consequences the city government should enforce a mini driver’s education program for E-bikes. Yes, someone could argue that people might skip through these types of programs to get certification. However, if people are made to sit down and read through these rules and regulations it might help alleviate many issues involving a lack of road rule knowledge.

Many problems that arise from the improper use of E-bikes come from the users themselves. The main step anyone can take is to educate and encourage their peers to learn more about E-bike safety. Hopefully, this can lead to a safer environment around E-bikes in Huntington Beach and a decrease in incidents involving their use.

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