Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

E-bike injuries increase while helmet use declines, study finds

Angela John

E-bike injuries increased while helmet use declined over the span of five years, according to a study published on Feb. 21 in Jama Surgery. 

Researchers analyzed over 1,000 cases of e-bike injuries reported by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System between 2017 and 2022. Of those who were injured, only 44% wore a helmet, with the odds of helmet use declining by over 5% each year. During this time, the number of head trauma incidents also increased, being 49 times higher in 2022 than in 2017. 

Natalie Best, a long-time bike rider and mechanical engineering freshman, said she’s ridden e-bikes before in Austin. She said the environment of Austin, particularly parts of campus, makes riding e-bikes dangerous. She also sees riders taking them to crowded and inconvenient areas. 

“(People on e-bikes) just try to rip down Speedway,” Best said. “(If you) have someone weaving in and out on an e-bike, it’s prime ground for a pedestrian and someone on an e-bike to run into each other.”

According to the study, over 45,500 injured riders visited hospital emergency departments in the five years observed. During the short period, there was a sharp rise in hospitalizations.

Business freshman Omar Hagag rented an e-bike in downtown Austin to see more of the city. He said it is a problem when people ride e-bikes in the middle of the road. 

“When you’re in your car, you have a massive layer between you and danger,” Hagag said. “When you’re on an e-bike, you have no outside protection … (the distance) between you and danger is very slim and a hit from a car, I mean not even a hit, just like a tap from a car is enough to send you flying.” 

E-bike imports reached an all-time high of 1.1 million in 2022 and are a “popular choice in the clean transportation revolution,” according to the study. Kavish Dewani said he uses e-bikes to get around campus daily. He likes the fast speed of e-bikes in particular. 

“It helps you get where you want faster,” mathematics freshman Dewani said. “So … it makes a 15-minute walk into a three or four-minute bike ride.” 

Best said e-bikes are easily accessible and a nice alternative to cars, but people are accepting a risk whenever they choose to ride one. To avoid getting into an accident, she said she advises students to wear proper footwear and a helmet. 

“Helmets have been proven time and time again to save lives,” Best said. “If there’s one thing to get out of this article, it is please just wear a helmet. There is a very real chance that it can save your life.”

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