Need E-bike Riders to be Courteous

by Dennis Hickethier

My wife and I have been riding electric assist bicycles (e-bikes) for two-and-a-half years. We were almost 72 years old when we bought them and wanted help to climb the hills in Adams County. They made riding fun again as we weren’t exhausted after a good ride. We can still get as much exercise as we want due to the levels of electric assist we can choose. Our speed hasn’t changed much with the e-bikes and lots of riders with no electric quickly pass us by. However, many e-bike riders like to go fast in places they shouldn’t. I’ve heard complaints from pedestrians in the borough who have been nearly hit by a speeding e-bike coming around a corner while the pedestrian was crossing a street. I have seen a number of e-bike riders going fast the wrong way, against traffic, on West Confederate Avenue. I’ve seen vehicles dodging these speeding cyclists while maneuvering around parked vehicles and walkers. An accident is sure to happen if e-bike riders continue to do this.

Many websites offer safety tips for e-bike riders and the people around them and I am citing some tips in this article. Since e-bikes can go faster than a regular bicycle, when riding around cars, other bikes, and pedestrians we need to be courteous and keep our speed in check and never exceed the posted speed limit. When passing other bicyclists and pedestrians on the road, we should use a bell or let the person know we are passing in a friendly voice. As a faster-moving vehicle, if we choose to ride our e-bikes on greenways and other multi-use paths, we need to be respectful of all other users and know that in some areas, riding an e-bike on these types of trails may not be allowed. Any and all cyclists should wear bright color clothing so we are readily visible to others near us. Flashing lights on the front and back of our bicycles is also a good idea, even in daylight.

I think everyone knows by now that the park service prohibits riding bicycles against traffic on park roads. This in accordance with state law. The prohibition does make it difficult to ride to certain locations, but until the park service can provide an alternative, we need to follow the rules, or risk getting a ticket. It was not so noticeable when standard cyclists would ride slowly against traffic where the roadways where wide, but on any busy road, it is dangerous for bicycles to go fast against traffic. This bad behavior makes residents dislike and distrust cyclists in general. Our organization has been working for many years to improve relationships between cyclists and motor vehicle drivers. A few bad cyclist behaviors can negate that effort very quickly. I’ve even gotten complaints about a group of regular cyclists ignoring stop signs and running through as a group. I assume that it was some group from outside Adams County and the behavior should be reported.

If you ride south on West Confederate Avenue, with traffic, rather than turn around and ride north on West Confederate to return, ride east on Millerstown Road to Emmitsburg Road. Since you have an e-bike, it should be no problem to ride north to town on Emmitsburg Road. If you don’t like that road, go east on Wheatfield Road and turn left onto Sedgwick Avenue. Then you can enjoy a pleasant ride past the Pennsylvania monument and the angle and back into town. Please be courteous and respectful to pedestrians and follow the rules of the road so we don’t create angry drivers. Hopefully, they will give you four feet of clearance as they pass, in accordance with Pennsylvania law.

The Adams County Community Foundation’s annual Giving Spree is Thursday, November 3. Please consider donating to HABPI to support our mission to develop biking and walking trails in Adams County and to promote safe biking in the area. As an all-volunteer nonprofit, 100% of your donation goes directly to our projects and initiatives.

Dennis Hickethier has been a board member of HABPI since it was created in 2005, when he retired from the federal government. He is a slow but steady rider who enjoys the wonderful scenery of Adams County and the pleasant roads we have to ride.