BEND, OR -- A local lawmaker says it’s time to take action after a Bend teen died from injuries sustained in an electric bike crash. "My first thought was of course for that poor family," says Rep. Emerson Levy (D-Central OR), "And unfortunately, I found out that I do know them, so it’s been a difficult day. It’s just that that’s the call that no parent ever wants to get." The 15-year-old killed was younger than the legal age of 16 to operate an e-bike under state law.
Levy says she’s now talking with the Bend City Council about expanding efforts to educate teens and parents about the law. She’s also looking at what options the legislature might have; but she acknowledges any state changes wouldn't have an immediate impact, "So, we’ve actually requested a legal opinion of what the state can do, what are the exact regulations as they exist, what are the state’s responsibilities, is there any preemption in the state versus the city? So that we know if there’s something the state can do, or is it better at the city level?"
She believes it's unrealistic to think police can stop and cite every violator and tells KBND News more outreach is needed with parent groups, "Regulations and education haven’t caught up with the power of these bikes, but I think they’re an important tool. Like anything, it’s a good thing when managed well. And so it’s just, how can the community have more information? How can we get it into more hands? Especially within the mom and parent community."
Levy started getting calls from constituents concerned about kids using electric bikes weeks ago, when the weather started to warm. She says she discovered only a handful of cities are taking proactive measures, "The two cities that I’ve seen that have actually done something are Carlsbad and Santa Barbara. So, kind of smaller communities where there’s some level of affluence, where a 12-year-old might be on an e-bike. So, I think Bend and some of these other communities are really on the forefront of this, especially as the price point comes down and the bikes are more accessible."