BEND, OR -- Bend Police, city leaders and others will meet next week to discuss the safety of electric bikes. "Our officers and command staff have been frustrated by e-bikes for a long time," Bend PD's Sheila Miller told KBND News earlier this week. That frustration, she says, comes from confusing laws that are tough to enforce, "Like a lot of technological developments, maybe the laws haven’t really kept up with e-bikes. A good example of that is, the law says you have to be 16 to ride an e-bike, but it doesn’t require a license or registration. It doesn’t make the age restriction necessarily a citable offense." Miller adds, "You can’t ride them on the sidewalk, but you can ride them through crosswalks. It’s a lot of these different things that make it difficult for officers to cite - to crack down, other than to stop kids, educate them, explain that it’s not legal, call their parents."
A Bend 15-year-old died last month after his e-bike crashed into a minivan. He was underage, riding on the sidewalk against traffic and without a helmet. Although, Miller says, the investigation has not yet determined whether the outcome would’ve been the same on a regular bike. "There’s been a lot of outcry about this child’s death and whether it could’ve been prevented, and rightly so. And I think unfortunately, perhaps this child’s death may spark some action on the part of state and local officials to do more to regulate e-bikes."
State Rep. Emerson Levy (D-Central OR) is also scheduled to attend Tuesday's roundtable with the city. She told KBND News last month she knew the victim in the deadly incident. “Community safety is one of my top priorities- our first roundtable is an essential start in achieving our shared goal of safer streets," Levy said in a statement this week, "We are seeing record levels of teenagers acquiring e-bikes, and it's time we perfect the laws surrounding these devices so our youth, and everyone in our community, can enjoy them safely.”
Miller says she's hopeful, "And I think a lot of people in our department are hopeful that perhaps a legislative review, clarification of some of these laws will help us move forward."
Also scheduled to take part in the meeting:
- Phil Chang, Deschutes County Commissioner
- Melanie Kebler, Bend Mayor
- Megan Perkins, Bend Mayor Pro Tem
- Steve Cook, Bend-La Pine School District Superintendent
- Deb Schoen, Bend Park and Recreation District Board Member
- Kayla Hootsmans, ODOT Legislative Coordinator
- Janet Hruby, City of Bend, Assistant City Engineer
- Jim Elliott, Bend Bikes Board Member
The e-bike roundtable is Tuesday, July 18, 3-5 p.m. at the Larkspur Community Center Multi-Purpose Room (1600 SE Reed Mkt Rd, Bend). Seating is limited and the public is encouraged to view the livestream HERE. Comments can be submitted in writing by noon on Monday, to be included in the roundtable discussion. Email the Bend City Council at email@example.com or Rep. Levy at firstname.lastname@example.org.