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Orange County mother makes it her mission to preach electric bike safety

Orange County woman makes it her mission to promote e-bike safety
Orange County woman makes it her mission to promote e-bike safety 03:07

The electric bike craze is exploding nationwide, but one Southern California county is holding the shameful title for the most injuries in the state. 

A study found that 41% of all electric bike, also known as e-bike, injuries in California happen in Orange County despite accounting for 8% of the population, according to the region's public works department. To stop this trend, one local woman has made it her mission to keep her community safe.

"I've kind of been dubbed the 'E-bike Lady,'" said Jennifer Robbins, mother. 

She says e-bikes have become her family's lifestyle, even converting her unused living room into her son's e-bike workshop. 

"We are not made of money over here," she said. "These kids know it's a privilege to ride these e-bikes. They don't just get them. They have to learn to maintain it, and that's what my son's done."

The privilege comes with the responsibility to be safe. So, she gathered information from the San Diego Bike Coalition and the DMW handbook to create her own little 20-page packet, to make sure her kids knew all the rules of the road. 

However last year, she received horrific news about her daughter.

"She flew off the speed bump and her head hit the curb and cracked it wide open," Robbins said. 

Thankfully, she recovered. However, these types of accidents are far too common. Dr. Tetsuya Takeuchi at Providence Mission Hospital said that as the price of e-bikes drops, the number of injuries increases. In 2020, there were only about 40 and increased the following year to more than 100. In 2022, there were about 200. 

"Since 2022, for the first year, we actually had e-bikes and motorcycles as the most common mechanism of injury for pediatric patients, but as you can see, motorcycles only accounted for 1% of that. So basically, 99% was e-bike," said Dr. Tetsuya Takeuchi, Providence Mission Hospital Trauma Medical Director.

Seeing the trend, Takeuchi and his team now go into communities with the highest injury rates to educate teens as part of their helmet giveaway program. 

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said she's planning to introduce an e-bike ordinance this spring, regarding speed, helmets and possibly requiring permitting or identification. 

"Look, we're not trying to arrest kids," she said. "We're trying to make sure that they are safe, and they are not putting themselves or others at risk."

However, Robbins said she can't wait for the government to catch up with the statistics. Word spread about her e-bike info packets and now she holds e-bike safety lessons to anyone who requests them for free. She goes over rider communication, headlights, accessories and brake adjustment techniques. 

With every lesson, she reminds everyone that if cars don't do it, e-bikes shouldn't do it either. 

Participants said her lessons are a valuable service to the community. 

"Having it reinforced in a class has been really beneficial and I'm really glad I brought the kids," rider Madeleine McAnlis said. 

The E-Bike Lady said she doesn't plan to stop giving these free classes, as long as there is a need. 

"The more we talk, the more noise we make, the more we keep it relevant — everyone is going to be safer," Robbins said. 

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