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Are Electric Bikes (E-Bikes) Safe for Children?

Phyllis Agran, MD, FAAP


Biking is a great way to get to and from school and other activities. It is good exercise, and it's fun when children are ready. Now, electric bikes (e-bikes) of all sizes and speeds are growing more popular.

We see more kids riding e-bikes on sidewalks, paths and in the street. But how do you know if your child is ready to ride an e-bike?

Read on to learn more about how old your child needs to be to ride an e-bike and tips to keep in mind when choosing one.

What is an e bike?

E-bikes look like regular bikes. However, they include an electric motor and a rechargeable battery. Electric bikes are also faster, heavier and have two or three wheels and pedals.

Types of e bikes

  • Class 1: the bike motor only works when the rider is pedaling and it can reach speeds up to 20 mph

  • Class 2: includes a throttle that allows the rider to use the bike motor without pedaling or with pedaling. It can reach speeds up to 20 mph

  • Class 3: may or may not have a throttle but can reach speeds up to 28 mph or more

Removing or unlocking the speed limiter on an e-bike is not recommended. It can be dangerous and cause damage to the bike.

Should your child ride an e-bike?

Just as they learn to walk and bike safely, they need to know how to safely operate an e -bike before they pedal off on their own. E-bikes require different skills and extra training. And many states and even some communities have regulations on who can or cannot ride e-bikes.

The first step is to find out whether there are laws or rules about how old a person must be to operate e-bikes. Check the vehicle code in your state and regulations in your community. Confirm whether the rules apply to all classes of e-bikes. Some areas also have stricter laws for the faster (class 3) e-bikes.

Keep in mind: The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that children age 9 through 12 years should not operate any product that travels faster than 10 mph.

What about my teenager?

E-bikes may be motorized, but they are not considered motor vehicles at this time.

Even so, if your teen is 16 years of age or older and has a learning permit or driver's license, they can still benefit from instruction to help them ride an e-bike safely. Check with your city and school district to see if there are training courses. Some school districts require training for the e-biker to have a school parking permit.

Other e-bike safety risks

If your child is old enough to safely operate an e-bike, keep in mind:.

There is a higher risk of severe injury and death for riders of e-bikes than for regular bike users.

E-bikes were reported as the reason for about 53,000 emergency department visits and caused 104 deaths from 2017-2022. In 2022 alone, e bikes were linked to 24,400 emergency department visits.

Motor vehicle crashes and bike control issues were the top hazards associated with e-bike fatalities.

E-bike batteries can cause fires. The e-bike battery powers the motor but it must be charged often. Parents should keep in mind that a rechargeable e-bike battery presents a higher risk of fire and explosion. Always be present when charging the e-bike battery. Never charge any battery while you are sleeping, and only use the charger that is recommended. (Find more battery safety tips here.)

Electric bikes need extra care. Routine maintenance of an e-bike is not the same as for a regular bike. Make sure you and your child know what is required to keep the e-bike operating properly. This includes reading the user manual, learning about warnings and instructions and performing recommended safety checks.

Follow the rules of the road on an e bike

Remember, all bikers of all ages whether using an e-bike or not should follow the basic rules of the road:

  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as traffic using bike lanes when available.

  • Stop and look both ways before entering the street.

  • Stop at all intersections, whether marked or unmarked.

  • Respect traffic lights and stop signs.

  • Wear a bicycle helmet that fits properly and is approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. (Find details about which helmet to choose for which activity here.)

  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Do not talk on the cell phone, text or wear ear buds or headphones while riding.

  • Discourage kids from taking passengers on the back of the e-bike.

  • Do not operate the e bike if you are drinking or using substances or taking medications that can interfere with your ability to be a safe biker.

  • Alert others such as pedestrians that you are approaching. They may not hear you.

  • Follow safety rules when towing bicycle trailers.


Children must first understand how to be safe pedestrians and then learn to be safe bicycle riders. Proper safety education and training are important to ride a regular bike. But riding a regular bike does not ensure that they are safe to operate an e-bike. E-bike riding requires even more training and skills. The rider should be mature enough to make safe choices.

More information

Phyllis Agran, MD, FAAP

Phyllis Agran, MD, FAAP, serves on the executive committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention. A recipient of the council’s Fellow Achievement Award in recognition of her commitment to youth violence prevention and pedestrian safety, including her work with the National Safe Routes to School Task Force, Dr. Agran has testified at local, state and national hearings to promote child health and safety policies. She is past president of AAP California Chapter 4 and a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. ​​

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American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright @ 2023)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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