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Ebikes & Schools: How Districts Are Addressing The New Trend

Updated: May 21

Ebikes have become a common mode of transportation getting teens and tweens to and from school. While ebikes bring some welcomed benefits—like reduced traffic congestion—they also bring real safety concerns. This leaves administrators asking: What can schools do about ebikes to ensure the safety of all students, parents, and staff?

 

Why teens need ebike education

As electric bike use soars among middle and high school students, so do safety concerns. Most states have little to no restrictions on who can drive ebikes, and within this younger demographic of ebikers, most have never taken driver's ed and simply don’t know the rules of the road. 


Why schools are getting involved with ebikes 

Teenagers are unlikely to seek out safety training on their own. And when a course is provided to them, unless it’s required, most will not complete it. That’s where schools come in. Schools are in a unique position to incentivize teens by mandating they complete an ebike safety course in order to bring their ebikes on campus. 


How schools are establishing ebike safety programs

Many districts have adopted ebike policies that require some combination of

  • Application form to be reviewed by district staff

  • Student and parent signatures agreeing to the school’s ebike policy

  • Successful completion of an ebike safety certification course


Fulfilling these requirements earns students the privilege of bringing their ebike on campus.  



How districts are managing an ebike safety course requirement

The ebike safety course is truly at the heart of these ebike policies. 


Where are districts getting ebike safety courses from? 

Districts are not creating the courses themselves but instead using online and in-person classes that were created by 

  • cycling and safety experts, ebike enthusiasts, educators

  • local government or police departments

  • bicycle safety groups and coalitions 



Are courses online or in-person? 

Some districts use just one or the other, but we most commonly see districts offering both as options to families. 


A district may have an approved list of two or three courses, some online and others in-person, that students can take to fulfill their ebike safety certification. 


Online courses have the benefit of flexibility. Students can take them at their own pace and fit the course into their busy schedule. 


Who pays for the ebike course? 

Some school districts shoulder the entire cost of the courses, others ask parents or guardians to pay for them, and sometimes it’s a hybrid. 


For example, a school may offer one live training session at the start of the school year that’s free to students. If a student cannot attend or wants to earn ebike privileges at another time during the year, the student will need to pay for and complete a course that’s been vetted and approved by the district. 

 

Regardless of who foots the bill, school districts will likely get bulk pricing discounts to help offset the cost.  


How do schools track course completions? 

Students can submit certificates of completion, which invites some potential for fraud and can be a bit messy, with some students submitting paper certificates, others sending a photo of their paper certificate, and others sharing a digital copy.   


A cleaner, more manageable option for districts is to have the course provider submit certificates (or simply student names who have earned a certificate) directly to the staff member in charge of the ebike program. 


What should schools look for when selecting an ebike safety course?

  • A curriculum that covers all of the critical safety aspects and includes tests and quizzes.


  • Reasonable pricing. Free, high-quality courses are unicorns, but affordable courses exist, especially when course providers offer school district discounts.


  • A provider that takes over administrative tasks for you, like course registration, student support, issuing certificates of completion, and even distributing parking stickers. 



How districts identify which students have earned the right to park on campus

The most popular method is stickers placed on ebikes. Once a student meets the requirements to park on campus, the school issues a sticker to be placed in a conspicuous spot on their ebike. Without a sticker, the ebike is banned from campus. 


If a student gets a new ebike, they must bring the old sticker in and trade it for a new one. 


It’s not a perfect system. A student who hasn’t met the ebike safety requirements could borrow an ebike with a sticker. But perfect systems are rare. 


Another option could be stickers on student IDs, but stopping to show an ID before entering campus could create a bottleneck. 


How ebike policies are enforced

If using the sticker method, a school may position a staff member at each entrance to look for a sticker before allowing an ebike onto campus. This method is easier to do at smaller schools. Policing the policy is likely the most labor-intensive task for district staff.  


Next steps for establishing your school’s ebike safety program



  • Determine how your district will enforce the new ebike policy and requirement, e.g., a sticker program.


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