E-Bikes Have the Speed for Quick Escape
Recently, my wife and I bought electric bikes or e-bikes to help with our aerobic exercise routine and cardiovascular fitness. Being seniors we are not as active as we want and cannot participate in our usual full-contact ice hockey like we did last year to keep us in shape. I wish.
One concern we thought about was can we defend ourselves when on our bikes if we are attacked?
Our class 3, 8-speed e-bikes can travel up to about 28 miles per hour with five pedal-assist levels, to 20 mph by the only throttle, and have a range on a single charge from a rechargeable 48-volt lithium battery of about 50 miles. This e-bike speed is much faster and has very quick acceleration than folks who cycle on a regular mechanical bike and allows us to quickly move away from a lot of dangers, as well as to expand the distance we travel to visit sights while contributing to a green environment, and it is exercise too. The e-bikes with hydraulic disc brakes and fork suspension system are street legal, don’t require a Florida license or registration for us to operate, have a 750-watt motor, a speedometer, and two trip sets.
So e-bikes immediately get you to the direction you want to move and to your destination quickly and most can go a longer distance with much less effort than a regular bicycle. The e-bike pedal-assist feature provides an instant boost and is like someone suddenly shoving you from behind giving you more power. Great for seniors with weak knees and health issues and is a mind-comforting security aid as well. You can choose to use the pedal-assist at 5 different levels or not at all for the level of exercise you want. And the throttle really helps you raise your speed to climb a very steep hill without even pedaling at all. But, do not get lazy and use these power features a lot, unless you truly need them for safety and security. E-bikes offer low-cost, energy-efficient, and emission-free transportation with physical, health, and recreational benefits, without a license plate and gasoline, while helping counter rising air pollution and helping keep you secure.
Safety, Security, and Dangers When Biking
With all things, there are comforts and concerns. Of course, safety and security are always the main concerns when carrying a handgun for self-defense, especially if you are on a bicycle, motorcycle, or e-bike. So our biking “safety” entails preventative protection from harm and crime avoidance. And biking “security” means protection from intentional harm from other humans’ actions. The concerns we have when biking are using the proper safety gear and our personal security self-defense against others when we ride off-rode or over rough terrain to explore some unknown and possibly dangerous areas or even when city biking.
The first safety thing we did was buy proper safety helmets for our biking adventures and always use them. Then we bought powerful front and rear lights to go with our reflectors, a loud electric horn with a theft alarm, a sturdy mirror, and a rear attachable bag for one e-bike to carry essentials. We decided on carrying concealed a security weapon for personal protection and that will be addressed later in this article. Of course, we will avoid dangerous areas and possible physical harm there from both humans and animals by not traveling to certain locations. But, the excitement of exploring unknown locations and encountering unrecognizable risks must be blended with safety and security concerns and the challenge of discovering new and interesting places. And wherever we are, we must be protected from criminals and be prepared just in case for deadly-force attackers. Sadly, there is both good and evil in our world today and our security and safety are of paramount importance. However, we do not carry an AR-15, AK-47, or defensive rifle on our e-bikes.
Dangers & Defenses When Biking
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted a bicycle renaissance in the U.S. with about a 26% increase in bike activity for 2020 alone. But with that comes more cyclist deaths and about a 35% increase in them, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. When riding our e-bikes we know the dangers of road rage and some drivers using their vehicles to even attack bikers. Sadly, some vehicle drivers go out of their way to attack bike riders, for whatever reason. Some drivers feel intimidated by the fast-moving bikes or even technology. Just last week in Orlando, a 69-year-old man driving a truck was upset because a cyclist passed him. The driver slowed down and followed the biker. Then the driver got out and physically, severely attacked the young biker in an emotional road-rage incident. You just never know what may happen anytime you are in public on an e-bike, in any vehicle, or just outside minding your own business.
Carrying a Concealed Weapon on a Bike
A high number of bicyclists are injured and/or killed when riding their bikes at dusk and at night, for whatever reason. A loud horn, front and rear lights, and a helmet as a minimum are mandatory on an e-bike. But what about carrying a concealed weapon when on your bike. Of course, avoid riding bikes at dusk and at night, but you still may be in danger on a bike. For example, in February 2021 a 54-year-old bicyclist was riding his bike on Parkside Avenue in Brooklyn, NY and he suddenly was attacked and beaten with a bat by a stranger. Authorities say it was another random and unprovoked attack of innocent bikers.
Animal Attacks of Bikers
Of course, bikers are regularly attacked by aggressive dogs, even in what are usually safe and friendly neighborhoods. With e-bikes and off-road mountain ones in particular, when you are traveling for fun in the back country-wilderness, there are inherent dangers. You may be in a remote location without cell-phone communication or first-aid help and encounter a deranged deadly-force attacker or wild animal when biking. Wild carnivores and animals attack humans. I just read of bikers attacked by a mountain lion in Colorado, two bikers attacked in Washington by a cougar, a grizzly bear attacking an e-biker in Montana, a black bear attacking bikers and campers in California, and in Florida, and a coyote attacking a biker in North Carolina.
Here is one sad incident. Two bicyclists on mountain bikes were riding a trail in Washington. They were surprised by a stalking cougar attack in the Cascade Mountain foothills near Seattle when riding a trail. As one rider who was attacked pedaled quickly away, he looked back to see his friend another biker being dragged by his head into the trees by the cougar. The surviving cyclist rode for several miles before he could get a cellphone signal to call 911. Such a terrible tragedy and we must be prepared just in case to defend our lives. Certainly, if the cyclists were equipped with handguns, it would have helped even the odds and, probably, their survival.
Defenses When On Your E-Bike
An e-bike and its special features and characteristics offer several inherent advantages for personal protection. Here are some defenses to use when biking:
- SPEED – An e-bike can go fast and speed up quickly with its pedal-assist features. I learned quickly that if I am pedaling along and a dog chases me and runs right up to my ankles, I can quickly punch the pedal-assist lever to “2” and zip away quickly to avoid getting bit. The speed could also help me get away from a human attacker.
- MANEUVERABILITY – I can use the pedal-assist feature of my e-bike to help me gain or reduce the speed I need at any given time or in any situation when pedaling, thus helping me control and maneuver my e-bike for safety. I can avoid trouble situations by quickly moving around or away from them. I can quickly get to the bicycle lane from an intersection, rapidly start off from a dead stop to get away from the intersection dangers, or flexibly move and adjust around threats. I can maneuver to sidewalks to escape vehicle attacks on roadways.
- BIKE AS PROTECTIVE SHIELD – To quickly give yourself distance between yourself and the bad guy or gal, use your bike as a barrier or shield. Just place the e-bike between you and the attacker, so they cannot grab you, get close enough to knife you, or attack.
- WEAPON – Use your e-bike as a weapon and/or to gain yourself time to draw your handgun or acquire your hammer or other weapon. Simply raise up the front tire, pull it toward you, and then thrust it forward or throw it at the attacker. Some regular bikes are heavier than others, so practice this before you try it. It may not work for certain heavy e-bikes. Also, it is important to stop and get off your e-bike before you go for your handgun, draw your gun, or acquire your weapon. This way you can focus solely on a proper draw or weapon acquisition and its application without fumbling… and avoid a possible wreck or dropping your gun or weapon.
- LOUD ELECTRIC HORN – E-bikes can be equipped with very loud electric horns of all types and sounds. I bought a model that has a 120-decibels loud car-horn sound that gets the attention of vehicle drivers, other drivers, and pedestrians. While it is not a 150-decibel big-truck air horn, it gets your attention. I used to use horns with soft, minimal bell-like sounds, but noticed others did not respond to them and possibly could not even hear their soft sounds. Now I use sleek, solidly-constructed loud electric horns that can definitely be heard. The first time I used my horn at a pedestrian walking in front of me in the middle of the street, I startled her, saw her shoulders flinch, she gave me a very stern look, and showed me her digitus medius middle metacarpal. At least, it quickly got her attention and she moved to the side. These e-bike horns come in various loud sounds, like sirens, trains, trumpets, or Dixie sound, but I just chose the loud car-horn sound.
- LIGHT – Use your front LED light with high Lumens brightness (about 200 lumens) and its strobe light to disorient and temporarily blind the attacker and give you time to escape.
- OTHER BIKE EQUIPMENT AS WEAPONS OPTIONS. Other usual equipment and accessories found on an e-bike that can be used as weapons include:
- Metal Chain and D-Lock
- Bike Helmet
- Aluminum Water Bottle
Self-Defense Legal Considerations When Biking
It is important to know your state’s law about open carry and all laws affecting your handgun and carrying it. My home state of Florida does not allow public open carry of a handgun, including on a bike. As of July 2021 there are five states that do not allow public open carry of a handgun: Florida, California, New York, Illinois, and South Carolina. Effective August 16, 2021, there will be only four states that do not allow public open carry, since the South Carolina law allowing public open carry will be effective. So, one cannot open carry a handgun on an e-bike in these four states; it must be concealed. And in most states with a concealed carry license or permit being readily available with it. I believe that those carrying a concealed handgun on an e-bike must follow certain guidelines to do so, similar to regular concealed carry by those in public and not riding a bike.
E-Bike and Bicycles Are Not Conveyances in Florida
In Florida, a bicycle or e-bike is not a conveyance, per Florida Statute 790.25. Check your particular state laws about this. In Florida, a conveyance includes “any motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle or car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car….” It is my understanding as a non-legal layman that bicycles and other self-propelled forms of transportation are excluded. So, even if your e-bike or bicycle has an interior compartment space, you cannot carry a firearm while riding in my home state of Florida, if you do not have a valid Concealed Weapon Florida license.
Guidelines for Carrying on an E-Bike
Here are the author’s guidelines for e-bike carry of a weapon:
- NO PRINTING – Take care that your cover garment does not blow up when biking to expose your handgun. Select the optimal method of carrying a concealed handgun when on a bike that avoids printing or does not lend itself to easy printing. Below I will present some options.
- NO EXTREME OR RADICAL CHANGES IN USUAL CARRY WEAPON & ROUTINE – I do not want to change my primary or secondary carry handgun nor my usual carry routine and practices just for the sake of carrying my concealed handgun when riding my e-bike. I am very familiar with the handling and operations of my handguns I regularly use and want consistency and reliability. So I want to use my primary everyday carry gun that I thoroughly know when riding my e-bike. I’ll just need a better and safer way of carrying it on my e-bike. I will give my suggestions below.
- NO EXTREME OR RADICAL CHANGES IN MY COVER GARMENT OR CLOTHES – I do not want to wear a special or different cover garment or change my usual clothes I wear in the warm, humid climate when carrying. I want to wear comfortable, cool, moisture-wicking clothes when carrying on my e-bike. Although I want to be easily seen when riding my e-bike, I do not want to wear wild print designs with patterns and shirts or jersies which can cause someone to recognize my carry gun.
- SELECT THE QUICKEST-ACCESS CARRY OPTION FOR AN E-BIKE
- Here are some of the best weapon carry options the author likes when biking. He particularly likes the Tactical Chest Pack Carry for quick access to his 9mm pistol (with 3.7″ barrel, 12 capacity, and 21-ounce weight) as his primary option, with the Hammer option as backup, on-bike carry. The Fanny Pack is also a fine option for bike carry but does not hold as much as the Chest Pack, which is also easier to quickly access. These will not interfere with pedaling. It is important to not leave any weapon on the e-bike when you make a stop and get off the bike. Note that some of the below options may require too much clothing for your climate and for practicality. Whichever options you choose, be certain to frequently practice with them.
- Outside-the-Waistband at 5 o’clock position
- Carry Shirt with cover garment
- Shoulder holster with cover garment
- Pocket carry in deep cargo-shorts pocket
- Fanny Pack
- Tactical Chest Pack or Bag
- On-Bike Weapon Carry
- Handlebar Carry in custom bag
- Standard Frame Bag or Pouch
- Rear-Bag Carry with easy access
- Hammer strapped to e-bike & readily available for quick access
E-bikes are being used more and more for aerobic exercise and cardiovascular fitness.
The author and his wife as Seniors recognize the health and social benefits of biking to improve cognitive functions, health, and well-being in older adults. Of course, they also want to use the proper safety gear and personal self-defense protection when riding their bikes. There are several dangers, including road rage and records of aggressive drivers using vehicles to attack bikers. Wild animals are also known to attack bike riders and precautions must be taken for not only attacks by deranged human attackers, but also for dogs and wild animal attacks. Everyone should be prepared for personal protection just in case a situation requires it, including those who ride e-bikes. In this article, I offered my seven defenses when carrying on an e-bike, my four guidelines for carrying weapons on an e-bike, some legal considerations when on a bike, and my recommendation for using a Tactical Chest Bag when biking, among others. I hope my ideas are food for thought and help you.
Be Safe and Continued Success!
Photos by author.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2021 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.