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By C. Jayden Smith
As dialogue between the local community and elected officials continues over the increased use of e-bikes and safety concerns, a San Clemente company is looking to educate parents and cyclists.
In a social media post this month, Epic Power Bikes – led by Marcus Schiro with the help of his father, Marcel – announced plans to hold an “orientation class”. The Schiros said they hope to hold the course in October and they asked for support from the San Clemente City Council at its Sept. 20 meeting.
“At Epic Power Bikes, we are acutely aware of the need for education and information regarding the responsibilities of the e-bike community,” Marcel said on Facebook. “Little has been done to raise awareness of these issues, other than complaints and frustrations.”
He added that the program would be comprehensive and encouraged cyclists, parents and community members to participate.
Marcus Schiro said San Clemente Hours on Tuesday, September 27, that the class would be directed to minors or children aged 12 to 18. The 60-90 minute course would be divided into topics such as the different classes of e-bikes, general safety and rules of the road.
Upon completion, those who complete the $10 course will receive a Certificate of Completion from Epic Power Bikes. Schiro said he also hopes to gain support from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, local schools and San Clemente council members, whom they will present to at the Oct. 11 and Dec. 13 meetings.
“It doesn’t matter if somebody comes on board, we’re going to do it anyway, and we’re going to promote it through (the company),” Schiro said.
Schiro added that e-bike safety for him means that teenagers using e-bikes in the city are properly informed of traffic rules and guidelines.
“These kids need to be educated in the basic rules of the road, how they should ride, where they should ride,” he said, adding, “They just need a good comprehensive lesson on the laws, what is acceptable and what is not, and how to be respectful of everyone else on the road.
The emergence of electric motorcycles, such as the Zero DS, is giving the e-bike community a bad name, Schiro said, noting that many people cannot distinguish between the two modes of transportation.
He said parents should be aware that electric motorcycles were not allowed on the street and cited numerous examples of children performing tricks with them near Avenida Del Mar.
E-bike sellers have a big responsibility in the buying process, as Schiro said most parents don’t raise safety concerns. There are times when parents try to buy a bike that is too big for their child, which Epic Power Bikes does not allow.
“That’s another reason why we want to do the safety classes,” Schiro said. “Not just kids, but everyone needs to be educated about e-bikes in general.”
They said they hope to answer questions such as which bike is suitable for a potential rider or whether to set speed limits on the bikes themselves. They also seek to promote their belief that parents should have a certain level of concern before their children hit the road.
As more and more people determine that it would be best for them to go to the stores and test drive a bike before buying one, Schiro said in-person interactions allow them to be part of the process and to help determine the size. He added that he was in favor of the obligation to carry out tests to buy a bicycle.
Although Epic Power Bike’s online sales represent a smaller proportion compared to in-person purchases, staff conceptualized the possibility of making a safety and rules of the road video that customers should watch as part of of the purchase.
“There are a lot of things we’re working on to promote more safety,” Schiro said.
He said parents of children under 18 bear the greatest responsibility for the safety of cyclists and e-bike riders on the road. And those over 18, Schiro added, should also know the laws and their rights as a rider.
A common refrain that Schiro wants to dispel is the belief that e-bike scares and incidents in the city are caused by “entitled kids and rich parents” buying bikes for their kids.
“We offer financing, and a lot of these other e-bike companies also offer financing, so that’s not really the case,” he said. “There are all the different (economy class) families buying bikes for these kids, and a lot of it is to get the kids to school or around town when the parents have to be at work.”
Schiro maintained the overwhelming net positive of e-bikes in society, saying they aren’t going anywhere. He also listed the benefits of getting the kids outside, exercising and having a positive impact on the environment.
As for additional measures, the city requiring all minors to take a course or receive certification with proof of completion attached to their e-bikes would be beneficial, according to Schiro, even though children may not have the best behavior. .
“If they’re going to be rude, they’re going to be rude, and it doesn’t matter what kind of license they have,” he said. “At least that way they’ve been there, they know what’s right, they know what’s wrong.”
He added that a mandatory curriculum would also help schools hold children accountable for any wrongdoing. Although Schiro disagreed with the city’s ban on e-bikes on the Beach Trail, he felt that the speed limits imposed there and around San Clemente would be helpful, in addition to the license plates that could help law enforcement locate stolen bikes.
Epic Power Bikes’ class won’t involve cooperation with other local vendors yet, but Schiro hasn’t objected to collaboration between the companies or between them and the city.
“I have a few friends who own businesses in town and I can pretty much guarantee they’ll be in on it,” he said. “I think it’s a good idea, but it’s something I felt like directing and getting the ball rolling.”
For updates or more orientation information, visit epicpowerbikes.com or the company’s Facebook page.
C. Jayden Smith
C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism at the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothers his black lab named Shadow.
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