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Bend Police launch e-bike safety awareness campaign ahead of busy summer

(Update: Adding video, info from Bend Police, mobility company Bird)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Bend Police Department is launching an e-bike safety awareness campaign over a total of 10 days this month to promote enforcement of e-bike laws and rules of the road.

The campaign comes at the start of summer, when Bend sees an influx of tourists, and will stress the basics about e-bikes, safe e-bike riding and the importance of children following the rules of the road while riding an e-bike, or other bikes as well.

Bend PD Communications Manager Sheila Miller told us Thursday, "Were starting out with education, right? Because we want people to play by the rules."

The city of Bend and Bird Company are in the second year of a 2-year e-bike share program, with 250 e-bikes to be available in the area in the coming months, 50 more than last year.

Bend resident and Getty Images photographer Buddy Mays approached the same Bird bike I did in the Old Mill District. I asked him his thoughts on the electric bike's popularity.

"I really do think they make sense for Bend," he said. "I think they make sense for anywhere, to tell you the truth -- as long as people are careful and the drivers are halfway decent. And in Bend, the drivers seem to take care when around bikes.

"So yeah, I think they are a great idea. I think more people should ride them, I hope they do."

Bird does have in-app messages to promote safety that pop up when you unlock one of their vehicles.

I spoke with Bird Northwest Senior Manager of Government Partnerships T.J. Birkel about what precautions the company provides to riders before they take a trip.

"To go for a ride, we do have some in-app messaging and prompts that outline safe-riding behavior, proper parking behavior and also encourages people to wear a helmet," Birkel said. "So safety is very important to us."

The police department wants to discourage teenagers under the age of 16 from using the e-bikes, and reminds riders not to ride against traffic.

"Our officers are going to conduct an enforcement detail," Miller explained. "So we're going to use our limited resources we have to try to encourage people to understand the rules."

And the e-bikes are definitely popular here. In the Bend area, Bird recorded more than 20,000 trips last year.

Birkel feels with the increase of e-bikes on roads, and drivers adjusting more to them, the likelihood of an incident is dwindling.

"I think as that's happened, you're seeing less of these incidents of people trying to be knuckleheads and doing the wrong thing with one of the scooters," Birkel said.

Bird did confirm that they plan on discussing future plans with the city to expand the bike-share program past this year.

Here's Bend PD's initial Facebook post promoting their safety campaign:

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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