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Special Report: Safety First! Underage e-bike users a growing concern for Bend-La Pine Schools

(Update: adding video)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Lots of students on the High Desert and elsewhere rely on e-bikes and e-scooters to get themselves to school, but now some of them are going to have to find another way to get to campus. 

This week, Bend-La Pine Schools started enforcing new rules that ban students under 16 from using e-bikes or e-scooters.

The new rule aligns with Trenton’s Law in Oregon. It’s named after Trenton Burger, a Bend teen who was killed while riding an e-bike last summer. 

“We did try to do this educationally only at first, But now that the law has changed and we have a little bit more enforcement, I think that's the piece that we are looking at and trying to figure out what's the best way to handle this for our students, especially our younger students.” Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent, Steve Cook said. 

Even with the new law, Bend-La Pine schools have seen a growing number in underage riders. There have also been multiple reports of collisions, including an accident just outside of Pacific Crest Middle School. 

"Kids just around on e-bikes, on sidewalks, going through intersections, not obeying traffic laws. Sometimes they put their friends on the bike with them. So there's two or three kids on a bike. They're not all wearing helmets. So we have had some accidents, unfortunately." Said Pacific Crest Middle School principal, Sean Keating. 

According to Keating, they’ve counted as many as 40 e-bikes and e-scooters on their bike racks. These were all being operated by children under 16. 

Between 2017 and 2022, helmet use has been declining almost 6 percent each year. The number of e-bike riders seeking hospital care for head trauma has gone up, according to a study by JAMA Surgery.

“We've seen a lot of information coming back to us from phone calls and emails and reports from bus drivers saying, hey, we're observing this really dangerous behavior." said Keating. 

If a student brings their e-bike or e-scooter to campus, they will get a warning and a phone call to parents. If it happens again, it will be held at the school to only be released to a parent or guardian. 

"We don't have any interested in taking people's e-bikes away from them, but we do want to make sure that we're following the law." Cook said. 

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Jillian Fortner

Jillian Fortner is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jillian here.


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