By GIO BENITEZ, MINA KAJI and SAM SWEENEY, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Simon Cowell’s electric bike accident over the weekend has renewed e-bike safety concerns as sales soar across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The America’s Got Talent judge was recovering in the hospital Sunday after breaking his back in several places, according to his representative.
The fall occurred on Saturday while Cowell was testing his new e-bike in the courtyard of his home in Malibu with his family, the spokesperson explained to ABC News.
“If you buy an electric trail bike, read the manual before you ride it for the first time,” Cowell tweeted Sunday night, sharing “a massive thank you” to all the nurses and doctors that took care of him.
Cowell’s accident comes as e-bike sales have skyrocketed. One Phoenix-based company has had to increase production after seeing an over 140% growth in sales since quarantine measures were announced.
“People want to get outside,” CEO of Lectric eBikes Levi Conlow said. “They’ve been locked up inside and they want to get out there and they want to go explore their communities. And that’s just one layer of it — another layer is people are not eager to use public transportation anytime soon.”
Many of these sales represent new, first time e-bike riders.
“Crashes can happen often in the first or second ride,” Executive Director at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association Greg Billing said.
E-bikes have a motor and often have more power than a normal bike.
One recent study reported e-bikes carry a higher risk of severe injuries compared to traditional bicycles or scooters.
Researchers analyzed hospital data from 2000 to 2017 by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and found that people riding powered bikes were more likely to suffer internal injuries and be hospitalized.
Billing, who teaches a class for first time e-bike riders in Washington, D.C., recommends having a checklist before getting on a powered bike — check the air pressure, the brakes and the chains.
“It is a different skill than just riding a bike,” Billing told ABC News. “Which is why we encourage people when they are starting to use e-bikes to really practice and understand how to handle the power of the bike and make sure that they feel comfortable before they get out on the road or on a trail around other people or cars.”
Conlow emphasized the importance of riders wearing a helmet.
“You know you’re way more safe that way,” he said. “Ride within your ability as well and definitely take the time to get comfortable with the bike and read your owner’s manual.”
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