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By C. Jayden Smith

As dialogue among the local community and elected officials continues over the increased usage of electric bicycles and safety-related concerns, one San Clemente business is looking to educate parents and riders.

In a social media post this month, Epic Power Bikes—run 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 class in October, and they sought support from the San Clemente City Council at its Sept. 20 meeting.

“We at Epic Power Bikes (are) keenly aware of the need for education and information regarding responsibilities of the e-biker community,” Marcel said on Facebook. “Little has been done to bring personal awareness to these issues, other than complaints and frustrations.”

He added that the program would be comprehensive and encouraged cyclists, parents, and community members to attend.

Marcus Schiro told San Clemente Times on Tuesday, Sept. 27, that the class would be directed toward minors, or children aged 12-18. The 60- to 90-minute course would be broken into topics such as the varying classes of e-bikes, general safety and rules of the road.

Once complete, those who take the $10 course would receive a certificate of completion from Epic Power Bikes. Schiro said he hopes to also get the support of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, local schools, and the San Clemente councilmembers, to whom they’ll present at the Oct. 11 and Dec. 13 meetings.

“Regardless of if anybody gets on board, we’re going to do it anyway, and we’re going to promote it through (the business),” Schiro said.

Schiro added that e-bike safety to him means teens using e-bikes around town are properly educated on traffic rules and guidelines.

“These kids need some education on basic rules of the road, how they should be riding their bike, where they should be riding their bike,” he said, adding: “They just need a good all-around lesson on the laws, what’s acceptable and what’s not, and how to be respectful of everybody else on the road.”

The emergence of electric motorcycles, such as the Zero DS, give the e-bike community a bad reputation, Schiro said, noting that many people cannot distinguish between the two modes of transportation.

He said parents need to know the electric motorcycles are not street-legal and cited numerous instances of children performing tricks with them near Avenida Del Mar.

E-bike sellers have a significant responsibility within the purchasing process, as Schiro said most parents do not raise safety concerns. There are times when parents will 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,” said Schiro. “Not only the children, but everybody needs to be educated on e-bikes in general.”

They said they hope to answer questions that include what bike fits a prospective rider or whether to set speed limits on the bikes themselves. They also look to promote their belief that parents should have some level of concern before their children get on the road.

As more people determine that it would be best for them to go into stores and test ride a bike before buying one, Schiro said that in-person interactions allow them to be a part of the process and help figure out the sizing. He added that he favors test rides being required to buy a bike.

Although Epic Power Bike’s online sales account for a smaller proportion relative to in-person purchases, the staff have conceptualized potentially making a video about safety and rules of the road that customers would have to watch as part of the purchase.

“There’s a lot of things that we’re working on to promote more safety,” Schiro said.

He said that parents with children younger than 18 shoulder the most responsibility in terms of ensuring safety for both e-bike riders and drivers on the road. And those who are older than 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-related scares and incidents around town are caused by “entitled kids and rich parents” buying their children bikes.

“We offer financing, and a lot of these other e-bike companies also offer financing, and so that’s not really the case,” he said. “There’s all different (economic classes of) families that are buying bikes for these kids, and a lot of it is to get the kids to school or get them around town when the parents have to be at work.”

Schiro maintained the overwhelming net positive of e-bikes in society, saying they are not going anywhere. He also listed the benefits of getting children outside, people getting to exercise, and a positive impact on the environment.

Regarding further action, the city requiring all minors take a class or receive a 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 permit they have,” he said. “At least this way, they’ve gone through it, they know what’s right, they know what’s wrong.”

He added that a mandatory program 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 speed limits placed there and around San Clemente would be helpful, in addition to license plates that could aid Police Services in locating stolen bikes.

Epic Power Bikes’ class will not involve cooperation with other local sellers as of yet, but Schiro did not oppose collaboration between businesses or between them and the city.

“I have a couple of friends that own businesses in town that I can pretty much guarantee that they’d be on board,” he said. “I think that it’s a good idea, but this is something that I felt like I wanted to spearhead and get the ball rolling on.”

For updates or more information on orientation, visit epicpowerbikes.com or the business’ 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 from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.

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