A Pacific Palisades girl was killed in an electric bike crash. Her parents see greater danger

Enchanted Way is a side street in the Pacific Palisades with breathtaking views of the ocean spreading below.

But since their 12-year-old daughter died in a neighborhood e-bike crash a year and a half ago, Jonathan and Kaye Steinsapir have avoided the majestic road near their home.

The couple filed a lawsuit this week against Rad Power Bikes, the burgeoning company whose Molly Steinsapir product was walking down the steep hill Enchanted Way with a friend on January 31, 2021. Steinsapir’s friend tried tried to brake as they slowed, but the bike didn’t stop, and instead the girls lost control and were thrown onto the concrete, where Molly lay face down, unresponsive, her helmet still also, according to the lawsuit.

“I used to walk there. I haven’t been there since,” said Jonathan Steinsapir, 44. “It’s a really beautiful street with a beautiful view of the ocean. That’s why the girls rode up there that day. I don’t know if I avoided it at first. I see it now because it’s taking on more and more meaning, not that the word has gone away.”

Kaye, 44, added: “I can’t imagine ever going back to Enchanted Way again. “I can’t even reach that area.”

Rad Power Bikes declined to comment on the lawsuit and on questions about how to ensure children do not use adult products.

“The entire Rad Power Bikes team sends their deepest condolences to the Steinsapir family for the tragic loss of Molly Steinsapir,” Brandie Gonzales, a spokeswoman for Rad Power Bikes, said in a statement.

They were at home a few blocks away when a neighbor called and told them that Molly had been in an accident.

Molly Steinsapir, center, with her parents and two younger brothers

Molly Steinsapir, center, who died in an e-bike accident at age 12, along with her parents, Jonathan and Kaye Steinsapir, and her two younger brothers, Nathaniel and Eli.

(Family Steinsapir)

As they got out of their driveway, an ambulance sped past, and they followed it to the scene. The couple said they got into an argument while driving to Enchanted Way, with Jonathan trying to convince Kaye that their daughter may have just broken a bone.

The Steinsapirs, with two sons, Eli and Nathaniel, have lost their daughter. Molly died in the hospital a few weeks later after some brain surgery. She never woke up. Now, Molly lives in a mural painted in May decorating the Pierson Playhouse, a theater in the Pacific Palisades, where she acted in plays like “Guys and Dolls” and “Peter Pan.”

Time passed and the Steinsapirs’ fog of mourning had thickened. They are now targeting the larger issue of e-bike safety for kids, and especially at the Seattle-based company where Molly is riding e-bikes.

The use of e-bikes and scooters has surged nationally and in Los Angeles. Rad Power Bikes alone boasts nearly 500,000 riders of their e-bikes and it’s one of the big manufacturers.

As usage has skyrocketed, so have injuries across the country. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission found a steady 70 percent increase in injuries on e-scooters, e-bikes, and skateboards between 2017 and 2020. The commission reported 71 deaths nationwide during that period.

Overall cyclist safety has become a major issue in cities across the country, with activists demanding the government do more to protect them from cars. Los Angeles has responded with more bike lanes and some guard lanes, but critics say that’s not enough.

As more and more kids use e-bikes, some communities have taken notice. Laguna Beach, for example, launched an education program aimed at teenagers after officials noticed children speeding in town.

E-bike enthusiasts argue that the machines are safe if used correctly.

But Steinsapirs felt it was not enough to protect children.

“Rad Power Bikes is simply turning a blind eye to the fact that kids under 16, under 18 are using their products across the country,” said Jonathan. “They admit it’s inappropriate, but they’ve shown us that they’re not willing to do anything about it.”

The lawsuit notes that Rad Power Bikes — the largest e-bike company in North America that offers certain types of e-bikes with passenger seats — bury the fact that its RadRunner bikes don’t should be operated by persons under 18 years of age. buyer’s manual. Warnings are listed on page 49 of 57.

Molly Steinsapir, center, with her two younger brothers, Nathaniel and Eli

Molly Steinsapir, center, with her two brothers, Nathaniel and Eli.

(Jonathan Steinsapir)

“Bring your kids,” website Rad Power Bikes suggests to parents along with a photo of a child sitting on the back seat of an e-bike with an adult.

While the company mainly posts photos of children in the back seat, an Instagram photo from 2020 shows a young boy sitting in the front seat on a bicycle alone. When a commenter suggested in the comments that the company makes “sub-sized rads,” the company replied, “Or one rad-sized.”

The Rad Power Bikes website also features numerous reviews from parents who have advertised that their kids, as young as 10, ride their RadRunner e-bikes without an adult.

One man wrote: “It can accommodate my 10 and 12 year old daughters as they walk the very steep dirt road to my house.

That is exactly the point, argues Steinsapirs.

“Part of their appeal is that they take you to places you wouldn’t normally be able to, including uphill sections,” said Olivier Taillieu, the attorney who filed the lawsuit against Steinsapirs.

Molly and her friend rode all the way up the Enchanted Way and lost control of the e-bike when they accelerated again.

Teenage use of e-bikes has been a problem since e-bikes and electric scooters hit the streets. While companies like Lime and Bird require riders to be 18 and have to upload a driver’s license to rent an e-scooter, kids can break the rules by using their accounts. parents.

Experts say teenage riding isn’t necessarily a problem.

“Older adolescents, while technically still minors, may have responsibilities outside the family such as,” said Sarah Kaufman, executive professor of New York University’s Rudin Center. after-school work or taking care of a loved one or other responsibilities that require them to move around. Transport. “E-bikes can be especially useful for people who are commuting from school to work and then home.”

However, Kaufman added that high-speed e-bikes can be very dangerous for young people like Molly, and a sticker on the bike noting it’s for adults only could help prevent kids from riding. .

“You have a dangerous product being operated by children,” says Taillieu.

A mural dedicated to Molly Steinsapir

A mural dedicated to Molly Steinsapir.

(Wesley Lapointe / Los Angeles Times)

The Steinsapirs suit also alleges possible mechanical problems with the RadRunner bikes, stating that the machine’s “disc brakes” and “quick release” front wheel mechanism are “an industry-known safety hazard.” “

Trek Bicycle Corp. recalled 1 million bicycles due to disc brake failure in 2015 after 3 riders were injured – 1 was paralyzed.

The lawsuit alleges that the brake configuration on the RadRunner caused the e-bike to “wobble” and shake when Molly’s friend pressed the front parking brake.

“I miss my daughter more than anything… They say losing her is like the worst thing that can happen to you and all I can say is the truth. We went on but it was very difficult.”

– Jonathan Steinsapir

Karissa Marsh said her 11-year-old son Rhett was unharmed on July 7 when the front wheel of the RadRunner he was riding in Manhattan Beach separated from the bike, causing him to overturn over the handlebars. . Marsh said.

She added: “The bike really just fell apart.

But the company took no responsibility for the incident and blamed the Marshes, she said. Rad Power Bikes did not immediately respond to questions about Rhett’s crash.

“Rad needs to be held accountable,” Marsh said. “Don’t blame others.”

In another incident in 2019, Jennifer Fitzpatrick, a Coto de Caza resident, was involved in an accident after she failed to slow down her rented Rad e-bike as she sped down a hill at the Resort. at Pelican Hill, she claimed in a lawsuit. Fitzpatrick, now 57 years old, tried to de-energize the bike but failed and was thrown from the bike, leaving onlookers concussion and briefly unconscious despite wearing a helmet, a lawsuit filed last year in Orange County claims.

“She kept pressing the button, but [e-bike’s] the motor continuously fails to turn off and [e-bike] continued to accelerate, leaving her unable to slow down,” the suit said.

“It was a horrible accident and for a split second I was like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s Jennifer,'” her husband, Daniel Fitzpatrick, 64, said. riding an electric bike, I just imagine if right now when I was looking at them the bike overturned and they crashed. “

Rad Power Bikes argued in response to the lawsuit that Jennifer Fitzpatrick “obviously never used the brakes of an electric bike”.

Daniel Fitzpatrick said he wasn’t sure if his wife hit the brakes.

“Riding a bicycle, electric, motor or other vehicle is clearly a recreational activity with inherent risks of harm that cannot be removed from the activity without altering the fundamental nature of the activity. . Falling off a bike is an inherent risk when riding a bike,” wrote Rad Power Bikes attorneys in court papers in the Fitzpatrick case.

Fitzpatricks’ product liability and negligence lawsuit will be brought before a grand jury next year.

“Our experience has not been isolated,” says Kaye Steinsapir.

“I miss my daughter more than anything. … They say losing a child is like the worst thing that can happen to you and all I can say is that’s true,” said Jonathan Steinsapir. very difficult.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-05/e-bike-crash-death-daughter-manufacturer-to-blame-rad-power-bikes A Pacific Palisades girl was killed in an electric bike crash. Her parents see greater danger

Edmund DeMarche

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