A girl from Pacific Palisades has been killed in an e-bike accident. His parents see greater danger

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Enchanted Way is a small street in the Pacific Palisades with stunning views of the ocean stretching below.

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

The pair filed suit this week against Rad Power Bikes, the booming company whose product Molly Steinsapir was riding down the steep Enchanted Way hill with a friend on January 31, 2021. Steinsapir’s friend tried to brake as ‘they were speeding down the descent, but the bike wouldn’t stop, and instead the girls lost control and were thrown onto the concrete, where Molly lay face down, unresponsive, her helmet still in place, according to the lawsuit.

“I used to walk there. I haven’t been there since,” said Jonathan Steinsapir, 44. “It’s a very nice street with beautiful views of the ocean. That’s why the girls went up there that day. I don’t know if I avoided it at first. Now I kind of have it because it makes more and more sense without having been there since.

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

Rad Power Bikes declined to comment on the lawsuit and questions about how it ensures children don’t use its adult-targeted products.

“The entire Rad Power Bikes team sends their deepest condolences to the Steinsapir family on the tragic loss of Molly Steinsapir,” Rad Power Bikes spokesperson Brandie Gonzales 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, who died in an e-bike accident aged 12, along with her parents, Jonathan and Kaye Steinsapir, and her two younger brothers, Nathaniel and Eli.

(Steinsapir family)

As they pulled out of their driveway, an ambulance sped past and they followed it to the scene. The couple said they bickered as they made their way to Enchanted Way, with Jonathan trying to convince Kaye that their daughter had probably just broken a bone.

The Steinsapirs, who have two boys, Eli and Nathaniel, have lost their daughter. Molly died in hospital a few weeks later after several brain operations. She never regained consciousness. Now Molly lives in a May-painted mural that adorns the Pierson Playhouse, a theater in the Pacific Palisades where she has performed in plays like “Guys and Dolls” and “Peter Pan.”

Time passed and the Steinsapir’s fog of mourning hardened. They are now tackling the larger issue of e-bike safety for kids and specifically the Seattle-based company whose e-bike Molly was riding.

The use of e-bikes and scooters has increased across the country and in Los Angeles. Rad Power Bikes alone boasts nearly 500,000 riders on their e-bikes, and they are one of the leading manufacturers.

As utilization has skyrocketed, so have injuries across the country. The Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission found a steady 70% increase in injuries on electric scooters, e-bikes and hoverboards from 2017 to 2020. The commission reported 71 fatalities across the country during that period.

Bike safety in general has become a major issue in cities across the country, with campaigners demanding governments do more to protect them from cars. Los Angeles has responded with more bike lanes and a few guard lanes, but critics say it’s not enough.

As more children use e-bikes, some communities have taken notice. Laguna Beach, for example, launched an education program for young people after authorities noticed children speeding through town.

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

But the Steinsapirs feel that not enough is being done to protect children.

“Rad Power Bikes has just turned a blind eye to the fact that kids under 16 and under 18 are using their products nationwide,” Jonathan said. “They recognize it’s inappropriate, but they’ve shown us they don’t want to do anything about it.”

The lawsuit notes that Rad Power Bikes – the largest e-bike company in North America, offering certain e-bikes with an additional seat for a passenger – is burying the fact that its RadRunner bike should not be used by people of under 18 deep in the buyer’s manual. The warning is listed on page 49 of 57.

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

Molly Steinsapir, middle, with her two younger brothers, Nathaniel and Eli.

(Jonathan Steinsapir)

“Carry your kids,” the Rad Power Bikes website suggests to parents with a photo of a child in the backseat of an e-bike with an adult.

While the company mostly posts photos of children sitting in the back, an Instagram photo from 2020 shows a young boy sitting alone in the front seat of a bicycle. When a reviewer suggested in the comments that the company was making a “kid-sized rad,” the company replied, “Or a kid-sized Rad.”

The Rad Power Bikes website also features plenty of reviews from parents bragging about their kids as young as 10 riding their RadRunner e-bikes without adults.

‘It can accommodate my 10 and 12 year old daughters as they walk up the very steep dirt road to my house,’ one man wrote.

That’s exactly the problem, argue the Steinsapirs.

“Part of their appeal is that they take you places you wouldn’t normally be able to go, which includes climbing,” said Olivier Taillieu, the attorney who filed the lawsuit for the Steinsapirs.

Molly and her friend had climbed the steep climb of Enchanted Way and lost control of the e-bike as they descended.

Minors using e-bikes have been a problem ever since e-bikes and e-scooters hit the streets. While companies like Lime and Bird require drivers to be 18 and upload a driver’s license to rent an electric scooter, kids can get around the rules by using a parent’s account.

Underage riding isn’t necessarily a problem, experts say.

“Older teens, although technically still minors, may have responsibilities outside the home, such as after-school jobs or caring for parents or other responsibilities that require them to travel,” said Sarah Kaufman, a professor who directs the New York University Rudin Center for Transport. “E-bikes can be particularly useful for someone going from school to work and then back home.”

Kaufman added, however, that fast e-bikes can be very dangerous for people as young as Molly and that a sticker on the bike saying it’s adults only could help keep kids from riding.

“You have a dangerous product used by children,” Taillieu said.

A fresco dedicated to Molly Steinsapir

A fresco dedicated to Molly Steinsapir.

(Wesley Lapointe/Los Angeles Times)

The Steinsapirs’ lawsuit also alleges possible mechanical issues with the RadRunner bike, saying the machine’s “disc brakes” and “quick-release” front wheel mechanism are “a known safety risk in the industry.” .

Trek Bicycle Corp. recalled 1 million bicycles for a disc brake problem in 2015 after three cyclists were injured, including one paralyzed.

The lawsuit suggests that the brake setup on the RadRunner caused the e-bike to “wobble” and shake when Molly’s friend pulled the front handbrake.

“I miss my daughter more than anything… They say the loss of a child is like the worst thing that can happen to you and all I can say is that it’s true. We keep going but it’s ‘is very difficult.

—Jonathan Steinsapir

Karissa Marsh says her 11-year-old son, Rhett, was unharmed on July 7 when the front wheel of the RadRunner he was riding in Manhattan Beach detached from the bike, sending him flipping the handlebars. He kind of landed on his feet, Marsh said.

“The bike literally fell apart,” she added.

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 accident.

“Rad has to take responsibility,” Marsh said. “Stop blaming everyone else.”

In another incident in 2019, Coto de Caza resident Jennifer Fitzpatrick crashed after she was unable to slow her rental Rad e-bike as she rolled down a hill at the Pelican resort. Hill, she claimed in a lawsuit. Fitzpatrick, now 57, tried to turn off the bike but couldn’t and was thrown off the bike and left concussed and briefly unconscious despite wearing a helmet, a lawsuit filed last year in the Orange County.

“She pressed the button several times, but the [e-bike’s] the engine failed to stop several times, and the [e-bike] continued to pick up speed, preventing it from slowing down,” the suit reads.

“It was a horrific accident and just a split second later I thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s Jennifer,'” her husband, Daniel Fitzpatrick, 64, said. “When I look at these kids riding electric bikes, I just imagine if right now, as I look at them, the bike flipped over and they crashed.

Rad Power Bikes argued in its response to the lawsuit that Jennifer Fitzpatrick “apparently never applied the brakes on the e-bike.”

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

“Cycling, electric, motorized or otherwise, is clearly a recreational activity with inherent risks of harm that cannot be eliminated from the activity without altering the fundamental nature of the activity. Falling from a bicycle is an inherent risk of riding a bicycle,” lawyers for Rad Power Bikes wrote in court documents in the Fitzpatrick case.

The Fitzpatricks’ product liability and negligence case is set to go to a jury next year.

“Our experience is not isolated,” Kaye Steinsapir said.

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

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