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



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Enchanted Approach is somewhat road within the Pacific Palisades with breathtaking views of the ocean unfold out under.

However ever since their 12-year-old daughter died in an e-bike crash on the block a 12 months and a half in the past, Jonathan and Kaye Steinsapir have averted the majestic street close to their home.

The couple filed go well with this week in opposition to Rad Power Bikes, the burgeoning firm whose product Molly Steinsapir was driving down the steep hill of Enchanted Approach with a pal on Jan. 31, 2021. Steinsapir’s pal tried to brake as they sped downhill, however the bike didn’t cease, and as a substitute the women misplaced management and had been thrown to the concrete, the place Molly lay face down, unresponsive, her helmet nonetheless on, in accordance with the lawsuit.

“I used to stroll there. I’ve not been up there since,” Jonathan Steinsapir, 44, mentioned. “It’s a very stunning road with stunning ocean views. That’s why the women rode up there that day. I don’t know if I averted it at first. Now I sort of have as a result of it brings on increasingly more that means not having gone there since.”

“I can’t think about ever going again to Enchanted Approach once more,” Kaye, 44, added. “I can’t even strategy that space.”

Rad Energy Bikes declined to touch upon the lawsuit and on questions on the way it makes positive youngsters don’t use its merchandise meant for adults.

“Your entire Rad Energy Bikes crew extends its deepest condolences to the Steinsapir household on the tragic lack of Molly Steinsapir,” Brandie Gonzales, a spokeswoman for Rad Energy Bikes, mentioned in an announcement.

They had been at dwelling a number of blocks away when a neighbor referred to as and instructed them Molly had been in an accident.

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

Molly Steinsapir, middle, who died in an e-bike crash at age 12, along with her dad and mom, Jonathan and Kaye Steinsapir, and her two youthful brothers, Nathaniel and Eli.

(Steinsapir household)

As they pulled out of their driveway, an ambulance sped previous, and so they adopted it to the scene. The couple mentioned they bickered as they drove to Enchanted Approach, with Jonathan attempting to persuade Kaye that their daughter had in all probability simply damaged a bone.

The Steinsapirs, who’ve two boys, Eli and Nathaniel, misplaced their daughter. Molly died within the hospital a number of weeks later after a number of mind surgical procedures. She by no means regained consciousness. Now Molly lives on in a mural painted in May that adorns the Pierson Playhouse, a theater within the Pacific Palisades the place she acted in performs like “Guys and Dolls” and “Peter Pan.”

Time handed and the Steinsapirs’ fog of mourning hardened. They’re now taking goal on the bigger difficulty of e-bike security for youngsters and particularly on the Seattle-based firm whose e-bike Molly was driving.

E-bike and scooter use has surged throughout the nation and in Los Angeles. Rad Energy Bikes alone boasts having practically 500,000 riders on their e-bikes, and it’s one among a number of main producers.

As use has skyrocketed, so have accidents throughout the nation. The federal Shopper Product Security Fee discovered a gentle 70% rise in accidents on e-scooters, e-bikes, and hoverboards from 2017 to 2020. The fee reported 71 fatalities throughout the nation over that interval.

Bike security normally has become a major issue in cities throughout the nation, with activists demanding governments do extra to guard them from automobiles. Los Angeles responded with extra bike lanes and a few protecting lanes, however critics say it’s not sufficient.

As extra kids use e-bikes, some communities have taken discover. Laguna Seashore, for instance, launched an education program aimed toward younger individuals after officers observed youngsters dashing by means of city.

E-bike lovers argue the machines are protected if used correctly.

However the Steinsapirs really feel not sufficient is being executed to guard kids.

“Rad Energy Bikes has merely turned a blind eye to the truth that kids below 16, below 18 are utilizing their merchandise everywhere in the nation,” Jonathan mentioned. “They acknowledge that’s inappropriate, however they’ve proven us they’re not prepared to do something about it.”

The go well with notes that Rad Energy Bikes — the largest e-bike firm in North America, providing sure e-bikes that function an additional seat for a passenger — buries the truth that its RadRunner bike shouldn’t be operated by individuals below 18 deep within the purchaser’s handbook. The warning is listed on page 49 of 57.

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

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

(Jonathan Steinsapir)

“Carry your youngsters,” the Rad Energy Bikes web site suggests to folks together with a photograph of a child on the backseat of an e-bike driving with an grownup.

Whereas the corporate principally posts photographs of youngsters driving within the backseat, an Instagram image from 2020 shows a young boy sitting in the front seat of a motorbike alone. When one commenter advised within the feedback that the corporate make a “baby sized rad,” the corporate responded, “Or a Rad sized baby.”

The Rad Energy Bikes web site additionally options quite a few opinions from dad and mom who tout the truth that their kids, as younger as 10, experience their RadRunner e-bike with out adults.

“It might probably accommodate my 10 and 12-year-old daughters as they experience up the very steep grime street to my dwelling,” wrote one man.

That’s precisely the issue, argue the Steinsapirs.

“A part of their attraction is that they take you locations you wouldn’t usually be capable of go, which incorporates uphill,” mentioned Olivier Taillieu, the lawyer who filed go well with for the Steinsapirs.

Molly and her pal had ridden all the way in which up the steep climb of Enchanted Approach and misplaced management of the e-bike as they sped again down.

Minors utilizing electrical bikes has been a problem since e-bikes and e-scooters hit the streets. Whereas firms like Lime and Fowl require riders to be 18 and add a driver’s license as a way to hire an e-scooter, youngsters can circumvent the principles by utilizing a mum or dad’s account.

Underage driving isn’t essentially an issue, consultants say.

“Older teenagers, whereas technically nonetheless minors, might have obligations exterior the house like after-school jobs or caring for relations or different obligations that require them to maneuver round,” mentioned Sarah Kaufman, a professor who runs the New York College Rudin Middle for Transportation. “E-bikes may be particularly useful for somebody going from faculty to a job after which dwelling.”

Kaufman added, nevertheless, that speedy e-bikes may be very harmful for individuals as younger as Molly and {that a} sticker on the bike noting it’s for grownup use solely might assist maintain youngsters from driving.

“You’ve received a harmful product being operated by kids,” Taillieu mentioned.

A mural dedicated to Molly Steinsapir

A mural devoted to Molly Steinsapir.

(Wesley Lapointe / Los Angeles Instances)

The Steinsapirs’ go well with additionally alleges potential mechanical points with the RadRunner bike, saying the machine’s “disc brakes” and “fast launch” front-wheel mechanism are “a identified security hazard within the business.”

Trek Bicycle Corp. recalled 1 million bikes over a disc brakes difficulty in 2015 after three riders had been injured — one paralyzed.

The lawsuit means that the brake configuration on the RadRunner triggered the e-bike to “wobble” and shake when Molly’s pal pulled on the entrance hand brake.

“I miss my daughter greater than something … They are saying the loss of a kid is just like the worst factor that may probably occur to you and all I can say is that’s true. We go on nevertheless it’s very troublesome.”

— Jonathan Steinsapir

Karissa Marsh says her 11-year-old son Rhett was unhurt July 7 when the entrance wheel of the RadRunner he was driving in Manhattan Seashore indifferent from the bike, sending him flipping over the handlebars. He one way or the other landed on his toes, Marsh mentioned.

“The bike actually simply fell aside,” she added.

However the firm took no accountability for the incident and blamed the Marshes, she mentioned. Rad Energy Bikes didn’t instantly reply to questions on Rhett’s accident.

“Rad must take accountability,” Marsh mentioned. “Cease blaming everyone else.”

In one other incident in 2019, Coto de Caza resident Jennifer Fitzpatrick crashed after she couldn’t gradual her rented Rad e-bike as she sped down a hill on the Resort at Pelican Hill, she claimed in a lawsuit. Fitzpatrick, now 57, tried to energy the bike down however couldn’t and was thrown from the bike and left concussed and briefly unconscious regardless of carrying a helmet, a lawsuit filed final 12 months in Orange County claims.

“She repeatedly pushed the button, however the [e-bike’s] motor repeatedly didn’t shut down, and the [e-bike] continued to select up pace, making it unattainable for her to decelerate,” the go well with says.

“It was a horrendous crash and only a cut up second later I assumed, ‘Oh, my God, that’s Jennifer,’” mentioned her husband, Daniel Fitzpatrick, 64. “Once I have a look at these youngsters driving e-bikes I simply envision if proper now as I’m taking a look at them the bike tipped over and so they crashed.”

Rad Energy Bikes argued in its response to the lawsuit that Jennifer Fitzpatrick “apparently by no means utilized the e-bike’s brakes.”

Daniel Fitzpatrick mentioned he was undecided if his spouse utilized the brakes.

“Using a bicycle, electrical, motorized or in any other case is clearly a leisure exercise with inherent dangers of hurt that can’t be eradicated from the exercise with out altering the elemental nature of the exercise. Falling off a bicycle is an inherent danger in driving one,” wrote attorneys for Rad Energy Bikes in courtroom papers within the Fitzpatrick case.

The Fitzpatricks’ product legal responsibility and negligence case is about to go earlier than a jury subsequent 12 months.

“Our expertise isn’t remoted,” Kaye Steinsapir mentioned.

“I miss my daughter greater than something. … They are saying the loss of a kid is just like the worst factor that may probably occur to you and all I can say is that’s true,” Jonathan Steinsapir mentioned. “We go on, nevertheless it’s very troublesome.”