District of Columbia proposes revising ebike and escooter laws

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Local blogs the WashCycle and Greater Greater Washington are reporting DC Councillor Cheh has introduced the "Electric Mobility Devices Amendment Act of 2019". Previously under DC Code and Municipal Regulations Class 1-2 ebikes fell under the definition of Motorized Bicycle, Class 3 was a Motor Driven Cycle. The wording of this bill would redefine Motorized Bicycles (Class 1 and 2 ebikes) as a Battery Assisted Bicycle further defining them plus escooters as types of Electric Mobility Device. The biggest changes would be to permit EMD's (including Class 1 and 2 ebikes and escooters) to ride on sidewalks outside the Central Business District. This is helpful for some commuters who have to ride on bridge sidepaths across the Potomac river from Virginia into the District of Columbia.

The wording is complicated and raises several issues for ebike/escooter commuters:
1) Class 3 ebikes remain subject to the Motor Driven Cycle definition, requiring a license, registration, and insurance (impossible for most Class 3 ebikes that don't have a VIN#) and banned from sidewalks/bridge sidepaths and even street marked bike lanes in the District.
2) the GGW post highlights the proposed parking rules would bar parking on federal land meaning no one would be permitted to park their own e-bike at a bike rack on NPS land (including the National Mall and monuments), and federal government employees wouldn’t be able to park their own e-bikes at work.
3) Oblige escooter companies to cease operations between the hours of 10pm-4am every day (effectively a handout to car uber/lyft/cab companies).
4) Fails to oblige EMD operating companies to share safety data: Earlier this year CaBi+ pedelecs were withdrawn for the same brake issue that led Uber to modify their 1st gen JUMP bikes, but Uber apparently didn't share this information with Motivate/Lyft.
5) Maintains ambiguity around riding ebikes on bike trails and multi-use paths in the District, for example the Capital Crescent Trail is a vital off-street bicycle commuter artery, operated by the National Park Service who maintain an ebike ban. The wording says EMD's may be operated on any sidewalk...but does this include a MUP or bike trail? What legal standing would an NPS trail ban have if DC passes this into law, together with the adjoining CCT trail jurisidiction Maryland now also permitting EMD's on its sidewalks?

Anyway it's a start.
 
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Ken M

Well-Known Member
I would love to have a discussion with any law maker that thinks regulations like this are rational. Obviously they are wanting to classify any ebike that assists past 20mph as a "motor vehicle" so that they can collect registration fees and give insurance companies another revenue stream for executive bonuses (one of the reason why people ride bikes is to be economical and not have to be gouged by insurance companies that don't even consider that whenever some gets on a bike and not in their car their liability actually goes down).

I honestly do not even worry about all this city and state regulatory changes because the federal definition of an ebike supercedes anything they do at these lower levels (it's says so). Cities and states can regulate usage of ebikes but a federal compliant ebike is the equivalent of a traditional bike so if they ban ebikes they must ban all bikes.

Is there any lawyers out that that want to engage on this. I think lawyers are ruining just about anything they get involved with. I literally had a retired judge recently tell me that lawyers create litigation because it's the only way they can make a living. I told him why don't they do something that ads value to our society instead of screwing everyone they can. He agreed when I told him that I don't think most lawyers even feel compelled to follow the law because they feel they are somehow above it. He even went into how law firms and county/district/state judges are many times members of the same country clubs and it absolutely impacts how they make decisions. Pathetic I told him...and I said it's why so many are loosing all respect for lawyers and lawmakers. What ever happened to doing the right thing?
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
After this article in the Post not only would I want the legislation changed to demand EMD operating companies share safety data on their ebikes and scooters, I would require as a condition of their operating agreement they must share location and rider data with law enforcement pursuing their enquiries after a collision. Horrific.
 

Sharkbait

Member
As ebikes gain momentum here we can expect this everywhere. Govt cannot profit from people not using gas, getting tickets and paying fines, parking, paying taxes and registration.....ins companies go under.....court system that is 50% traffic 50% drugs puts lawyers out of work, no longer can they threaten to takr your drivers license for everything.....the govt has everything to lose by us going green which is why it has been squashed for so long.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
As for this bill, the status as of October 9 is it's still described as "under review by council" which means it is languishing under a pile of other bills in the Transportation Committee's inbox where if not enacted it can sit for up to 2 years until dismissed. Given the DC Council is currently in the process of determining how to discipline one of its members for public transit ethics violations they have other priorities. Politicians.
 
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Sharkbait

Member
As for this bill, the status as of October 9 is it's still described as "under review by council" which means it is languishing under a pile of other bills in the Transportation Committee's inbox where if not enacted it can sit for up to 2 years until dismissed. Given the DC Council is currently in the process of determining how to discipline one of its members for public transit ethics violations they have other priorities. Politicians.
Not to mention even if enacted can be pulled anytime, cite nyc. Paper shufflers. Meanwhile i ride what i want here if it has pedals its legal so....but i lived in dc 25 yrs....i know these cities wont take ecommuting well it eats hugely into their profits plus dc has great metro and bus transp so scooters and ebikes are logical and dc is hyper costly . Typical city no parking...tickets all day to the wall. But this is what will trickle down to little Amerika when it becomes mainstream. Frankly hope its a long time here. I ride to avoid their taxes and such.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
...Obviously they are wanting to classify any ebike that assists past 20mph as a "motor vehicle" so that they can collect registration fees ..
I don't know if it is because of this or because they think class 3 owners will actually ride 28 mph on the sidewalk just because they can (but the owner of a regular bike will somehow always behave and ride 10 mph). The idea of a bike over 20 mph means "scooter" to them and a bike going 30 mph isn't a bike.

From my conversations with folks, I've concluded that most do not have knowledge of e-bikes and many don't even have knowledge of regular bikes or of the capabilities of strong riders on a good bike. Just hearing that a class 3 assists to 28 mph means to them that the class 3 riders are riding 28 mph. And conversely, due to their lack of knowledge of regular bikes I don't think they realize strong riders can exceed e-bike speeds (I regularly hit 22-23 mph on my regular bike).

It is the speed and bad behavior that should be regulated - as someone pointed out - just like automobiles. I've been on my local MUP and have plenty of times seen regular bike riders behaving very badly in the presence of pedestrians inclusive of roadies riding very fast on descents. I just recently posted a link to an article where a 76 year old pedestrian was killed due to being struck by a roadie (on a regular bike).

I attended an "educational" (in quotes because it wasn't very educational) talk by a "cycling attorney". He seemed shocked when I told him I ride my class 3 in the bike lanes. I said "just because it can assist to 28 mph doesn't mean I ride 28 mph ... I ride at a safe speed." I thought I saw light bulbs go off in his head when I told him I'm riding the class 3 in the bike lanes. I think he suddenly became aware of a new potential source of revenue.

But yes, I think there are a lot of folks who are still really ignorant of e-bikes (like my co-workers who, after 3 years of my e-bike commuting, still think I don't pedal) particularly politicians who don't exercise - and who are also ignorant of regular bikes and envision an electric scooter when they hear "e-bike" and who don't even realize that most regular bikes can get you over 20 mph.
 
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Ken M

Well-Known Member
I don't know if it is because of this or because they think class 3 owners will actually ride 28 mph on the sidewalk just because they can (but the owner of a regular bike will somehow always behave and ride 10 mph). The idea of a bike over 20 mph means "scooter" to them and a bike going 30 mph isn't a bike.

From my conversations with folks, I've concluded that most do not have knowledge of e-bikes and many don't even have knowledge of regular bikes or of the capabilities of strong riders on a good bike. Just hearing that a class 3 assists to 28 mph means to them that the class 3 riders are riding 28 mph. And conversely, due to their lack of knowledge of regular bikes I don't think they realize strong riders can exceed e-bike speeds (I regularly hit 22-23 mph on my regular bike).

It is the speed and bad behavior that should be regulated - as someone pointed out - just like automobiles. I've been on my local MUP and have plenty of times seen regular bike riders behaving very badly in the presence of pedestrians inclusive of roadies riding very fast on descents. I just recently posted a link to an article where a 76 year old pedestrian was killed due to being struck by a roadie (on a regular bike).

I attended an "educational" (in quotes because it wasn't very educational) talk by a "cycling attorney". He seemed shocked when I told him I ride my class 3 in the bike lanes. I said "just because it can assist to 28 mph doesn't mean I ride 28 mph ... I ride at a safe speed." I thought I saw light bulbs go off in his head when I told him I'm riding the class 3 in the bike lanes. I think he suddenly became aware of a new potential source of revenue.

But yes, I think there are a lot of folks who are still really ignorant of e-bikes (like my co-workers who, after 3 years of my e-bike commuting, still think I don't pedal) particularly politicians who don't exercise - and who are also ignorant of regular bikes and envision an electric scooter when they hear "e-bike" and who don't even realize that most regular bikes can get you over 20 mph.
All good comments. It's is not common sense to assume just because a car or ebike can assist to a certain speed that it will always be used at that speed. How many owners of hyper sports car would still own them if this were true.

We need to benefits ebikes provide but there will be some that go after then because they are impacted financially with the increase use of ebikes and that is sad. The benefits are more important than them padding their pensions by imposing restrictive legislation on ebikes.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
...We need to benefits ebikes provide but there will be some that go after then because they are impacted financially with the increase use of ebikes and that is sad. The benefits are more important than them padding their pensions by imposing restrictive legislation on ebikes....
Seems obvious to some of us the benefits associated with having folks leading a much more active lifestyle. Class 3 e-bikes are a great tool for getting more folks biking to work for example. Good infrastructure is the greatest tool for getting citizens to lead an active lifestyle. Poorly crafted rules based on misconceptions and lack of knowledge are not going to promote healthy lifestyles. I have this conversation at my LBS all the time. They are pretty active in lobbying for e-bike legislation. I always tell them I fear that class 3s will be targeted as all the new bike infrastructure comes online in my area. I went out and spent a good amount of money to switch from primarily car commuting to bike commuting and I fear at any time laws/rules could change which would make the bike commuting a lot more problematic. Unless I want to commit to long distance commuting solely on class 1 bikes. But I feel this is unfair given the speeds I see the roadies are able to obtain on regular bikes.