Ebike Definition Conflict in HR1019 and HR384

Ken M

Well-Known Member
There is a clear conflict / discrepancy with the recent H.R. 1019 and H.R. 384. Both bills were introduced to the 117'th congress on the same day - January 21, 2021. However, if you look at the legal text, each bill contains a different definition of what defines / constitutes a low speed electric bike / ebike. H.R. 384 uses the Federal Definition and H.R. 1019 references 3-class policy promoted by People for Bikes which while adopted by states (inappropriately I feel) that has NO federal standing whatsoever.

Rep. Earl Blumenaur has his name on both bills. He is the sponsor for H.R. 384 and one of the original co-sponsors for H.R. 1019. I notified his office of what I felt was an error in 1019 (3-class has NO federal standing for a tax credit bill) but unsure if it had any impact. Another interesting observation is that Oregon (his home state) is not a 3-class state and only uses the federal definition for "use."

Shows again how the 3-Class legislation has only muddied the water when it comes to regulations. I'm encouraging everyone to call his office and leave a message requesting a review of these two bills to have both reference the federal definition for a low speed electric bike.

Almost 85% of over 700 bikers surveyed felt the one federal LSEB definition as a bike for state use / traffic laws was the better way forward. Let's all hope that 3-class legislation gets preempted soon by the CPSC in the 28 states that blindly drank the PFBs koolaid given the lobby money provided by Bosch and others to get the US harmonized with EU ebike policy (not an optimum outcome for the US riders in my opinion).
 

mschwett

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
what is the federal definition used in HR 384?

is it this?

“For the purpose of this section, the term “low-speed electric bicycle” means a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph.”

Am I correct in interpreting this to mean that the motor could continue to assist past 20 under this definition?
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
what is the federal definition used in HR 384?

is it this?

“For the purpose of this section, the term “low-speed electric bicycle” means a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph.”

Am I correct in interpreting this to mean that the motor could continue to assist past 20 under this definition?
The CPSC clarified in 2012 that the assist did not have to stop at 20mph so long as the rider is pedaling/contributing. Technically if you read it literally (it was written by Dr. Currie who had a PhD in Electrical Engineering) it's a power limit at 20mph such that the power to sustain a 170lb rider at 20mph on a level surface can continue to be provided. That allows for about 300-350W of peak dynamic beyond 20mph which given the exponential nature of aerodynamic drag above 20mph it's still an effective speed limiting definition.....but far better than an assist cut-off as People for Bikes advocates.

I have enough forum threads on EBR that most know that I'm not a fan of the non-nonsensical 3-class policy promoted by People for Bikes. The federal definition for a "low speed electric bicycle" was being utilized for "use" regulation as bike by most states for over 10 years and it was working just fine. But lobby money from Bosch and a few other players got PFBs to create the 3-class system that was more harmonized with Europe. We already had a working definition for LSEBs that was better and there was no reason every state could not have just allowed them as a bike as was intended when the federal regulation was passed in 2002 (I encourage everyone to read the congressional notes on HR727 if you feel what I'm saying is not accurate and true.

There are lot of people on EBR that have been brainwashed to believe that the 3-class system is the only reason ebikes were granted trail access but the new DOI order to allow all 3 classes anywhere traditional bikes are allowed to ride pretty much shuts the door on their argument. I just like the federal definition because it's simple and it's actually enforceable.
 
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Nutella

Active Member
I just like the federal definition because it's simple and it's actually enforceable.
How is it enforceable? Having a single hypothetical power limit is just as unenforceable as the Class 1-3 hypothetical power limits.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
How is it enforceable? Having a single hypothetical power limit is just as unenforceable as the Class 1-3 hypothetical power limits.
A few points. The federal definition is a power limit beyond 20mph while the 3-class system is literally speed cut-offs at 2 different speeds. With one definition the compliance can be enforced by just having the feds keep records of compliant brands/models (the USGA keeps records of compliant drivers). There was no need for PFBs to promote the 3-class system - they should have promoted the federal definition to be adopted as "bike" for use by every state instead of promoting a far more confusing policy. In the process I believe there have been interstate commerce laws violated such the the 3-class legislation will have to preempted.

The federal definition of a Low Speed Electric Bicycle that is state "use" regulated as a bike by most states was working before PFBs starting promoting 3-class policy. Many states are still regulating LSEB use per the federal definition.

I know no one believes me when I claim that ebikes are perceived as a threat to some huge well established transportation industries that want to have some control of the adoption of ebikes. I'm just hoping common sense kicks in and the industries fights to return to the federal definition and all states just accept that as a bike for use.
 
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Nutella

Active Member
So, your enforcement idea is reliant on some branch of the federal govenment testing all ebikes for compliance, which is exactly the same thing that would have to happen with the Class system. Which has never been done with the CPSA regulation, or with the Class system, either at the state level, or CPSA/DOA/DOI. Then, and only then, can LEOs have some place to start with enforcement. They're both equally unenforceable until that happens. I'm not arguing that having one definition isn't simpler, just that in the US it's a moot point. Unlike in the EU where they actually test, certify and place liability on manufacturers for compliance, nothing like that will happen here.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
So, your enforcement idea is reliant on some branch of the federal govenment testing all ebikes for compliance, which is exactly the same thing that would have to happen with the Class system. Which has never been done with the CPSA regulation, or with the Class system, either at the state level, or CPSA/DOA/DOI. Then, and only then, can LEOs have some place to start with enforcement. They're both equally unenforceable until that happens. I'm not arguing that having one definition isn't simpler, just that in the US it's a moot point. Unlike in the EU where they actually test, certify and place liability on manufacturers for compliance, nothing like that will happen here.
The federal definition is somewhat self-policing because if a manufacturer or importer submits a claim of compliance that is knowingly false there are potential criminal charges. What most ebikers do not realize is that the 3-class system has no relevance to what is legally sold in the 50 states so in many states CPSC compliant ebikes are being sold that are literally not legal to ride. For example, most states have a speedometer requirement on class 3 but many Class 3 ebikes do not have an speedometer (like the Specialized top of the line Turbo Levo) because it's not required for 1st sale. Everyone is just ignoring the problems 3-class has caused because people have drank the koolaid that Class 1 provided increased trail access.

I suggest reading my forum on why 3-class should be preempted by the CPSC. I have submitted a petition to do so and I think they have to based on interstate commerce violations of 3-class.

If you review the actual 3-class model policy on People for Bikes website you will notice that in section 202 that the no insurance requirement is missing from the detail text but it's in the title where it's meritless. I do not believe this was by accident. I think this was done to eventually provide a path for insurance to be required on Class 3 ebikes as in Europe. There are people that are interested in keeping the adoption rate of ebikes restrained so I strongly prefer the one federal definition as I do believe the Dr. Currie wrote that to keep "low speed electric bicycles" as a bike for "use" by the states. Sadly I think PFBs accepted lobby money and forgot that they were supposed to be a bike advocacy group.
 

Nutella

Active Member
The federal definition is somewhat self-policing because if a manufacturer or importer submits a claim of compliance that is knowingly false there are potential criminal charges. What most ebikers do not realize is that the 3-class system has no relevance to what is legally sold in the 50 states so in many states CPSC compliant ebikes are being sold that are literally not legal to ride. For example, most states have a speedometer requirement on class 3 but many Class 3 ebikes do not have an speedometer (like the Specialized top of the line Turbo Levo) because it's not required for 1st sale. Everyone is just ignoring the problems 3-class has caused because people have drank the koolaid that Class 1 provided increased trail access.

I suggest reading my forum on why 3-class should be preempted by the CPSC. I have submitted a petition to do so and I think they have to based on interstate commerce violations of 3-class.

If you review the actual 3-class model policy on People for Bikes website you will notice that in section 202 that the no insurance requirement is missing from the detail text but it's in the title where it's meritless. I do not believe this was by accident. I think this was done to eventually provide a path for insurance to be required on Class 3 ebikes as in Europe. There are people that are interested in keeping the adoption rate of ebikes restrained so I strongly prefer the one federal definition as I do believe the Dr. Currie wrote that to keep "low speed electric bicycles" as a bike for "use" by the states. Sadly I think PFBs accepted lobby money and forgot that they were supposed to be a bike advocacy group.
I'd venture the vast majority of the ebikes sold in the US are out of compliance with the CSPC regs, no one is checking in the real world. The Class system also requires self-certification, in some states including penalties for falsification, which again, is routinely ignored. I've read your other thread, good luck with your solo crusade, I've also had my interactions with P4B over the years, IME, there's no big conspiracy beyond making it easier for the bike industry to sell more ebikes to whoever has the cash. They could care less about the ramifications of their policy excluding that.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
I'd venture the vast majority of the ebikes sold in the US are out of compliance with the CSPC regs, no one is checking in the real world. The Class system also requires self-certification, in some states including penalties for falsification, which again, is routinely ignored. I've read your other thread, good luck with your solo crusade, I've also had my interactions with P4B over the years, IME, there's no big conspiracy beyond making it easier for the bike industry to sell more ebikes to whoever has the cash. They could care less about the ramifications of their policy excluding that.
Wrong. The vast majority of ebikes are compliant to the CPSC / federal regulation and many are not compliant to the 3-class legislation. The "off-road" intended and / or mode are not compliant to either but allowed so long as intended and used off-road (can be risky to ride these as compliant on public infrastructure because if you hit a pedestrian on an illegal ebike it could bankrupt the rider which for most is simply not worth it).

Most sales of ebikes in 2012 to say 2017 were EU spec'd models that were compliant to the federal definition but for some reason PFB wanted the class 3 harmonization with the speed pedelecs in Europe. Bosch pushed the 250W power rating in Europe probably because they didn't want to invest $millions in developing a mid-drive and then compete against low priced hub motors on a level playing field (DD hub motors do need a higher power rating to match the acceleration and climbing performance of a mid drive but at high cruising speeds there are pretty much equal in performance and efficiency).

I don't view that petition as a one-man crusade because I think the interstate commerce violations are crystal clear so it was only a matter of time that someone would file one if not by me. I'm not a lawyer (I'm far too objective and open-minded) so I did a lot of research and it seems nothing really supporting the legit promotion of the 3-class legislation except for potential adoption control (slapping insurance and registration on speed pedelecs in Europe certainly has had negative impact and that very well could be adopted here if insurance companies and DMVs push for it).

There was a survey of 748 bikers and 84% said they would prefer the one federal definition of a low speed electric bicycle to be use regulated by the states as a bike (this is what the US had for pretty much 12 years and still active in about 20 states but all you hear about is PFBs bragging about getting 28 states to adopt 3-class). Ask yourself why Bosch and other companies paid upwards of $3 million in lobby money to P4Bs to promote 3-class policy. I think Bosch knows that the more people that seriously commute on ebikes the more higher profitability auto part sales they loose (they are the #1 auto parts producer in the world so they want to control ebikes a bit ... only common sense and not evil).
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
I'd venture the vast majority of the ebikes sold in the US are out of compliance with the CSPC regs, no one is checking in the real world. The Class system also requires self-certification, in some states including penalties for falsification, which again, is routinely ignored. I've read your other thread, good luck with your solo crusade, I've also had my interactions with P4B over the years, IME, there's no big conspiracy beyond making it easier for the bike industry to sell more ebikes to whoever has the cash. They could care less about the ramifications of their policy excluding that.
Couple more points...

Are you aware (I think few are) that the CPSC controls what is compliant for 1st sale in all 50 states and that 3-class has no legal standing on what can be sold. Traditionally that definition would just be accepted by the states and the states would regulate usage of that product and not try to redefine it as 3-class clearly does (keep in mind this is a regulated product with an expressed preemptive clause that has been used on less than 60 of the 10,000+ products the CPSC regulates).

If you visit the CPSC website and search for their recent "EV webinar" you can verify that People for Bikes presented 3-class policy as industry "voluntary." They don't present it as such in any of the own videos on their website. Think about that for a second. They did this because they know it has no real legal standing and they walk a very thin line if they told the CPSC their 3-class system preempts the federal definition. I just wish all ebikers would educate themselves on this because I am trying to tell everyone that loves ebikes we are far far far better off with the federal definition moving forward. Look what happened in NY recently - they adopted a 3-class policy but their class 3 ebike is throttle to 25mph which is entirely different than PFBs class 3. It's a stupid system destined to fail and I just hope to ensure it demise because it is nonsensical.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
Why is that no one at People for Bikes will really engage in a conversation the 3-class policy they drafted and promoted (with lobby money mainly from Bosch)? I would just like to understand how they felt it was better than the federal definition that had been working fine for over 12 years (at least in the states that just accepted a compliant "low speed electric bicycle" as just a bike for use / traffic laws). It sure seems like they avoid any online dialog of why they promoted this policy given their claims to be a bike advocacy organization.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
It's pretty obvious that no one really has any interest in ebike regulations ... not even the lawmakers that write them.