People For Bikes eBike Laws Updates

scottonabike

New Member
Hey everyone! I was asked by PeopleForBikes to cover their annual eBike Summit! If you're not familiar with People For Bikes, they're basically the only people out there actively lobbying state and federal government in the US for better access and friendlier bike infrastructure and laws. They are hugely supportive of eBikes. Their annual eBike summit is an industry exclusive event where a few hundred electric bike professionals meet and discuss how to continue to grow the market through advocacy. I highly recommend checking PeopleForBikes out and donating! They are the only group who is doing this nationwide and actually has lobbyists in D.C. to advocate for you. Check out the vid!

 

Over50

Well-Known Member
...They are hugely supportive of eBikes. Their annual eBike summit is an industry exclusive event where a few hundred electric bike professionals meet and discuss how to continue to grow the market through advocacy. I highly recommend checking PeopleForBikes out and donating! They are the only group who is doing this nationwide and actually has lobbyists in D.C. to advocate for you. Check out the vid!

It is good to know they are supportive of ebikes. I've been a member of a few of the bike organizations but with some I wasn't sure where they stood on ebikes because I never really saw them address the topic (RTC comes to mind). I know I've let some of those memberships lapse. New Years resolution: make sure my PeopleForBikes membership is up to date and/or make a contribution. Thanks for the info.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
Ok I did it. Just made my donation at People for Bikes (as it looks like membership is free) and also renewed my League of Michigan Bicyclists membership.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
Hey everyone! I was asked by PeopleForBikes to cover their annual eBike Summit! ...

So, what was the general reaction in the room when the Camba guy is saying that Class 1 e-bikes @ 20 mph and 250w are far too powerful for trails? I think he even states that 20 mph assisted for road riding is too fast. He advocates for a trail class for the US, something more along the lines of the European 15 mph standard. He starts around the 25 minute mark.
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
So, what was the general reaction in the room when the Camba guy is saying that Class 1 e-bikes @ 20 mph and 250w are far too powerful for trails? I think he even states that 20 mph assisted for road riding is too fast. He advocates for a trail class for the US, something more along the lines of the European 15 mph standard. He starts around the 25 minute mark.
He makes some good points and some tired, old, outdated arguments. There have been so many studies already. It's what mountain bike associations use as a delay tactic.

We riders of legal ebikes, all three classes, know these machines are very low power. Class 1 bikes are really tame. Locally we set up test rides for land managers and regulators. None had ever ridden an ebike. We brought only class 1 bikes, because that's what's legal here on trails. We were able to show the majority of the participants just how low power class 1 bikes are. They were surprised at just how tame the bikes are. We gained a lot of support. That said, if power remained the same, torque and 0 to 15 mph were the same as the current class 1 bikes, most riders of trails would be fine with the limit being 15 mph. There just isn't space or need to hit 20 mph very often. I'm not talking roads or M.U.P. or commuter bikes.

As we struggle to gain access and acceptance, we need to graciously accept the win and follow the rules. That doesn't mean to stop trying to gain more. Sometimes you need to compromise. Some will never be happy unless there is complete access and unlimited bikes. That will never happen. People say give me a speed limit, not a power limit. We see everyday cyclists running stop signs and red lights, going the wrong way on a one way street, riding sidewalks where prohibited. Speed limits will work for the minority of riders. Regulators know that. I know I've driven faster than 65 on the highway. Land managers don't want that on natural surface trails, where there are kids and animals and riders with different abilities. No one wants to pay for speed enforcement.

It's been said to me many times while lobbying for access, regulators are most upset and disappointed with riders ignoring current regulations. That and sellers of ebikes outside the law are seriously hurting the cause.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
He makes some good points and some tired, old, outdated arguments. There have been so many studies already. It's what mountain bike associations use as a delay tactic.

...Class 1 bikes are really tame. Locally we set up test rides for land managers and regulators. None had ever ridden an ebike. We brought only class 1 bikes, because that's what's legal here on trails. We were able to show the majority of the participants just how low power class 1 bikes are. They were surprised at just how tame the bikes are. We gained a lot of support. That said, if power remained the same, torque and 0 to 15 mph were the same as the current class 1 bikes, most riders of trails would be fine with the limit being 15 mph. There just isn't space or need to hit 20 mph very often. I'm not talking roads or M.U.P. or commuter bikes....

I don't mountain bike but my general impression from following the forums is that many folks think the Class 1 e-mtb is underpowered (so I was surprised to hear how overpowered he believes it to be). I agree that just because the bike assists to 20 mph doesn't mean that most folks are headed down the trails and around blind turns at 20 mph. Just as with my Class 3 commuter, I rarely hit 28 mph on a flat. In fact, I've probably only done so a few times in roughly 6-7,000 miles of commuting. But I kind of laughed at how he started making his case for the Class 1 being too powerful - that he let a land manager or someone take their first ride in Turbo on a Bosch bike (didn't say Bosch but showed the pic of the Purion) and that person came back frightened and said the bike almost accelerated out from under him/her. User training, experience and common sense an overlooked factor in his talk?
 
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mcmars

New Member
I left this comment on the video comments area:
"Regarding Joe wanting to downgrade class 1 US bikes to the EU standards, I think that is going backwards and is not something anyone who rides an ebike would want. (1) the trails themselves dictate the speed as most technical singletrack trails are not conducive for going faster than 15 mph. Exceptions are fast downhill trails, in which case, most E bikes would go slower than pedal bikes due to their greater weight and the likely older demographic of E bikers. The people going the fastest would be the strava ragers and the downhill riders, but few trails have speed limit anyway, so people go as fast as they want and can go. (2) I think the EU limiting speeds is why there are so many people modifying their E bikes to go faster as 15 MPH is very slow, especially when you want to ride one bike as both a trail bike and a commuter. Most European E biker detest the limit and modify their bikes, so much for compliance. If you want people to follow the law, than make laws that make sense, otherwise people will go around the law and be non compliant. (3) Ebikes will go faster than pedal bikes uphills, depending on the riders, but we are talking a 1 to 4 MPH difference in most cases and likely most always below 15 MPH in any typical trail situation. I suspect pedal bikers are not wanting E bikes to share the trails because they do not want less fit riders passing them, it is just the competitive nature of bikers, just ego. (4) If Joe was successful and got all US bikes to be speed limited to EU standards, then everyone would just modify their bikes and cheat anyway as 15 MPH is just to slow when you want to ride to the trail system and be able to commute with your E bike. Better to let the US 3 class system continue on as it is and work on laws, education and enforcement to keep the DIY E bikes that do not qualify into the 3 class system off the trails as they are the bikes that might damage trails, disturb wildlife, and create user conflict. I think we have seen enough studies at this point to conclude that Class 1 Bikes do not create problems with trails, wildlife or user conflict and will mix well with pedal bikes on most bike trails given sufficient visibility and trail width to enable safe passing. There will be more riders total on the trails once E bikes are allowed, riders of varying ages, skill levels and likely more people just out for recreational exercise. I suspect that might be an issue as trails become more crowded with a larger diversity of user groups than in the past when it was just pedal bikers. I am betting this is the number one reason most pedal bikers are not wanting E bikes, they want the trails to themselves, nobody likes crowded trails whether it is a hiking, skiing, biking or whatever trail. The flip side of this is more users equal more trail advocates to be vocal and support/fund trail building and ultimately more trails. As Joe concludes, the E bikers are going to be incorporated into the bike trails, it is just a just a matter of when. It makes no sense to lump E bikes onto trails with dirtbikes, off road vehicles and ATV/UTV's as those vehicles can travel crazy high speeds and destroy the trails making it both very dangerous and difficult for an E biker. There has to be a middle ground, I think it is letting class 1 E bikes onto existing singletrack bike trails. It makes sense to allow E bikes onto trails that have sufficient visibility and some space for passing and on the trails that can accommodate a greater number of riders than the trail currently is experiencing. Bottom line is E bikes allow everyone access to trails on our Public Lands and will open up the trails to more people who want to recreate onto Public Land, we just need to work out the details so this can happen in a way that maximizes safety and minimizes impact to the trails, wildlife or user group conflict."
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REPLY
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
I don't mountain bike but my general impression from following the forums is that many folks think the Class 1 e-mtb is underpowered (so I was surprised to hear how overpowered he believes it to be). I agree that just because the bike assists to 20 mph doesn't mean that most folks are headed down the trails and around blind turns at 20 mph. Just as with my Class 3 commuter, I rarely hit 28 mph on a flat. In fact, I've probably only done so a few times in roughly 6-7,000 miles of commuting. But I kind of laughed at how he started making his case for the Class 1 being too powerful - that he let a land manager or someone take their first ride in Turbo on a Bosch bike (didn't say Bosch but showed the pic of the Purion) and that person came back frightened and said the bike almost accelerated out from under him/her. User training, experience and common sense an overlooked factor in his talk?
I agree. No qualification. I'm good with the class 1 as is for trail use. I rode out with a few of the regulators and land managers. One of the younger guys, 30-ish, he tried most of the bikes and all levels. He started out against ebikes and he wound up having the most fun. Looked like a smile was painted on his face. The common remark I heard from most was these are just bikes, not the motorbikes they expected.

Here in Pennsylvania we lucked out with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Last February, 2019 they approved the use of class 1 ebikes in state parks, forests and game lands. Anywhere a bicycle is allowed an ebike is allowed. That was so important here because PA is a very rural state with a lot of state land. Every person in PA is within 25 miles of state parkland. That includes forests and game land. We are now working on access to county owned land. My county owns more than 4500 acres of parkland. I have to say most people in government have been willing to listen and learn. We are making progress.

One of our group did request help from People for Bikes. They were unable or unwilling to get involved at the county level. I've been a member of PFB for a few years. We found support from members here at EBR, friends, local cyclists (both acoustic and electric) and our local bike shops. Considering some of the resistance others have had in other states, we've been fortunate.
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
I left this comment on the video comments area:
"Regarding Joe wanting to downgrade class 1 US bikes to the EU standards, I think that is going backwards and is not something anyone who rides an ebike would want. (1) the trails themselves dictate the speed as most technical singletrack trails are not conducive for going faster than 15 mph. Exceptions are fast downhill trails, in which case, most E bikes would go slower than pedal bikes due to their greater weight and the likely older demographic of E bikers. The people going the fastest would be the strava ragers and the downhill riders, but few trails have speed limit anyway, so people go as fast as they want and can go. (2) I think the EU limiting speeds is why there are so many people modifying their E bikes to go faster as 15 MPH is very slow, especially when you want to ride one bike as both a trail bike and a commuter. Most European E biker detest the limit and modify their bikes, so much for compliance. If you want people to follow the law, than make laws that make sense, otherwise people will go around the law and be non compliant. (3) Ebikes will go faster than pedal bikes uphills, depending on the riders, but we are talking a 1 to 4 MPH difference in most cases and likely most always below 15 MPH in any typical trail situation. I suspect pedal bikers are not wanting E bikes to share the trails because they do not want less fit riders passing them, it is just the competitive nature of bikers, just ego. (4) If Joe was successful and got all US bikes to be speed limited to EU standards, then everyone would just modify their bikes and cheat anyway as 15 MPH is just to slow when you want to ride to the trail system and be able to commute with your E bike. Better to let the US 3 class system continue on as it is and work on laws, education and enforcement to keep the DIY E bikes that do not qualify into the 3 class system off the trails as they are the bikes that might damage trails, disturb wildlife, and create user conflict. I think we have seen enough studies at this point to conclude that Class 1 Bikes do not create problems with trails, wildlife or user conflict and will mix well with pedal bikes on most bike trails given sufficient visibility and trail width to enable safe passing. There will be more riders total on the trails once E bikes are allowed, riders of varying ages, skill levels and likely more people just out for recreational exercise. I suspect that might be an issue as trails become more crowded with a larger diversity of user groups than in the past when it was just pedal bikers. I am betting this is the number one reason most pedal bikers are not wanting E bikes, they want the trails to themselves, nobody likes crowded trails whether it is a hiking, skiing, biking or whatever trail. The flip side of this is more users equal more trail advocates to be vocal and support/fund trail building and ultimately more trails. As Joe concludes, the E bikers are going to be incorporated into the bike trails, it is just a just a matter of when. It makes no sense to lump E bikes onto trails with dirtbikes, off road vehicles and ATV/UTV's as those vehicles can travel crazy high speeds and destroy the trails making it both very dangerous and difficult for an E biker. There has to be a middle ground, I think it is letting class 1 E bikes onto existing singletrack bike trails. It makes sense to allow E bikes onto trails that have sufficient visibility and some space for passing and on the trails that can accommodate a greater number of riders than the trail currently is experiencing. Bottom line is E bikes allow everyone access to trails on our Public Lands and will open up the trails to more people who want to recreate onto Public Land, we just need to work out the details so this can happen in a way that maximizes safety and minimizes impact to the trails, wildlife or user group conflict."
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REPLY
One of the biggest issues we face with regard to access is sellers of illegal ebikes and riders willing to use those bikes where prohibited. I agree some of the laws and restrictions are ridiculous, but the answer isn't to ignore the laws. The answer is to work to change the laws.

Lawmakers, regulators and land managers read forums and watch YouTube too. They know people are ignoring regulations and they feel it will only get worse if they allow low power ebikes. They ask how do you tell the difference between a class 1 ebike and a 1500 watt electric moped. I've also been asked if I'd be willing to obtain and prominently display a permit sticker on my ebike.

Many land managers feel this is a headache they don't need to deal with for a tiny minority of users. It's so much better for us to put a face and a story to the issue, than to ignore it. Having a $5000 ebike confiscated and an $800 fine for trespassing would ruin most people's day.
 
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mcmars

New Member
Regarding illegal (moped) E bikes that do not fit the current class 1,2,3 E bike classification system, it is pretty simple, they are legally a moped and require license, registration and insurance to be used on public roadways and have no place on city bike paths or mtn bike trail systems. People who choose to build a DIY kit bike that exceeds the 3 class system or deregulate their brand name E bike in order to have a faster more powerful E bike are knowingly altering their E bike into a moped. From a law enforcement view, yes it is a problem, just like all the people who swap out their headlights in their car/truck and install illegal ultra bright headlights that blind oncoming traffic, or the Harley and UTV owners who replace their stock exhaust with loud after market pipes in violation of city decibel sound limits or any other number of similar examples.

Ultimately, these type of issues get sorted out in the Courts when there are accidents and lawsuits. Frankly, I am amazed that people are using these non classified vehicles without worrying about what will happen when they accidentally run over a pedestrian or get hit by a car in an intersection. In the US, where lawsuits are a way of life for many people and you stand the chance to "lose the farm" if a judge decides you are in fault because at the time of the accident, you were driving an uninsured, unlicensed and unregistered moped, even though you were following the other traffic laws and were not at fault otherwise. That is way to much risk for me to want to modify my new E bike, void the warranty and potentially lose my life savings just to gain some power.

I can offer one answer on "how do you determine the class of an E bike"? I think it might come down to some stickers/badges/plates (?) and some new laws about misuse of displaying these "plates". Manufacturers can install a permanent badge onto the motor/hub of an E bike that displays the class and power. DIY kits are required to comply with the laws if they sell a legal class 1,2,3 kit and the kit includes a badge that shows the class of the motor. DIY kits that exceed the power of class 1,2,3 have a "branding" that shows class non compliance (moped) so LE can easily ID the vehicle when they are involved in an accident or rangers patrolling trails. Probably some laws specific to Ebike and mopeds about misuse of plates, so it can be sorted out easily when there is an accident. It will take some time, we are talking about a whole new class and style of vehicles to integrate onto roadways and trail systems, there will be accidents with personal and property damage. Sooner we figure it out, the better for all.

As far as being able to use a class 1 (or 2/3) bike on Public Land existing bike trail systems, I would have no problem going to local BLM or FS office to get for free, or even pay $20, for an permanent or annual sticker to be put on my bike that allows me access to public land bike trail systems so I could share bike trails with other pedal bikers. This would also be a good time for the land management agencies to do some education and go over the expected trail rules and etiquette to help the different user groups be able to best share the trail system without conflict. I think it will come down to the E bike owner swearing under oath their bike is to best of their knowledge unaltered and is a class X Ebike as designed by the OEM manufacturer or has been built or altered to comply as a class 1,2 or 3 E bike. You lie under oath and get into trouble due to "excessive speed" as determined by LE, it comes back to bite you later.

The class system is not without issues and problems, but at this time, it seems like a good way to sort out the E bikes from the mopeds and hopefully that will help get more single track trails and city bike paths open to E bikes. I have a LE background, can you tell, haha?
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
I'm impressed BPSA/People for Bikes is targetting 14 more state assemblies in 2020 to lobby for adopting the 3-class model ebike legislation including Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Kentucky, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Virginia.