Why Class 3 is such bad legislation...

Ken M

Well-Known Member
There’s no question about it: Class 3 ebikes (S-pedelecs in Europe) are an ideal means of transport for commuters and would help ease the traffic situation, especially in congested cities. The legislature is hindering the transformation of urban mobility because these models are restricted to road use / bike lane use only. The is the opinion of E-Mountainbike magazine and myself, this is an ill-conceived regulation as it makes Class 3 ebikes and S-pedelec less appealing and prevents people from switching over to one of these instead of a car, negating the ecological, economic and health benefits they bring. Unfortunately, most cities doesn’t yet have any real Class 3 / S-pedelec dedicated infrastructure so you can literally get stuck in traffic with cars. As such, you end up getting stuck in rush hour traffic, crawling along at the same pace as the cars around you and inhaling their exhaust fumes. If you’re not stuck in traffic, you get hooted at by uncomprehending motorists since the fastest you can ride is 45 km/h. Oh and lets not forget these ebikes can't have a throttle yet they are required to be ridden on infrastructure where every other vehicle has a throttle or gas pedal.

Amazingly there are those that support the 3-class legislation because they feel it's the only reason they can ride class 1 ebikes on a trail...something they just accepted to be true.

I'm just posting this because I was happy to see the major ebike publication express this opinion. Maybe that will get more ebikers thinking about smarter legislation (like supporting LSEBs as bikes as defined by federal law HR727).
 

Dadam

New Member
Region
United Kingdom
There’s no question about it: Class 3 ebikes (S-pedelecs in Europe) are an ideal means of transport for commuters and would help ease the traffic situation, especially in congested cities. The legislature is hindering the transformation of urban mobility because these models are restricted to road use / bike lane use only. The is the opinion of E-Mountainbike magazine and myself, this is an ill-conceived regulation as it makes Class 3 ebikes and S-pedelec less appealing and prevents people from switching over to one of these instead of a car, negating the ecological, economic and health benefits they bring. Unfortunately, most cities doesn’t yet have any real Class 3 / S-pedelec dedicated infrastructure so you can literally get stuck in traffic with cars. As such, you end up getting stuck in rush hour traffic, crawling along at the same pace as the cars around you and inhaling their exhaust fumes. If you’re not stuck in traffic, you get hooted at by uncomprehending motorists since the fastest you can ride is 45 km/h. Oh and lets not forget these ebikes can't have a throttle yet they are required to be ridden on infrastructure where every other vehicle has a throttle or gas pedal.

Amazingly there are those that support the 3-class legislation because they feel it's the only reason they can ride class 1 ebikes on a trail...something they just accepted to be true.

I'm just posting this because I was happy to see the major ebike publication express this opinion. Maybe that will get more ebikers thinking about smarter legislation (like supporting LSEBs as bikes as defined by federal law HR727).
Where every other vehicle has a throttle…except, I dunno, all the bicycles? 🤷‍♂️
You shouldn’t really get stuck in traffic on a bike. Don’t bikes and motorcycles have the right to filter through queuing traffic where you’re from?

Agree with the rest though.
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Minnesnowta
Where every other vehicle has a throttle…except, I dunno, all the bicycles? 🤷‍♂️
You shouldn’t really get stuck in traffic on a bike. Don’t bikes and motorcycles have the right to filter through queuing traffic where you’re from?

Agree with the rest though.
Lane splitting or filtering is largely illegal in the USA.
Minnesota snuck eBike classes through the legislature with ZERO feedback from the industry associations. Although those potato heads have supported the class system. It's DUMB! The USA is far more cage oriented than all of Europe, Cars (cages) per thousand people is near 900 in the USA and nearer 500 in the UK. And then compare the sizes of common vehicles. Bike riding is a dangerous adventure here with little or no infrastructure.
 

Dadam

New Member
Region
United Kingdom
That really sucks. Filtering is the great advantage of urban cycling. Cycling infra is patchy here, and where there are paths they’re usually shared so it’s usually not safe to be doing over 15. Better generally to be on the road, but when queues build it’s such a joy to filter past them all.

It can be gridlocked between my house and office, 4.5 miles, and I can be still at work in well under 20 minutes, and that’s on an acoustic bike. With normal traffic about 17min. I live at the top of a hill, so it’s a bit longer on the way home. A few years ago there was a burst water main on a big junction 1 mile outside the city centre and all the surrounding roads turned into car parks. It took me 1.5 hrs to get into work, I could have literally walked in faster. I saw all these bikes going past and thought, why don’t I do that?
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Lane-splitting is legal in California, which is where most of the cars are, anyway :D

More accurately, its not illegal. Since it is not enumerated in the vehicle code, it becomes legal. Its sort of a famous loophole and in recent years there have been noises about making it expressly legal via a new statute.

But I don't think that counts with regard to bicycles and ebikes. Lane-splitting does not include riding past cars as you breeze past a traffic jam on the road shoulder (motorcycles expressly cannot do that here). Bikes can do that all day long in any State I should think. Lane-splitting is in the middle of the road between lanes. I don't think a whole lot of cyclists who value their limbs and dental work would care to run down the middle of a freeway or arterial and have to work their way back to the shoulder when traffic opens back up, or risk a driver changing lanes and smooshing them. Like I said its legal here and you NEVER see anyone dumb enough to try that on a bicycle.

Is there a Federal law that takes precedence over State rules?
Not on public roads. Land use in areas governed by the Dept of the Interior and Dept of Agriculture are federally administered. Otherwise its state vehicle code rules. If anything the feds are falling into that line by expressly writing in 3 classes to the recently adopted federal land use rules as pertaining to ebikes.

I went to the Grand Canyon and ebiked all over it last year, and I'm going back again in the Spring to do it again. The rules are VERY simple: If you are on a trail you have to be pedaling. Thats it. Which means if you are on a paved road - like the one going around the South Rim, or to the campground or the store etc. etc. etc. you can throttle away to your heart's content.

This year the descriptive page of the GC web site does mention Class 1, 2 and 3 expressly. Thats new. But I can absolutely guarantee you that nobody is enforcing the Class 1/3 limit, and nobody cares. Class 2 bikes are everywhere. In fact, on the NPS web page, they show a Class 2 bike on a trail where they are 'prohibited'.

Everyone enjoys the park. Ebikes are literally everywhere and are in the way of nobody. Nobody cares about splitting hairs like this.

 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Is there a Federal law that takes precedence over State rules?
The short answer is no. It is a very long and sorted story. The good news is the USDOT relinquished responsibility when the CPSC decided to regulate minimum safety standards and they, the CPSC, classed ebikes as consumer goods. They aren't part of the transportation regulatory system of the US government. So you don't need DOT spec equipment and safety. You also don't need inspections or regulatory fees associated with cars and trucks. Ebikes can be cheap this way.

The bad news is the crap that gets imported as "consumer goods", they meet no standards for safety other than the laughable bicycle standards and they only get checked when a tragedy happens like a crash. There are no safety standards for the electrical systems on an ebike, so fires we keep reading about..... perfectly legal and acceptable🤯

So states have some federal guidelines to follow for automobiles. States and local governments can say where some vehicles can drive. For instance many states have classes for pickup trucks, mine is a class 2. The classes have more to do with gross vehicle weight and associated fees. The Feds say what is road worthy... most of the time. Every state I'm aware of has agricultural or farm tags and registration. You can drive (on state, county and township roads) a 1940 stake body truck that has none of the modern safety equipment like seatbelts and emission controls. Still passes inspection.

Consumer goods, like bikes, ebikes, ovens, etc..., are very different. The feds spec minimum standards, but state and local governments say what you can do with them. You can't use a kerosene heater in several states, but the feds say what a safe one is. The feds say what a safe oven is, but your local government won't let you install one in the bathroom.

The feds gave up on bikes as transportation vehicles a long time ago and some early ebike manufacturers like Currie/Izip lobbied to take electric bikes away from the Federal transportation regulatory system. There's good and bad to everything the government does. Well there's sometimes good🤔. Bikes are toys and recreational devices in the US. Your local government has control over what you can do with them. It wouldn't be fair, but if they want they can say no MTB's on the road. Impossible to regulate. Just like ebikes are nearly impossible to regulate. Soon enough they'll regulate through import and sales regulations.
 

Dadam

New Member
Region
United Kingdom
To clarify. In the UK filtering and lane splitting is legal but only past stationary or slow moving traffic. I drove round round the Paris Peripherique at rush hour once, that was an experience! A constant line of scooters and motorcycles whizzing past either side between each of 4 lanes of traffic!
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
The short answer is no. It is a very long and sorted story. The good news is the USDOT relinquished responsibility when the CPSC decided to regulate minimum safety standards and they, the CPSC, classed ebikes as consumer goods. They aren't part of the transportation regulatory system of the US government. So you don't need DOT spec equipment and safety. You also don't need inspections or regulatory fees associated with cars and trucks. Ebikes can be cheap this way.

The bad news is the crap that gets imported as "consumer goods", they meet no standards for safety other than the laughable bicycle standards and they only get checked when a tragedy happens like a crash. There are no safety standards for the electrical systems on an ebike, so fires we keep reading about..... perfectly legal and acceptable🤯

So states have some federal guidelines to follow for automobiles. States and local governments can say where some vehicles can drive. For instance many states have classes for pickup trucks, mine is a class 2. The classes have more to do with gross vehicle weight and associated fees. The Feds say what is road worthy... most of the time. Every state I'm aware of has agricultural or farm tags and registration. You can drive (on state, county and township roads) a 1940 stake body truck that has none of the modern safety equipment like seatbelts and emission controls. Still passes inspection.

Consumer goods, like bikes, ebikes, ovens, etc..., are very different. The feds spec minimum standards, but state and local governments say what you can do with them. You can't use a kerosene heater in several states, but the feds say what a safe one is. The feds say what a safe oven is, but your local government won't let you install one in the bathroom.

The feds gave up on bikes as transportation vehicles a long time ago and some early ebike manufacturers like Currie/Izip lobbied to take electric bikes away from the Federal transportation regulatory system. There's good and bad to everything the government does. Well there's sometimes good🤔. Bikes are toys and recreational devices in the US. Your local government has control over what you can do with them. It wouldn't be fair, but if they want they can say no MTB's on the road. Impossible to regulate. Just like ebikes are nearly impossible to regulate. Soon enough they'll regulate through import and sales regulations.
State and local jurisdictions CAN NOT deny MTBs on the road but they can deny ALL bikes access. In other words, the feds define what the product is (in this case a bike, which a LSEB is) and if a bike is allowed on that trails or infrastructure all bikes are (road, trail, unicycle, recumbents, LSEBs, etc.).
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
State and local jurisdictions CAN NOT deny MTBs on the road but they can deny ALL bikes access. In other words, the feds define what the product is (in this case a bike, which a LSEB is) and if a bike is allowed on that trails or infrastructure all bikes are (road, trail, unicycle, recumbents, LSEBs, etc.).
That is obviously wrong at the federal, state and local level. At the federal level, look no further than the link to GCNP ebike rules I posted above, where it limits ebikes to Class 1 and 3 on certain portions of the park (many of which I might add are paved). This 1/3 limitation is mimicked in the recent federal ebike rules which also expressly allow local land managers to override the federal guidelines and make their own local rules, which can further restrict. The same is true in state law where local officials (city councils and so on) are specifically tasked with making decisions on where bicycles - which is what ebikes are - are allowed and how. Selective restriction is literally done everywhere.

CA state law (the vehicle code) for example limits Class 3 to bike lanes on the street but excludes them from shared-use paths. The pic below is a street on my commute. It shows a shared-use path off the road, and a bike lane on the right side. Analog plus Class 1 and 2 bikes are legal on the path, but Class 3 is not. So that picture right there coupled to the widely-understood (and I thought universal across all states) class 3 exclusion on shared-use paths directly rebuts the quoted statement.

(for viewers outside the USA, that speed limit is miles-per-hour and partially explains in what kind of a world fast ebikes make practical sense).



Willow.png
 

mschwett

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Lane-splitting is legal in California, which is where most of the cars are, anyway :D

More accurately, its not illegal. Since it is not enumerated in the vehicle code, it becomes legal. Its sort of a famous loophole and in recent years there have been noises about making it expressly legal via a new statute.

But I don't think that counts with regard to bicycles and ebikes. Lane-splitting does not include riding past cars as you breeze past a traffic jam on the road shoulder (motorcycles expressly cannot do that here). Bikes can do that all day long in any State I should think. Lane-splitting is in the middle of the road between lanes. I don't think a whole lot of cyclists who value their limbs and dental work would care to run down the middle of a freeway or arterial and have to work their way back to the shoulder when traffic opens back up, or risk a driver changing lanes and smooshing them. Like I said its legal here and you NEVER see anyone dumb enough to try that on a bicycle.

actually, it’s expressly legal for motorcycles in CA since 2017 or sometime shortly after the passage of AB 51. i’d be surprised if it wasn’t also legal for bikes. i do it all the time when traffic is stopped on a 25 or 35 mph limit road (which is basically all of them in the city) and there isn’t a shoulder or the space between traffic and parked cars is narrow. in many ways it’s much safer than the space adjacent to the parking lanes because the odds of someone opening a door in the middle of the road are really much, much smaller. not zero of course, but i’ve personally never seen it.

it gets me to work in less than 10 minutes. driving takes 15.

i had no idea filtering was illegal outside of california. bizarre and stupid.

i also happen to agree with the limits on shared paths. bikes capable of routinely going 28mph should be in roadside bike lanes or similar. of course the same could theoretically be achieved by speed limits, but they’re never enforced, at least that i’ve seen.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
That is obviously wrong at the federal, state and local level. At the federal level, look no further than the link to GCNP ebike rules I posted above, where it limits ebikes to Class 1 and 3 on certain portions of the park (many of which I might add are paved). This 1/3 limitation is mimicked in the recent federal ebike rules which also expressly allow local land managers to override the federal guidelines and make their own local rules, which can further restrict. The same is true in state law where local officials (city councils and so on) are specifically tasked with making decisions on where bicycles - which is what ebikes are - are allowed and how. Selective restriction is literally done everywhere.

CA state law (the vehicle code) for example limits Class 3 to bike lanes on the street but excludes them from shared-use paths. The pic below is a street on my commute. It shows a shared-use path off the road, and a bike lane on the right side. Analog plus Class 1 and 2 bikes are legal on the path, but Class 3 is not. So that picture right there coupled to the widely-understood (and I thought universal across all states) class 3 exclusion on shared-use paths directly rebuts the quoted statement.

(for viewers outside the USA, that speed limit is miles-per-hour and partially explains in what kind of a world fast ebikes make practical sense).



View attachment 141619
I had a conference call with the CPSC and they avoid stepping into this debate by saying that an "LSEB" as defined by HR727 is not the same as what the states are defining as an ebike or an ebike per the 1-3 classes. I have talked with the lawyer that worked with Dr. Currie for 6 years to get HR727 passes one congressional vote short of consensus (keep in mind that is in reality the states voting). They created the term "low speed electric bicycle" because they intended for it to be SAME as a bike at the federal product regulation and definition level. An LSEB is a BIKE and this actually makes sense. For 10 years this was true in all 50 states before the 3 class legislation came about and there was no real issues except some wanting LSEBs to still be consider motorized vehicles.

People for Bikes was paid lobby money to promote state legislation for "ebikes" that was consistent with what the EU adopted but they knew throttles were allowed per HR727 so they kind of fudged in a class 2.

I know this is contentious but until something pushes a legal challenge into the courts it will not be decided but my hope is that HR727 is what lives on to define what a LSEB can be to be ridden as a bike (states were supposed to stick to "use of bikes" not redefine what a bike is).
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
local officials (city councils and so on) are specifically tasked with making decisions on where bicycles - which is what ebikes are - are allowed and how
This is the best way to look at this. An LSEB is a bike and local officials are tasked with making decisions where they can be used but they are not tasked with sub dividing what is a compliant LSEB (or in reality an ebike is). They own USE which is where, when, age, registrations, etc. but not the WHAT is a legal LSEB / ebike for sale across the country. Only under certain rare situations are states allowed to define the product unless unique to the state (which is actually how the CPSC is viewing ebikes as compared to an LSEB as defined by HR727 which is same as a bike).
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
The feds gave up on bikes as transportation vehicles a long time ago and some early ebike manufacturers like Currie/Izip lobbied to take electric bikes away from the Federal transportation regulatory system
Dr. Currie was hoping to promote and sell a "LSEB" but his lobby efforts were to get the purview of LSEBs away from the NHTSA to the CPSC. After years he was successful but the NHTSA did not want "motor alone" speeds above 20mph so Currie wrote the definition in a creative way such that the assist did not have to cease at 20mph but power was limited at and above 20mph to what would sustain a 170lb rider on a level surface at 20mph. Few really understand the intent of definition but it's why LSEBs that assist above 20mph are still considered to be same as a bike.
 

Rome

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
We are outlaws.
 

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J.R.

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Dr. Currie was hoping to promote and sell a "LSEB" but his lobby efforts were to get the purview of LSEBs away from the NHTSA to the CPSC. After years he was successful but the NHTSA did not want "motor alone" speeds above 20mph so Currie wrote the definition in a creative way such that the assist did not have to cease at 20mph but power was limited at and above 20mph to what would sustain a 170lb rider on a level surface at 20mph. Few really understand the intent of definition but it's why LSEBs that assist above 20mph are still considered to be same as a bike.
Malcolm Currie, PhD lobby efforts were expressly designed to benefit his company, Currie/eZip/iZip. Without a doubt he was a pioneer and did his job well. Currie made heavy, inexpensive lead acid battery powered, 250 watt brushed motor electric bikes that went ~15 miles per hour for approximately 6 to 12 miles. That was high tech in its day. The world, ebike technology and regulations have dramatically changed in the last 25 years, from a few thousand legally defined low power ebikes to now millions of high tech, fast, long distance ebikes all wanting to use infrastructure that has barely changed in that time.

Updated 450 watt 2010 Currie eZip. Imagine an early 2000's eZip.


State and local jurisdictions have always regulated what you can do with consumer goods and they can and do break them down by specification for regulations. Try to find a law or precedent that removes this regulatory power from local authorities. You can't because its settled law. Ebikes are regulated much the same as toys, thanks to the efforts of Currie. For good and bad they don't have the same rights and responsibilities as transportation vehicles.

Technology and regulations for technology evolve. Time marches on.