Why not speed limits?

retire01022004

New Member
I just don't get this focus in Class 1 - 3 and throttles. The issue is speed! Makes no difference if ebike, pedal bike, gasoline motor bike, runner or whatever. The main concern is speed and potential accidents with walkers, joggers and pedal bikers and others on the trail or roadway.
My automobile has a top speed of 154 mph. However, I can use it on any public roadway - as long as I adhere to the posted speed. Sometimes it's 70mph and other times 15mph.
The trail I often use in PA has a posted speed limit of 18mph. What difference does it make what class my bike is or whether it has a throttle - as long as I adhere to the posted speed limit?
 

CCroft

Member
Long-time biker but newbie ebiker here. I agree with your question/logic here. The only thing I can think of is that regulators/lawmakers think a more 'prophylactic' approach focusing on motor size, throttle or no, etc. is easier to implement/enforce than a simple speed limit? In most cases regulators/lawmakers aren't experts in most areas they regulate, so they get input, draft legislation, etc. from some kind of 'stakeholder' or interested group. It would interesting to know who those groups are in these situations...I'm guessing some more knowledgeable folks here in these forums can provide some context for some of this.
 

retire01022004

New Member
Long-time biker but newbie ebiker here. I agree with your question/logic here. The only thing I can think of is that regulators/lawmakers think a more 'prophylactic' approach focusing on motor size, throttle or no, etc. is easier to implement/enforce than a simple speed limit? In most cases regulators/lawmakers aren't experts in most areas they regulate, so they get input, draft legislation, etc. from some kind of 'stakeholder' or interested group. It would interesting to know who those groups are in these situations...I'm guessing some more knowledgeable folks here in these forums can provide some context for some of this.
CCroft, thanks for your take on this issue. Seems regulators are trying to regulate the unregulatable. Limiting motors to <750W is subverted by tweaking the controller, limiting maximum speed to 20mph is hacked by simply resetting the tire size. Seems the real concern is speed and that they can control - at least as well as it works on our public roads.
 

Rick53

Active Member
CCroft, thanks for your take on this issue. Seems regulators are trying to regulate the unregulatable. Limiting motors to <750W is subverted by tweaking the controller, limiting maximum speed to 20mph is hacked by simply resetting the tire size. Seems the real concern is speed and that they can control - at least as well as it works on our public roads.
Keep In Mind The Same People Pushing Lower Speed Max on E-Bikes > Also think plastic straws are an Extensional Threat to the environment : While Invasion of a country is just dandy : It's the same thing with Bicycle helmets : While they haven't succeeded many Lobby for mandatory Helmets for bicycle Riders : While Motorcycle Riders wear none ??? Your comment makes Sense : If everything was decided based on Common sense . We wouldn't need politicians :)

I would guess it's more about States getting to charge Fees for Class 3 Bikes then it really has anything to do with Public Safety :
 

Toomanycats

Active Member
Also, I can tell you from frequently riding bike trails, that you don’t have to ride fast to be a danger to others. I’d rather deal with the fast rider who obeys traffic rules and handles their bike well, then the clueless one who wanders back and forth slowly and unpredictably.
The latest one I saw- a perfectly made up young lady, riding with her phone on a selfie stick directly in front of her face.
 

retire01022004

New Member
Toomanycast, you are so right. Despite the 18mph limit, I often have to all by stop to get around a walker with several dogs or moms walking three abreast pushing carriages. Maybe need to regulate dog walkers and moms!
Bottom line, beyond limiting speed, need to ride cautiously. Class, watts and throttles are irrelevant.
 

Mass Deduction

Active Member
Cars and drivers are heavily regulated. Cars require registration, drivers require licencing, and insurance is required. Since the cars and drivers are heavily regulated, the cars are allowed to do more than the typical speed limits and the drivers are trained and trusted to limit themselves to speed limits.

E-bikes and e-bikers are not heavily regulated. Generally speaking you don't need registration, licencing, or insurance to operate an e-bike. Due to the lack of regulation and official cyclist training, they instead regulate the e-bikes themselves.

So choose your poison. Regulation of the vehicle, or regulation of the operators. It's unlikely you'll convince the powers that be to go without either. :)
 

Nutella

Active Member
The reason is that the legislations aren't being written by legislators, who don't know much or anything about riding ebikes or bicycles or bike paths or any of it. The legislation, like most are, is being written by lobbyists who are being paid by the bike industry, they get a couple of representatives to sponsor it and bingo. They just modified the existing US ebike law by adding some pieces from the European version. No one involved really cares about the implementation of it, or if it's logical. The elected representatives get to feel good by passing something that is innocuous and is warm and fuzzy, and the bike companies get to sell ebikes. Win/win for them. Not so much for us who have to live with it.
 

CCroft

Member
The reason is that the legislations aren't being written by legislators, who don't know much or anything about riding ebikes or bicycles or bike paths or any of it. The legislation, like most are, is being written by lobbyists who are being paid by the bike industry, they get a couple of representatives to sponsor it and bingo. They just modified the existing US ebike law by adding some pieces from the European version. No one involved really cares about the implementation of it, or if it's logical. The elected representatives get to feel good by passing something that is innocuous and is warm and fuzzy, and the bike companies get to sell ebikes. Win/win for them. Not so much for us who have to live with it.
Right, this is what I was assuming. But my question is what exactly the bike manufacturers and their lobbyists gain from this approach? Are they assuming (maybe rightly) that there must be some regulation of these things and that this sort of regulatory approach is the lesser of the evils? Or ?
 
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harryS

Well-Known Member
I would rather have the present situation where ebikes are regulated instead of the rider.

I don't want to be tested and licensed to ride my e-bikes. Neither do most of you. And once granted a license, it can be revoked. How cool is that?
 

Nutella

Active Member
Right, this is what I was assuming. But my question is what exactly the bike manufacturers and their lobbyists gain from this approach? Are they assuming (maybe rightly) that there must be some regulation of these things and that this sort of regulatory approach is the lesser of the evils? Or ?
What do they gain? An entirely new market and waaaay more sales than they had before. The Classes gives them a way to neatly define what they can sell and the governments can feel like they are putting in place common sense restrictions preventing electric motorcycles on bike paths. Which opened the door to many places allowing them where they didn't before. The reality is that neither group followed up with anyone in charge in enforcing any of these laws, so they are toothless.
 

Mass Deduction

Active Member
Right, this is what I was assuming. But my question is what exactly the bike manufacturers and their lobbyists gain from this approach? Are they assuming (maybe rightly) that there must be some regulation of these things and that this sort of regulatory approach is the lesser of the evils? Or ?
A long time ago, the comic book industry (facing criticism over their content destroying our youth, and the prospect of government regulation) chose to regulate itself by creating the "Comics Code Authority".

Decades later, the video game industry (facing criticism over their content destroying our youth, and the prospect of government regulation) chose to regulate itself by creating the "Entertainment Software Association", and created ratings like M for Mature, T for Teen, E for Everyone, etc.

Here, the industry regulating itself isn't practical because of interactions with other types of vehicles, dealing with insurance companies when accidents occur, and a hundred other reasons. My take on this is that rather than being regulated in an inconsistent way across different jurisdictions the e-bike industry decided to be proactive and create regulations that were more predictable and consistent. That's a win for manufacturers who can then sell the same product almost anywhere in the U.S., and a win for consumers who want regulation to be understandable and predictable. It would be a hassle if you bought an e-bike in one state, and then discovered (while travelling, or after moving to a new state) that it wasn't street legal in neighbouring jurisdictions, for example. This helps avoid that.

Regulation is undesirable for people who assemble their own e-bikes and don't want to be constrained by max speeds, max wattages, etc. But as e-bike sales grow, that's a declining part of the market overall, I suspect. And since regulation is likely inevitable, so having it be consistent is a win IMO.

I say that as someone in Canada who *wishes* we had consistent regulations from one province to the next! :)
 
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Mass Deduction

Active Member
[...]The reality is that neither group followed up with anyone in charge in enforcing any of these laws, so they are toothless.
I don't think that they're entirely toothless. If you are involved in an at-fault accident (such as you t-bone a car with your e-bike), and if you are riding an e-bike that runs afoul of the regulations, I think that fact could suddenly become very important and enforceable.
 

retire01022004

New Member
I've really enjoyed the various replies. Been fun and informative. Still seems to me speed limits would better meet industry and government needs. If Alberta decides speed limited to 25 mph, fine. If a government reservation wants to protect the flora and prescribes a 7 mph limit, good. Accomodates the pedal biker, 250W biker and one with dual 1500W motors.
Sort of like the 1,500 hp/300 mph Bugatti is street legal anywhere as long as it stays within posted speed limits.
 

Mass Deduction

Active Member
I've really enjoyed the various replies. Been fun and informative. Still seems to me speed limits would better meet industry and government needs. If Alberta decides speed limited to 25 mph, fine. If a government reservation wants to protect the flora and prescribes a 7 mph limit, good. Accomodates the pedal biker, 250W biker and one with dual 1500W motors.
Sort of like the 1,500 hp/300 mph Bugatti is street legal anywhere as long as it stays within posted speed limits.
I'd be fine with that. I do that myself. I've set my lowest level of pedal assist to a max of 32 km/h, and I use that on trails (a legal requirement on regional trails here). I've set the medium level to max power assist of 38 km/h, and use that on city streets. I've set the highest level to a max of 60 km/h for use on highways. So I change assist modes depending on where I am, to meet legal obligations and to have sensible maximums.

But I remain convinced that if e-bikes were regulated less, that cyclists would be regulated more (licence, registration, insurance). So I'm content with the status quo.
 
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CCroft

Member
[snip]
My take on this is that rather than being regulated in an inconsistent way across different jurisdictions the e-bike industry decided to be proactive and create regulations that were more predictable and consistent. That's a win for manufacturers who can then sell the same product almost anywhere in the U.S., and a win for consumers who want regulation to be understandable and predictable. It would be a hassle if you bought an e-bike in one state, and then discovered (while travelling, or after moving to a new state) that it wasn't street legal in neighbouring jurisdictions, for example. This helps avoid that.

[snip]
I think this makes sense from a manufacturer's perspective; similar to the debate about US national emissions standards and California state standards, etc. I would be surprised if there had been input from the manufacturer's legal teams on this as well (attempting to limit liability when folks exceed regulations, modify bikes, etc.)

And I think it's fair to point out that despite some hassle/frustration from consumers, many consumers likely benefit from greater and less expensive choices on at least some of the ebike models/lines as a result. In my rural western/midwestern US area, the challenge is getting any kind of bike (e or otherwise) used enough to improve auto driver awareness, improve biking infrastructure, etc. Having some basic regulation in place is going to be necessary for these bikes to become more mainstream; regs can always be modified later...perhaps when ebikers are more prevalent and have more of a voice as 'stakeholders' in the regulation debates :)
 

FInx

New Member
Comparing e-bikes to cars isn't a very good comparison.

Drivers must be licensed and they and their cars insured. There is no such requirement for E-Bikes. At least not yet.

I'm not sure that mandating that manufacturers build to the three class definitions is going to really help. There are always going to be people who de-restrict their bikes (which is probably not "illegal" in most places). And there will always be kits and home brews.

There is also the problem of enforcement. Our local police are not able to keep up with petty crime as it is. Who is going to patrol the bike paths for scofflaws on ebikes? At some point, if enough people get hurt due in ebike accidents, and lawmakers are forced to deal with it, they will likely go the direction of requiring licensing and insurance for ebike riders as a way to reduce some of the risk, and perhaps as a way to fund enforcement.

It's unfortunate, but there will always be people doing stupid things on ebikes that will ruin it for everyone else (and possible get people hurt or killed in the process).
 

Mass Deduction

Active Member
Comparing e-bikes to cars isn't a very good comparison.

Drivers must be licensed and they and their cars insured. There is no such requirement for E-Bikes. At least not yet.
In some European jurisdictions, it's my understanding that licence and or insurance is required for what we'd call a class 3 e-bike.

Also, similarly to car drivers being made to wear seat belts, some jurisdictions require cyclists to wear helmets (again, particularly for class 3 bikes, though were I live all cyclists of all ages must wear a helmet).

I'm not sure that mandating that manufacturers build to the three class definitions is going to really help. There are always going to be people who de-restrict their bikes (which is probably not "illegal" in most places). And there will always be kits and home brews.
There are people who drive without a licence or insurance, or tune their cars in ways regulations may not permit too. That doesn't change the fact that regulating cars helps keep such behaviour to a minimum.

There is also the problem of enforcement. Our local police are not able to keep up with petty crime as it is. Who is going to patrol the bike paths for scofflaws on ebikes? [...]
Where I live, there are teams of e-bike bylaw enforcement officers who do just that, patrol the bike paths for people using vehicles that are not allowed, such as people who have done gas kit conversions, taken the pedals off an electric scooter that had been sold as an e-bike, etc.

Ultimately it's not about perfection, but about minimizing the craziness through what regulation and enforcements seems practicable.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
In some European jurisdictions, it's my understanding that licence and or insurance is required for what we'd call a class 3 e-bike.
In most of them, except Norway and Switzerland (I think), which are not full members of the EU. Interesting fact: I have exchanged several messages with two of our Swedish users. While "EU Class 3" rules are universal, you won't buy an S-Pedelec in Sweden even if the Swedish law doesn't ban them. For some reason, all Speed e-bikes such as Trek Super Commuter+ 8S or Turbo Vado 5.0 come restricted to 25 km/h. It is a known fact Sweden is all about the safety to the level many of you wouldn't even believe.

Also, similarly to car drivers being made to wear seat belts, some jurisdictions require cyclists to wear helmets (again, particularly for class 3 bikes, though were I live all cyclists of all ages must wear a helmet).
In case of EU Class 1 e-bikes, these are classified as just bikes and most of EU jurisdictions doesn't require to wear any helmet, except for juniors. The EU L1e-B (Class 3) requires wearing a cycle helmet (the UK requires wearing a motorcycle helmet).

Where I live, there are teams of e-bike bylaw enforcement officers who do just that, patrol the bike paths for people using vehicles that are not allowed, such as people who have done gas kit conversions, taken the pedals off an electric scooter that had been sold as an e-bike, etc.
Sadly to say, in my country of Poland, patrolling the bike lanes would be the last thing for the Police or City Guard to do. While riding a bike under influence is severely punished, the law enforcement officers don't even control that unless an accident has happened. Once, the City Guard caught a mayor of a Warsaw quarter drunk while cycling; everybody thinks the guy was framed.

The situation is different with engine vehicles. A famous elderly actor (living in my neighbourhood) lost his driving license for driving under influence long time ago. Recently, he was caught drunk again, that time riding a light motorcycle (the one classified as a moped). He can be severely fined but his moped didn't require a driving license.

Ultimately it's not about perfection, but about minimizing the craziness through what regulation and enforcements seems practicable.
However harsh the regulations are, these make sense. Only the EU 25 km/h limit for Class 1 seems to be too severe. At a few locations here where bigger number of citizens own e-bikes, they de-restrict their e-bikes en masse. They would swallow the 32 km/h limit.
 
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