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LAB Survey: Perception of Electric bikes

With the passing of the law in PA, we're going to be seeing more ebikes in town. While i think in general, i'm fine with these, they do seem to be marketed as "faster!, lighter!, and with more acceleration!," and i've seen how easily they can be abused and ridden dangerously in cities like toronto and nyc, the worst seemingly delivery drivers. I have to admit it was jarring seeing these in some of NYC's protected bike lanes (going the wrong direction at times). While they seem to be popular in europe, there's going to be a learning curve here, especially as these get "faster!, lighter!, and with more acceleration!" and cheaper every year. it seems that every major company is going to be producing one soon too Anyway, the League of American Bicyclists has a survey out right now regarding perceptions of ebikes. It brought up some things that i didn't think about, like the possibility of a scooter looking "bicycle" in Open Streets Events, club rides, or Pedal PGH.
2014-11-06 10:27:05
My perception is that electric bikes are not bicycles if pedaling is optional. If that threshold is crossed, then they are mopeds and should be treated as such and disallowed on infrastructure that bans motorized vehicles. However, I don't care whether they need to be registered and titled, but it seems a bit like overkill to do that. I have little problem with pedal assist bicycles which require pedaling to operate the motor and are limited to a max speed of 15mph, which is the max speed on most shared use paths I've used. I think the big danger of these is that they can create a dangerous speed differential between pedestrians and e-bike riders or even e-bike riders and casual cyclists which can cause injuries and paint perceptions of cyclists in a negative way.
2014-11-07 15:15:13
The article says there will be an age limit -- you must be 16 or older to operate electric assist bikes. I think that's a really good idea. First, it addresses the problem of kids too young for drivers licenses treating them like motorcycles. Second, they tend to be heaver than regular bikes, so the rider needs to be large/strong enough to control them (not to mention mature enough to handle the extra power). Note that the article addresses electric-assist bikes. I hope we can find different common labels for electric assist bikes (which add power to your pedaling effort, have limits on max weight/speed) and electric bikes with a throttle that lets you run them without pedaling (and are often faster/heavier). It's a shame that "e-bike" is used to refer to both, especially since only electric-assist is generally permitted on the trails. For a while we had someone in town renting the latter and encouraging people to take them to the trails. In the Netherlands, electric-assist bikes are driven like regular bikes (that is to say, responsibly). When we were last there a few years ago, they seemed to be used mostly by older adults on local errands, and we thought it was a great way to help people stay on their bikes. My great fear here is that we won't be clear about the distinction between electric-assist and electric-power-on-demand-from-throttle, and kids will take the latter to the trails without the strength or judgment to handle them safely.
2014-11-09 09:33:35
the new rules are set: "A vehicle weighing not more than 100 pounds with two or three wheels more than 11 inches in diameter, manufactured or assembled with an electric motor system rated at not more than 750 watts and equipped with operable pedals and capable of a speed not more than 20 miles per hour on a level surface when powered by the motor source only. The term does not include a device specifically designed for use by persons with disabilities." as for this: "especially since only electric-assist is generally permitted on the trails." not true. throttle ebikes are allowed as long as they meet the state requirements. both on the GAP and on the three rivers heritage trail Allegheny Trail Alliance rules: Other power-driven mobility devices, not specifically designed for disabilities, may be used in Pennsylvania, provided: Motors on electric vehicles are 250 watts or less Devices weigh less than 100 lbs. Device are no more than 36" wide Devices have fully operating pedals source: City of Pittsburgh rules seem to align with the new state rules: Other power-driven mobility devices that are not designed specifically for mobility disabled individuals, may also be used by others without disabilities. Such devices include but are not limited to: Segways, cyclecars, electric bikes, electric ride ons, power scooters...These devices are allowed, if they meet specific requirements. source: which means that "For a while we had someone in town renting the latter and encouraging people to take them to the trails" this is now legal
2014-11-12 00:26:20
That ATA info, from a page on group ride permits, seems to conflict with this list of trail rules, also on the ATA web site. Trail Rules No motorized vehicles except wheelchairs. ... Most likely the group rides page has it right, but their site isn't 100% clear. throttle ebikes are allowed as long as they meet the state requirements. both on the GAP and on the three rivers heritage trail I think they'd have to meet the ATA (and city) requirements, not the state's, which are different. The city (and probably the ATA) says motors can't be over 250 watts, for instance, while PA permits up to 750 watts. And PA has no maximum width rule. On the other hand, motorized vehicles with four wheels (or one) aren't e-bikes under PA law (so some might require a license to be used on public roads), but they potentially meet the city's definition and could be permitted on trails.
2014-11-12 08:43:52
yeah, sorry, typed that late last night
2014-11-12 09:48:30
the wattage difference is going to be a problem for enforcement. It will be interesting to see how this industry develops. Like if you are going to buy one ebike, will you bother with one under 250W or would you just buy the 750W one and ride the trails anyway because no one is going to check
2014-11-12 09:49:37
huh. A quick look at REI's website, they have one at 500W and one that they don't even list the W on the spec list. it isn't until they answered a question on the Q&A that you find out it's 280W. Both of the ones that REI sells is over the max. so can one even buy a decent ebike under 250? a quick look at performance's website shows 8 ebikes, each one is at 500W. Most of Walmart's are at 250W, but not all. the rules were written several years ago, and tech on these has changed dramatically
2014-11-12 14:12:23