E-assist bikes, trail connections and multimodal funding on WA Bikes 2018 state legislative agenda

Photo by WA Bikes featuring my amazing spouse Kelli, who works for the organization, and our new e-bike we plan to use to stay car-free once our child is born.

What exactly is an electric-assist bicycle? And where can you ride one?

Providing state-level clarity on these questions is one part of Washington Bikes’ 2018 state legislative agenda, along with efforts to protects multimodal transportation funding, protect and connect trails, and better measure the economic benefit and health cost savings from bicycling.

Sure, an e-assist bike has a motor, but it rides like a bicycle. Sometimes e-bikes are treated like any other bicycle, but sometimes laws treat them as motor vehicles. Confusingly, one set of regulations ties e-assist bicycles, mopeds, motorized foot scooters and motorized assistive mobility scooters together in some — but not all — cases. E-bikes are allowed in bike lanes, but not sidewalks. They are also allowed on trails, except where local jurisdictions say they are not allowed. And local jurisdictions rarely make their exceptions clear to users.

It’s all a bit confusing, which is a problem both for users and for a growing industry that holds big promise for increasing access to bicycling to more Washington residents of all ages and abilities. Studies have demonstrated that riding an e-assist bike still provides a significant amount of exercise, which so many residents of our state do not get. So state leaders should be looking for ways to encourage more e-assist biking.

For example, Seattle’s extraordinarily popular Westlake bikeway is a bike lane, but do the connections on either end of the bikeway count as trails or sidewalks? What about the biking and walking paths leading to and crossing the Fremont and Montlake Bridges? I honestly can’t tell you the answer off the top of my head, and I’m a journalist who has been covering bicycle transportation for seven years. The line between “trail” and “sidewalk” is often very blurry. If you’re riding a bicycle, the difference doesn’t matter because both are legal. But if you’re on an e-bike, it technically does matter.

In reality, people with e-bikes just ride them like they are on a regular bicycle, and I’ve never seen any empirical evidence that this is causing any problems. I also haven’t heard of many (any?) cases where someone was been ticketed for riding an e-assist bike on a sidewalk. So why not just simplify state law to reflect how things are already working?

Washington Bikes is working on legislation this session in Olympia to help provide some clarity to at least some of the questions surrounding e-assist bike use. The simplest option, which the organization touted in a recent blog post, would be to align state definitions with national standards.

Under a 2002 Federal law, any e-bicycle with a 750-Watt (1 hp) or lower motor that stops providing power beyond 20 mph is legally considered the same as a normal bicycle. Notably, the Federal limit of 750 Watts is lower than Washington’s 1,000-Watt limit, so this change would decrease the power maximum. But since a simplification of the law should allow e-assist bikes on sidewalks, lowering the power level probably makes sense.

Unlike California law, existing WA and Federal laws do not differentiate between bikes with throttle controls that do not require pedaling and “pedelec” bikes with motors that only provide power while the rider is pedaling. And considering how quickly e-assist technology evolves, perhaps it’s wise not to be too prescriptive about bike specifications and definitions.

At least aligning state definitions with Federal law would clarify things a bit and provide a basic and commonly-followed guideline for deciding when a bicycle with an electric motor should just be treated like any other bicycle.

Though this change has been on WA Bikes’ to-do list for a long time now, the news earlier this week that LimeBike and Spin are both planning to launch pedelec-style e-bikes puts an extra emphasis on the need to simplify state law for users. Both companies say motors on their bikes won’t assist beyond 15 mph, which is 25 percent lower than WA and Federal limits.

Has riding an e-assist bike impacted your life? WA Bikes is collecting stories:

More on their 2018 legislative agenda, from WA Bikes:

Updating Washington’s electric-assist bicycle laws to national standards. The usage of electric-assist bicycles (e-bikes) is booming. They serve as a way to “flatten hills” across our hilly and mountainous state, and allow many who feel intimidated by biking a new opportunity to experience the freedom of two (or three) wheels. Rapid innovation in the e-bike industry has led to greater adoption and more e-bikes on streets and trails. Existing Washington state laws pertaining to e-bikes are outdated and fail to address all types of e-bikes currently on the market, as well as where they can go. The proposed legislation updates the classification system to give Washington state new tools to effectively enforce and manage e-bikes.

The e-bike industry endorses this framework and these national standards, which if enacted, will allow consistency in the Washington state market to laws now-adopted in states like Arkansas, California, Colorado, Tennessee, and others. Already state legislators are hearing from constituent e-bike riders who want clarity regarding where they are able to ride. Finally, the health benefits of e-bicycling are comparable to a brisk walk or low-intensity jog. E-biking for transportation and recreation results in stronger heart rates, lower blood sugar and body fat.1

  • Ask: Legislation to update electric-assist bicycle regulation, which will create a framework consistent with national standards. It will provide clear expectations for manufacturers, retailers and consumers in Washington state.

Protect the multimodal account so all Washingtonians can get around. Washington state is committed to investing in multimodal transportation options solutions beyond single-occupancy vehicles. The multimodal transportation account dedicates transportation funds for rail, ferries, transit, biking and walking, which are multimodal in nature.

These investments include: the bicycle and pedestrian grant program, regional mobility grants and Safe Routes to School programs and projects.

  • Defend: limited multimodal dollars must remain dedicated to the purpose of providing transportation choices and solutions and not diverted to solutions for electric single occupancy vehicles.

Measuring the economic impact & health cost savings of biking and hiking in Washington.Bicycle travel and tourism is big business and benefits Washington businesses with $3.1 billion in annual spending. Physical activity is another big benefit of bicycling and its particularly important as the nation addresses its obesity crisis and as our state’s children struggle with getting the recommended amount of daily physical activity.

In a partnership with the Washington Trails Association, Washington Bikes will be seeking funding for a study to be conducted by the Washington State Department of Commerce. The study will quantify the bicycle and hiking tourism industry and the health benefits from these forms of active recreation and transportation. This deeper dive, building on the Governor’s 2015 Taskforce on Outdoor Recreation and Parks (which was co-chaired by then-Washington Bikes Executive Director, Barb Chamberlain), will provide new strategies for health cost savings and grow our state’s economy, particularly in rural areas.

  • Ask: $125,000 to conduct the study on the economic and health benefits of hiking and biking for Washington state (Operating budget)

Protecting and connecting trails statewide. Trails form a backbone of many of the biking and walking networks statewide. Key project priorities include the development of the cross-state John Wayne Pioneer Trail, as well as the regional backbone for the East King County trail network, the Eastside Rail Corridor.

  • Support: (1) Support of State Park’s and Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) funding asks to protect and further develop the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. (Capital budget)
  • Support: (2) Support for investment in the Eastside Rail Corridor (ERC). This regional trail will provide connectivity for transportation and recreation. Specific ask for funding of the Wilburton Trestle in Bellevue, which will create an important connection on the ERC. (Capital budget)
  • Support: (3) Support of the full $80 million WWRP investment, including improving outdoor recreation opportunities, trail development and enhancing state parks. (Capital budget)
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38 Responses to E-assist bikes, trail connections and multimodal funding on WA Bikes 2018 state legislative agenda

  1. GlenBikes says:

    I do not own a car. My primary mode of transportation is bicycle, sometimes putting bike on bus/train, and occasionally using car share.

    I own a eAssist cargo bike very much like the one Kelly is riding in the pictures above. This allows me to much more easily transport multiple kids, pick up very heavy or very large items. I’ve transported solid wood furniture, towed bicycles to bike shops for repairs, transported Bike Everywhere Day station equipment to and from station location, among many other things. See https://twitter.com/search?q=%23quaxing

    Just as with my other bicycles, I ride where I feel safest which sometimes is in the street, sometimes in a bike lane, sometimes on trails and yes, sometimes on sidewalks. Whenever I bicycle on a sidewalk I go slow and respect all other users. The fact that I have a motor or not makes no difference. I could plow my cargo bike down a sidewalk and seriously injure numerous people whether I use the motor or not. The same goes for all my other pedal-only bicycles.

  2. Gary Yngve says:

    Yep, the laws are still in the Stone Age. King County says:
    “No motorized vehicles shall be allowed on King County trails. For the purposes of this section ‘motorized vehicles’ means any form of transportation powered by an internal combustion or electric motor. This includes but is not limited to automobiles, golf carts, mopeds, motor scooters, and motorcycles. This section shall not apply to wheelchairs powered by electric motors, or authorized maintenance, police or emergency vehicles”

    That means an e-assist bicycle cannot go on the 520 bridge or I-90 bridge.
    Sure, you can hope for prosecutorial discretion, but in a comparative fault state, operating an e-assist bicycle on a trail is a huge liability risk (IANAL).

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I believe the 520 and I-90 trails are state trails, not King County. But yeah, that King County definition desperately needs an update.

    • asdf2 says:

      If you can’t ride an e-bike on either the trail or the freeway, that means you effectively can’t cross the lake at all without going all the way around. This is nuts, especially on the 520 trail, which is 14 feet wide.

      I suppose the bus could be an option. According to the King County Metro website, e-bikes on buses are allowed, as long as the total weight of bike + attachments is under 55 lbs.

    • Kirk says:

      It is my understanding that all of the trails in King County, whether owned by Seattle, the state or other municipalities, all belong to the King County Regional Trails System (RTS) which is for nonmotorized uses only. The RTS is a partnership of many agencies including King County, the Washington State Department of Transportation, City of Seattle, and other cities. The RTS includes paved and unpaved trails.

  3. Damon says:

    “In reality, people with e-bikes just ride them like they are on a regular bicycle, and I’ve never seen any empirical evidence that this is causing any problems.”

    Is there any evidence either way? I’ve got a mountain of personal anecdata suggesting that, in aggregate, people on e-bikes like to stop at stop signs even less than people on regular bikes.

    It’s truthy — e-bikes tend to accelerate slowly, so people riding them particularly hate to lose that momentum. But that doesn’t mean it’s _true_ — might just be my bias as someone who dislikes getting passed by people who aren’t working at it. I’d love to see any kind of study of cycling habits of people on e-bikes vs. regular bikes.

    • tudza says:

      My electric bike was my main transportation for four years, all year round. The commute was only seven miles one way.

      That momentum business sure sounds like how people explain regular bike riders going through stop signs without stopping. Personally, I stopped and never noticed any worries about acceleration.

      Passed? Shoot, at the speed my bike was regulated at all the serious riders passed me. Know what it sounded like when I was riding the trail during the St Michelle ride? “On your left, on your left, on your left……..”

      On a hill, well I never bothered to pass people unless it was a really long hill, but I did have the advantage there.

      • Pdieter says:

        “EBikes tend to accurate slowly “. I’m not sure what dimension or planet this is the case but the acceration on my pedelec leaves all but the fastest 3% of acoustic bike riders coming off a green light or bridge opening. But I”m also a huge fan of the Idaho stop; being Boise born and all.

    • Damon says:

      Sure. Just goes to show: there are all kinds of e-bikes out there, and all kinds of riders on them, just as on regular bikes.

      I got passed by a shockingly zippy recumbent e-bike near UW a couple weeks ago. His acceleration was unbelievable, and his top speed had to have been north of 35mph. I’ve also seen many folks getting extremely slow starts, which is where I formed that idea about why they don’t want to stop.

      Not all e-cyclists, yadda yadda. But as these things get more popular, we’re going to have to figure out how to regulate them. None of the current regs know how to deal with a single-wheel skateboard that can do 20mph and can’t stop quickly without killing someone, either, but I see those almost every day on the Burke, now.

  4. Aaron says:

    It really doesn’t matter if a rider gets zero exercise on an e-bike. They are still operating a lightweight and small vehicle that has far less impact on public commons than an automobile or even a motorcycle or scooter. For that alone they deserve to be encouraged, even with an unhealthy rider. There is basically zero enforcement of any regulation on all bicycles, why would new updated rules change anything? Education is key.

    • alkistu says:

      Riders do get exercise on E Bikes, more often and without strain. We have converted bikes for people who just can’t handle our hills on a regular basis and now they are riding frequently and experiencing enjoyment in both the riding and the exercise.

      • Aaron says:

        Yes, I own and operate my own as well (two actually). I agree with all of the above but also assert that health benefits are not needed as justification for supporting this mode of transportation. Just taking up less room is enough.

  5. Andres Salomon says:

    Is no one going to mention the subtle “once our child is born” part? Congrats Tom? You’re not going to leave us all alone with SDOT for a 3 month paternity leave, are you?! *sobs*

  6. alkistu says:

    In our Green Party of Seattle position statement 2018 we have asked that the Seattle municipal E Bike code adopt the California code. Since as stated, the E Bikes are a great transportation solution they should not be regulated to be slower than the average road biker. Of course the current code has not been enforced and would be hard to manage but the question of liability and legal compliance is more to the point. We hope the Durkan office will consider this recommendation and further embrace all forms of lower carbon transportation.

  7. Genevieve says:

    King County desperately needs to change their laws as well. Every time I take the Burke Gilman or another similar trail with my Packster I’m breaking the rules. It’s ridiculous since I’m passed as often as I pass. Yes, my bike is assisted, but it weighs 100 lbs and usually has at least 65 lbs of kids on board. I’m not setting any speed records. In my time in Seattle I haven’t noticed any particular link between ebike use and running stop signs or other bad cyclists behavior. Nor am I aware of any objective evidence that such a tendency exists. Personally, I’m more inclined to come to complete stops on an ebike because it’s dramatically easier to get going again. Especially on uphill stretches.

  8. asdf2 says:

    I’ve been thinking on and off about using an e-bike for commuting between my home in Seattle and my job in Kirkland. It’s about 9 miles each way, with rolling hills. While I’ve done it on my conventional bike, it’s a bit far to do twice a day, 5 times a week. My employer’s bike cage even has an electrical outlet I could use for charging. (I’ll probably try it out a few times on an electric Spin or Lime bike and see if I like it before putting out the money to actually buy one for myself).

    That said, is electric bikes are outlawed on trails, such a commute becomes pretty much a non-starter. Without the 520 trail, there’s no good way to get across the lake, and without the Burke-Gilman trail, there’s no good way to get from my home to the 520 trail on the Seattle side.

    • Aaron says:

      Lots of e-bikes have plenty of range to make your round trip with no recharge. Mine is 40+. I’m curious about what Lime and Spin will put on the street but skeptical.
      Don’t be an ass and you really don’t need to sweat trail use enforcement.

    • Tim F says:

      I recently switched from a commuter/mountain bike to a well-designed mid-tail electric bike for an 8 to 10-mile commute. The hills are fairly long one way and fairly steep the other. I could do it before in 35 minutes under ideal conditions. That means using my road bike, clipped pedals, plenty of effort, direct route on arterial streets, dry conditions and good lighting and not carrying much. Wet winter days tended to approach 50 minutes on the safest possible route.

      Now I’m finding myself riding on wet winter days with no problem in between 35 and 40 minutes, depending on the lights. 15 miles an hour feels like 8. I’m sitting upright, so I can easily look around at traffic. The bike is a little heavier, the center of gravity and top bar are lower and I’m not leaning forward, and the brakes are great, so it all adds up to a lot more control. My average speed has only increased slightly and my top speed has surprisingly dropped. It’s speed limited at 20 MPH and I feel absolutely no need to make up time on the downhills. The big change is I can control my level of effort and choose my route, which is where most of the time savings come from. I’ve found myself taking arterial streets more often. I feel more visible. The big tires give me more control over potholes. I’m no longer struggling over uphill stretches, so I can be more aware of car traffic and manage the extra risk. Also a big part of the reason I wanted an assist is to run errands on the way to and from work. There are a lot more options now. While part of my route can be on the Burke-Gilman I have been turning the assist off for that stretch. But mostly I’m switching my route to protected bike lanes and direct routes on arterial streets. Most of those streets are planned to have protected lanes in the BMP. The future protected lanes make even more sense with the growing availability and affordability of electric assist.

  9. Stuart says:

    I’ve been commuting by bicycle since the 60s, off and on. About 13 years ago I was diagnosed with tachycardia and have been on a beta blocker since. This means I can’t get my heart rate up high enough to ride fast. Without my e-assist my commute would take too long and I’d have to give up bike commuting . The problem is that I ride on the Burke Gilman, so I am breaking the local (?) rules, I think. I get passed by strong, light riders a lot, but I always did, so I don’t think my speeds are particularly dangerous. It would be nice if the rules for the BGT were changed so that riders who need to could legally commute by e-bike.

    • Dan says:

      I agree, sensible access to trails for e-assisted bicycles should be allowed. This will help increase commuting by all forms of bicycles (mechanically assisted or electronically assisted).

      I imagine that high-speed users of trails may create a risk, I don’t think that burden is entirely on e-bikes given the speeds I have seen roadbikes reach.

      I would prefer to see e-assisted bicycles have access to multi-use trails rather than have them exposed to car traffic.

  10. Kirk says:

    I’ve seen plenty of ebikes going at least 30 MPH. One of my coworkers bought a pedal assist ebike and the dealer immediately upsold him to a throttle to bypass whatever limiter there was and he can throttle to 30MPH easily. I met a guy that bought a cheap Fred Meyer bike and got a conversion kit to modify it to a throttle ebike that easily goes 30 MPH. My concern is the closing speed of 60 MPH of these fast ebikes and their concurrent extra weight. These fast ebikes pass everyone on the fly and I can only imagine on trails getting busier and busier every day the nasty head on collisions.
    Ebikes are great on the street and in bike lanes. I don’t think they should be allowed on trails.

    • Stuart says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bicyclist doing 30 on the BGT, electric or not, unless on the downhill. 25 yes; 30, not likely. But, I won’t argue that some e-cycles aren’t overpowered and some cyclists don’t ride too aggressively. But if we make our rules so stringent that they exclude all of a class, harm is done to respectful riders who need the help that e-assist provides, including less able folks who need to ride the trail just like you able-bodied folks.

    • Perry says:

      I can imagine lots of terrible things but rational people don’t make laws based on worst case imaginings. Of course there are going to be idiots on ebikes doing stupid things, just as there are on regular bikes, hot pizza anyone? Existing criminal and civil law, if properly enforced, can deal with those truly reckless amongst us. For the record, I’ve seen one ebike rider that I know was going 35, smoking a cigarette and not pedaling in the least, the world didn’t end nor did my belief in j

  11. First off, I agree with the sentiments of many but I’m going to add some caveats.

    First and foremost, we don’t want to stymie anyone’s motivations for getting out of an automobile and out from under the financial and related burdens of owning and being tied to an automobile. This in the end is good for everybody… BUT…

    I worry about the same thing another person made in a comment, the closing speed on two unregulated e-bikes is 60mph. That impact will kill. End of story. E-bikes will and do add the possiblity of fatalities that currently do not exist. Simple fact of physics.

    Some may say, well cyclists can go that fast. Yeah, maybe on a carbon bike and for someone who is in really solid shape and is cranking really hard to get to that speed, but in reality barely a soul anywhere on any of the bike infrastructure, trails, or otherwise are closing at 60 mph. They’re likely closing at 20-26mph tops. Direct impact collision has both riders at a 99% or better survival rate.

    So that aside, I’d hate to see these vehicles banned from trails or anything. I think that is an idea that will stymie the progress and advancement of biking and of getting people out of their auto-dependency. which someone adding risk by e-biking is still dramatically LOWER than someone adding risk by adding one more car to the road. That’s risk to everybody, an e-bike – even unregulated, is going to be a smaller risk and I’d rather have that happening then continue to have people barreling around in unregulated cars.

    But I will say something I hate the idea of. Certain routes should have an upwards bound speed limit. For instance, on the Westlake trail 20 or 25mph should be the MAXIMUM. Likely it should be more around 20mph. I’d hate to set it as low as 15mph as that’s problematic, but considering the children at the school, pedestrians of all sorts doing business and loitering around the path, it just isn’t really a good idea to top out past 20-25mph.

    A few weeks ago someone on an unregulated e-bike clocked by doing at least 25 to 30 mph, I know for two reasons. I was traveling at 25 mph, cranking HARD and I was passed as if the e-bike rider rode without care. Didn’t announce passing, didn’t have lights (WTF?!?!) and generally was operating in a very questionable way, but it was a fat tire e-assist bike, like one of the RAD cycles. Not sure how he hot-rodded it, but he wasn’t peddling and was just using the motor.

    IMHO, I’m glad to see the guy not driving but he acted recklessly and in disregard to others in operation this way. The bike and speed limits need properly put in check on these routes as more and more people travel by bike or we will start seeing an uptick in fatalities or other serious injuries. The simple fact is, cyclists have been a small community that generally operate in a particular way (at worst a, “hey watch out” always worked) but now there are people of all walks of life riding that do NOT operate in similar ways and introduce unknowns that will end up getting people hurt.

    So while I do NOT want e-bikes curtailed (or worse, like in NYC banned, which is just outright idiotic), and would even say I want a cargo bike just like y’all picked up! I do think we as a community need to start getting some enforceable designs, practices, and rules/laws into place around operation speeds, behaviors, and related guides to keep things safe. This is also NOT a call for a license or what not, but simply putting the rules and laws into place, speed limits on some routes, etc. Do NOT ban the bikes from trails or whatever, but setup rules and laws for them in these places.

    It’s, as this blog post points out very well, next to impossible to inform people effectively what is a trail vs bike whatever vs some other piece of infrastructure. People will simply just NOT know these things, but a few simple standard rules/laws around other things (or even speed regulations on the manufacturers) will go a long way vs. the random unenforceable nothing that we have around this now.

  12. Alkibkr says:

    Shouldn’t speed limits on sidewalks and multi-use trails cover it as long as legal restrictions against motorized bikes are removed? I also think throttle bikes probably don’t belong on sidewalks or multi-use trails, but that is just personal bias.

    I can’t imagine that bike share companies are going to make a profit off e-bikes due to vandalism/theft issues. But it could turn on a lot of people to using an e-bike to get around the city.

    Regularly hauling 60 lbs of groceries while having lots of fun on a Faraday…..

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  14. Skylar says:

    I have no problem seeing electric bikes on trails or bike lanes. If you want to ask me what I think about the gas-powered crotch rockets that were going up and down the SR-520 trail by Kirkland last week, though…

  15. Carl says:

    While I consider e-bikes to be mopeds, the traffic issues around here say we should allow them on paved bike trails. That said, pedal assist only, no throttle and I think a 15-18mph speed limit that is actually enforced. If you want to go 20mph+ you should be on the street. I say this as a former bike racer who can pretty easily go 20mph on a normal road bike and who commutes on the burke regularly ( at 15-17mph or so). Multiuse trails are for cruising not going fast.

  16. Nick says:

    Great for paved trails. The ban on trail access, generally, should remain. Though they look like bikes, but they’re essentially low powered motorcycles. If they’re equated with bicycles this will open up a regulatory can of worms if they’re allowed on non-paved trails. Hikers fought MTB access for decades. WA Bikes may be friendly with WTA now… this will bring the fight to the city.

    I’d rather see specific trails have signage that allows ebike access, rather than language that simply equates ebikes and human powered bikes. If you think this isn’t a big deal, just visit some MTB forums and observe the noise. The same will happen in the urban sphere.

  17. Truth says:

    There’s a guy I see regularly, on the BGT and Westlake cycle track, riding an e-assist bike, with massive tires and the ability to do about 30 MPH. It’s semantically a moped with pedals. You get hit by him, you’re in trouble.

    Then there’s the people with massive 100+ lb e-assist bikes. Why is it so big? To put a single seat for a single child on it. You get hit by them, you’re in trouble.

    What I’m reading here is that us 99% cyclists should give up our feeling of safety and comfort so that a couple people can get to work without breaking a sweat or fighting traffic.

    The law will never be overturned.

    • Andres Salomon says:

      I’ve never done something, but I have a strong opinion about how other people should do it!


  18. dR says:

    I get the sense that you haven’t traveled with children and an e-assist. It is slower and more controlled than one might imagine, both because of safety (parents like their kids) and because of the weight.

    Larger family bikes, you’ll also notice if you take a closer look, have a lower center of gravity which makes them less likely to just randomly veer into other bikes (which I really don’t see happen in general — I’m not really understanding what your fear is).

    Perhaps you’d benefit emotionally from a test ride. There are several shops and nonprofits and kind families who are willing to help you get a better sense of what their bikes are actually like and capable of so you can continue to feel safe and comfortable on bike paths.

  19. Damon says:

    I don’t think anyone here has said a word specifically against the behavior of parents on e-bikes with kids, and I’ll go one further and be explicit about it: I’ve never had a negative encounter with a parent with kid(s) on an e-bike.

    Maybe someday I will. But, in my experience so far, parents with kids on board are not the ones doing 30, running without lights at night and slamming through the traffic-filled 4-way stop by the Ballard Fred Meyer without slowing down.

  20. Shirley says:

    WHAT! Nobody knows family bike goals like the Mama Bears. All I want to do is use my cargo bike to plow stuff over. https://twitter.com/NoSpandexReq/status/953299482501763072

  21. db says:

    I think this conversation would be significantly easier if the max power of these things were reduced substantially. There is no reason for an 80 pound (+?) e-assist fat bike to go 20 mph up a hill while sharing infrastructure with bikes that typically go 6-8 mph on that hill. There is no reason for that power on a bike trail let alone a multi-use trail with kids walking around, and if you really want to get to work that fast get a motorcycle and use streets and lanes designed for it.

    Rather than focus on max speed the focus should be on max assist. I understand that bikes can go fast too, but you’re talking a small percentage of riders that can go so fast that may be a problem (and they are typically experienced if they are fast). With e-bikes every rider is potentially a problem. The guy who learned to ride a bike yesterday is a potential problem.

    A max assist would also encourage manufacturers to make small, lightweight bicycles rather than these pseudo-motorcycles with fat tires and dual kickstands. I think those things could cause more damage than many small motorcycles.

    As for speed limits on trails, I see no issue with speed limits for powered bikes and no speed limit (beyond safe for conditions) with regular bikes. They are two substantially different modes of transportation and should be treated as such. We do it with trucks and cars on many highways.

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