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« Making sense of eBay prices | Main | 1983 John Howard in Mint Condition »
Monday
Dec052016

Ebikes, problem or no?

 

Steath Ebike. 5,000 Watts. 50 mph.

I don’t want to be a kill-joy right before Christmas, and the sudden proliferation of electric assisted bikes, and the lack of regulations for said bikes, I find quite alarming.

There will be a lot of teens and even pre-teens getting one of these this holiday season. And the scary part is, they will receive little or no safety instruction for riding these new machines. Even 20 mph is too fast, if you ride against traffic, or on the sidewalk,

No license is required, so no driving test to pass, or training to pass such a test. I am concerned for my own safety, what do I do if I find one of these coming towards me at 20 mph, or they suddenly appear out of nowhere, from a side street or driveway.

And pedestrians, you thought pedal bicycles were a problem on hiking trails. You ain’t seen nothing yet. Now there are ebikes out there capable of 50 mph. These may not even be street legal, but this is the problem, regulations are sketchy, and there are so many grey areas. Use on off road trails will be one of them. And if 50 mph ebikes are available, they are going to find their way on the streets, legal or not.

It is not that I consider ebikes inherently dangerous, the problem is this. It is more likely that one of these machines will be ridden by someone inexperienced, making them a danger to themselves and others.

Bicycles can be dangerous if used without regard for safety rules and regulations, or even just plain old common sense. But the difference is a pedal bicycle can only go as fast as its rider can pedal. With a power assisted ebike the top speed begins at 20 mph, and it appears it is increasing from there.

What are your thoughts, am I over reacting?

Here is some more reading:

https://www.electricbike.com/dangers/

https://www.electricbike.com/10-fastest-ebikes/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_bicycle_laws

 

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Reader Comments (12)

eBikes are motorcycles/mopeds/scooters, depending upon top speed and should require the same registration and licensing. As an example, here are the registration guidelines for limited use motorcycles in New York State:

https://dmv.ny.gov/registration/register-moped

Note that the minimum requirement for operation is a driver's license.

My understanding is that eBikes may be sold in New York State, however, they currently cannot be registered and are effectively illegal to ride. There have been crackdowns in New York City from time to time, which is interesting since they are sold in many bicycle shops including some high-profile shops (e.g., NYCE wheels, which is a well-known Brompton dealer)

I would be fine if the state covered them under the limited use motorcycle guidelines. Any any event, eBikes do not belong on sidewalks, greenways or trails that do not permit motor vehicle use. eBike are routinely operated on NYC greenways and are a hazard to cyclists and pedestrians. I pullover and stop when I see one heading in my direction.

They are not bicycles. They should not be operated by individuals who do not possess a driver's license.

December 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDave

The day is coming when some bozo riding an ebike will clobber some pedestrian crossing a "protected bike lane." i can see a backlash coming against ALL bicycles and their riders, as the first reaction by the general public and lawmakers is overreaction. Look out for the banning of all bicycles from streets and trails.
i've been called a curmudgeon and worse for my attitude toward power-assisted cycles. i agree with Dave that these are NOT bicycles, but the Powers That Be will never understand that. i see dark times ahead for bikes and bicycling as we know them.

December 5, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermike w.

I was riding last week, on the one of the Walk jog ride paths in Parker Colorado that IS sign posted NO motorized vehicles, A woman on a sit up and beg bike went past me at at least 25 mph (Sign posted 15 MPH?) She stopped at a rest area and I asked her about her bike. She got it a few weeks ago at a local bike shop, did not know about the signs etc. She said she has some health issues and the shop had told her it would be OK to ride on the paths?? Also I read about a woman racer in I think Belgium that was D/Q for have a motor assisted racing bike SHE WAS UPSET AND CRYING her Dad had fixed it up for her to RACE on??

December 5, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjohn Crump

An ebike rental place opened up this summer and I got to see, firsthand, what really happens when inexperienced ebike riders start to become numerous. I'm happy to say that most of the fears are unjustified. Most of the riders ride in the same direction as traffic, on the road (rather than on the sidewalk), though they don't necessarily stop at stop signs. Fortunately, there are not really all that many stop signs around. On balance, I think the ebike presence helps condition motorists to expect bicycles to control the lane rather than slink along at the edge of the ditch.

December 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteve A

Steve A,

Same thing here. At an e-bike rental place in my seaside town, a girl trying the bike out lurched across the road, hit the curb head-on and went over the handlebars. Ambulance, hospital, etc. A two-second ride with thousands of dollars in medical bills.
That shop rents to people who ride the local bike path like people who a) have no idea how to ride a bike, and b) suddenly have the ability to go 20-25mph. A bad mix. The signs say "No motorized bikes," but this shop I mentioned sends them going one after another. I now ride at 6 am to avoid the chaos.

December 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEd

I have been grazed a few times as a pedestrian by ebikes.
Some simple rules are needed.
1. weight limit
2. speed limit (maybe 18mph or so)
3. requirement that they make noise

A silent, 30mph vehicle that weighs 50+ pounds before adding a rider is not a bike under any definition. They should require a license if they are too large and/or fast.

December 6, 2016 | Unregistered Commenteredstainless

We are trying to define and legalize low speed (<20mph) electric assist bikes in SC right now, through efforts of the Palmetto Cycling Coalition. We have a model, local ordinance that can be used locally to restrict them from use on sidepaths, sidewalks, and greenways. We recommend this. If we were not active in the SC legislature right now, we might have seen advancements of horrendous things like requiring bicyclists carry liability insurance and outlawing e-bikes entirely. E-bikes allow others to ride who have disabilities or other physical limits, which is great, but there are plenty of concerns about those rigged to ride too fast, which is why we drafted legislation to define those with low-speed, and to be defined under current rights and duties of bicyclists in SC (which stem from PCC's 2008 state bike law update).

December 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Johnson Ely

A potential problem here in Germany where the regulations lag behind the technical developments - as always. I suspect the majority of buyers to be senior citizens now often moving faster than they would on an un-assisted bike. But as yet I've neither read nor heard of serious accidents.

December 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony C.

There are tens of thousands of these on the roads in China, and hundreds of accidents, even more than a few pedestrian fatalities.

At least in Germany the pedestrians and cycles are fairly well separated. Most places don't have such a system.

December 8, 2016 | Unregistered Commenteredstainless

" Fairly well " sums it up. I remember watching news film from old China with all those bikes and thinking what will happen should they one day all have cars. Well now we know. And now e-bikes.............

December 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony C.

Today German media report a significant rise in E-Bike accidents many involving senior citizens. There are now over half a million such machines on the roads.

January 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony C.

Hanover, Germany, 8.2.17. Press reports of an E-Bike battery self-igniting and the shop the bike was standing in being completely burned out. A rather late but not uninteresting addition to our discussion ?

February 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony C.

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