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E-Bikes: What you should know
The rise of the e-bike market has generated lots of excitement and also lots of questions. At the 2018 National Bike Summit, we are hosting a panel of industry experts to address these questions. Morgan Lommele of PeopleforBikes / Bicycle Product Suppliers Association answers many of those questions below.
E-bikes represent a bicycle-like transportation and recreation option on roads and public lands, reduce vehicle use and emissions, increase opportunities to bicycle for individuals with physical barriers and provide a unique, emissions- and noise-free recreation activity. As the user base for electric bicycles grows annually — in 2016, e-bikes represented 1% of sales in the bicycle market and in 2017 that number rose to 7% — ridership and engagement are also increasing.
With more people using e-bikes to replace vehicle trips and augment existing bicycle trips comes many questions and challenges. What are e-bikes? Is this a trend? Are the bikes or motorcycles? Who is using them? Where are they allowed? Public sentiment is strong in either direction and the e-bike panel at the National Bike Summit will seek to answer a few of those questions and foster dialogue between advocacy and industry.
The following panelists will cover the basics on e-bikes, demographics, technical specifications, regulatory options, what areas currently allow them, resource and user studies, management examples, studies and case studies:
- Morgan Lommele, E-bike Campaigns Manager, PeopleForBikes/Bicycle Product Suppliers Association
- Alex Logemann, State and Local Policy Director, PeopleForBikes
- Thomas Jenkins, owner, Shenandoah Bicycle Company, Harrisonburg, VA
- Todd Ketch, owner, Pedego Alexandria, Alexandria, VA
Attend the session on Monday, March 5 at 3:30 pm ET to join the conversation. Want to learn a bit more about e-bikes before in the meantime? Here’s what you need to know.
- What are e-bikes and why do people ride them? E-bikes are similar to traditional bicycles, but have a low-speed electric motor that provides a boost of power to climb hills, extend a trip, and allow people to bike more often. E-bikes vary widely in terms of shape and size - commuter, cruiser, touring, fat bike, mountain bike, tandem, recumbent and others.
- Are e-bikes safe? These low-speed e-bikes are as safe and sturdy as traditional bicycles, and move at similar speeds.
- What are the three classes of e-bikes?
- Class 1: A bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
- Class 2: A bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
- Class 3: A bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour, and is equipped with a speedometer.
- Are e-bikes motorcycles? E-bikes resemble traditional bicycles in both appearance and operation, and do not function similarly to mopeds, scooters and other motorized vehicles. Motor bikes have a much great power output and are generally internal-combustion engine vehicles with emissions and associated noise.
- Where can you ride an e-bike? In states that have passed the three-class system and in states where e-bikes are defined as bicycles in the state’s vehicle and traffic laws, e-bikes are generally allowed to ride wherever a traditional bicycle is allowed. There is an effort to streamline e-bike laws in all 50 states, so that in the future, e-bike laws are clear and consistent across states.