E-bike legislation progressing in California, stalled in New York

Courtesy of People For Bikes

Two bills that will modernize California and New York’s vehicle and traffic laws for electric bicycles have progressed in their respective state legislatures with just a few steps left to go into effect. Both bills will clarify confusion at the state level to define and regulate electric bicycles as bicycles, not motor vehicles, and create safety and operational criteria for their use.

In California, AB 1096 (Chiu, D-San Francisco) passed the State Assembly on May 22 with 74 in favor and 0 against. Before reaching the Assembly floor, the bill sailed through the Assembly Committee on Transportation hearing as well as the Appropriations Committee, also without opposition. The bill faces a bigger hurdle in the Senate and will be heard by the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee in late June. California advocates and industry have been meeting in order to craft the regulatory framework that best enables more people to ride bicycles in California.

The California bill defines three classes of electric bicycle: Class 1, with a 20 mph top assisted speed and pedal-assist; Class 2 with a 20 mph top assisted speed and throttle assist; and Class 3 with a 28 mph top assisted speed and pedal assist; all with a maximum power output of 750 watts.

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Products like the Haibike Xduro we reviewed would be classified as a Class 1 e-bike, because the electric assist is limited to 20 mph.

 

In New York, S.997-Dilan, which would amend the vehicle and traffic law for electric bicycles but not define classes, passed the State Senate, 59-3, on May 19, after a 15-4 vote in the Committee on Transportation, but the identical bill, A.233-Gantt, did not make it to the Assembly floor for a vote in the recently-ended session. It is expected that the bill will be heard in the next 2016 legislative session.

Although A.233-Gantt carried wide ranging support from the New York City Department of Transportation, a majority of Assembly members, national bicycle manufacturers and New York retailers, the bill faced many challenges, including changes in leadership in the Assembly and Senate, a difficult sponsor, and opposition from the City of New York.

On the advice of the expert team of lobbyists who counsel the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association, New York Bicycling Coalition, and PeopleForBikes on this bill, there is opportunity to take the time between sessions to build a strong base of support outside the bicycling community to ensure passage in the next session. Between now and early 2016, the team will work primarily to cultivate a coalition partners – environmental advocates, tourism groups, chambers of commerce, business groups, and consumer protection groups – that can demonstrate wide-ranging support for the bill; hold regional legislative hearings; host community board meetings in New York City; connect district members with strategic coalition partners; engage local elected officials in strategic districts; and lead a community grassroots effort in support of electric bicycle legislation.

The group will also consider modifying A.233-Gantt’s language and potentially finding a new Assembly sponsor for the bill. Currently, the New York bill is consistent with the existing federal definition of electric bicycles, with a 750-watt maximum power output and a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.

In addition to California and New York, electric bicycle legislation has advanced in other states. So far during the 2015 session, bills to regulate electric bicycles like traditional bicycles passed in Nebraska and Montana. A new law governing electric bicycle use also passed one chamber of the state legislature in South Carolina, and will be taken up by the Senate in January 2016. BPSA and PeopleForBikes also intend to advance state electric bicycle legislation in Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Missouri, Tennessee and Utah in late 2015 and 2016.

Updated regulations open thousands of bicycle paths to electric bicycles and allow people to understand where they can ride by removing confusing and restricting rules. These bills will encourage more consumers to purchase and use electric bicycles and make it easier for independent bicycle dealers to sell electric bicycles to new and existing bicycle riders.

This work is the result of a partnership between the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association, PeopleForBikes, and local advocacy groups to monitor and improve electric bicycle regulations and to support the efforts of local and state level advocacy organizations.

 

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MotoGP champs given e-bikes for paddock use

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Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and Winora Group have presented the new Haibike SDURO e-bikes to the Yamaha MotoGP teams today at the Circuito de Jerez de la Frontera in Spain ahead of this Sunday’s event, the fourth on the racing calendar.


 Check out our first impressions of the Haibike we’ve been riding for a few months now!


The German specialty bicycle manufacturer supplied three Haibike SDURO e-bike models to the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team—home of nine-time world champion and currently series leader Valentino Rossi—to be used as environmentally-friendly paddock bikes at the European rounds of the 2015 MotoGP season.

Winora was established in 1914 and Yamaha has been supplying Power Assist System E-KITs for the high-tech Winora model e-bikes since 2013. Winora presented nine e-bikes in total, equipped with Yamaha E-KITs, to the Yamaha MotoGP teams during a ceremony on the main straight of the circuit in Jerez.

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“The Haibike SDURO e-bikes fit Movistar Yamaha MotoGP perfectly, not only thanks to their special color schemes matching the team’s design, but also due to the models’ refined yet exciting character,” said Susanne Puello, Managing Director of Winora Group. “The Haibike line is the high-end brand of Winora and the SDURO model is especially designed for sporty customers such as Rossi and four-time World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, making the transportation within the paddock areas fun and stress free.”

Yamaha has been a pioneer in the development of electrically power-assisted bicycles since 1993, when the company became actively involved in building the e-bike market in Japan. In Europe, Yamaha supplies its E-KITs to several bicycle manufacturers, including Haibike.

 

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First Impression: Haibike XDURO Trekking RX

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Electric bikes are setting the cycling industry and community abuzz. Manufactures are excited about this “new segment” of the market and are quick to point out the virtues of electric bikes for facilitating commuting and a greener lifestyle, as well as bringing non-cyclists into the fold. The cycling community is quick to point out that, technically, electric bikes could be considered a motorized vehicle—it does have an electric motor afterall—and thus, shouldn’t be allowed on trails designated for human power only.

In reality, it seems both of these perspectives have merit. With this conflict in mind, I agreed to review Haibike’s XDURO Trekking RX. As a long-time cyclist, I went into this review siding most closely with the community’s skepticism. At the same time, the idea of having some assist during my 14-mile round trip commute this winter had a lot of appeal.

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On my very first commute, it was clear my electric assist fantasy was every bit as good as I had imagined. Bosch’s sophisticated Performance mid-drive system used on this Haibike is impressively engineered with an easy-to-use human interface and smooth, reliable power output. The 350 Watt electric motor roughly doubles the output of the average in-shape cycling enthusiast, so it really is quite speedy. Speedy, at least up to 19 mph where the system begins to taper off assist prior to cutting out altogether at 20 mph.

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Governing maximum assist speed to 20 mph has been a legislative maneuver to manage the small but growing demand for e-bikes. My home state of Pennsylvania recently legalized e-bikes for on-road use, utilizing the definition “pedalcycle with electric assist” in the process. What hasn’t yet been fully addressed is the legality of using e-bikes on non-motorized trails-to-trails-style trails.

At this point, it’s a little bit of a wild-west scenario. As I currently understand the situation, these regulations are to be made on a case-by-case basis by the locality with jurisdiction over any given trail. Most of these local entities haven’t yet ruled on the pedal assist issues since there has been little need to do so to this point, largely due to the limited number e-bikes currently in circulation.

But, as e-bikes like this become increasingly widespread, it will be interesting to see how these bikes are managed. After spending time on the Haibike, I’m convinced e-bikes can play a vital role in lessening our reliance on fossil fuels for transportation.

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Look for the complete review of the Haibike XDURO Trekking RX in issue #35 of Bicycle Times. Subscribe by April 30, 2015 to have that issue delivered to your home or electronic device.

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