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Licenses for E-Bikes?

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Old 07-10-18, 12:47 AM
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raria
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Licenses for E-Bikes?

Hi,

What are people's thoughts on licenses for e-bikes?

I'm not saying anyone on this forum is a danger to themselves or can't ride but I raise the issue because I'm in the wine growing regions of France now where many people come to ride amongst the vineyards. I highly recommend it.

However, the attraction of e-bikes is that now many people can ride who have never (or not much) cycled before and are given bikes that can go 20 mph. It also gives them ability to climb hills they could never have climbed before and places them in situations they have no experience in. They are a menance to to other cyclist but mainly to themselves. Saw one person cook a turn on a descent and end up in rusty barbed wire.

This problem will only get bigger as e-bikes become cheaper and better and will extend beyond tourist areas.

I was discussing with a few people that perhaps a car drivers license would be sufficient and then a person riding a bike with disk brakes crashes into a stroller (thankfully no damage to kids). So now I'm not so sure a car drivers license is sufficient, just like its not to drive a motor cycle.
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Old 07-10-18, 08:50 AM
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I am afraid it's a slippery slope. I mean developing an institution to license e-bike, to regulate it, to tax it, to prevent certain people from riding it, to courage others. That can be turned into an instructment to regulate normal bikes too. My fear is it wold be so easy for revenue hungery local gov't or anti-bike officials to abuse its power.

I haven't seen any e-bike crashing into baby strollers. If someone does crash into a baby, we can use existing laws (reckless riding, civil law suits) to punish reckless cyclists and deter others from reckless e-bike behavior.

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Old 07-10-18, 12:52 PM
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Seriously? I can pedal my bike up to 24mph on level ground quite easily and with a nice downslope?? Who knows! Just because a person is FIT does not mean they have the judgement to operate a bicycle but ... they can. So? Require licensing for regular bicycles as well? Seems only fair. Somebody bored?
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Old 07-10-18, 01:00 PM
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I'm surprised e-bikes (and gas powered bikes) aren't regulated similar to mopeds.

The question, of course, should be what would be the advantage of licensing bikes and riders. For bikes, perhaps tracking down ones doing stupid stuff, but that wouldn't necessarily be a big deal. Most police stop vehicles they see committing infractions, and ignore nebulous complaints. I suppose with more cameras, there might be a greater benefit of tagging bikes.

As far as licensing riders... perhaps not a bad idea. But, make the licensing reasonable. Perhaps limit kids under 16 from riding them (they should be exercising anyway).
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Old 07-10-18, 01:03 PM
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Oh, I've thought a bit about E-Cargo-Bikes. A bit like a tiny vehicle or truck. 2 wheels? 3 wheels? Some standards should be in place such as brakes, lights, controls, power, speed, etc. Insurance?

Again, be judicious about what and why.
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Old 07-10-18, 01:06 PM
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Mopeds were very popular when gas was expensive in the late '70s. I had one like a lot of other teenagers. It could go up to 30 mph on level ground (although I usually rode it at 20-25 in a bike lane or wide streets). By the early '80s they had all but disappeared from the road. Why? I think the price of gas falling had something to do with it, but the main reason was in CA the legislature put licensing and insurance requirements into place. Most kids just figured at that point the hassle wasn't worth it and opted to either ride a bicycle (which were rapidly getting much nicer and cheaper) or drive a car (or go all in with an actual motorcycle). The fixed costs of owning a moped just didn't pencil out any longer.

I can see a similar situation happening with e-bikes. Their performance is pretty close to what my old moped could do (I've been startled more than once by e-bikes passing me on some of the numerous 8% grades on Mercer Island WA). I'd like to see alternatives to automobiles for people's mobility, but OTOH, it feels like some regulation is going to be put into place if there are more performance tweaks and more of these bikes on the road.
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Old 07-10-18, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Oh, I've thought a bit about E-Cargo-Bikes. A bit like a tiny vehicle or truck. 2 wheels? 3 wheels? Some standards should be in place such as brakes, lights, controls, power, speed, etc. Insurance?

Again, be judicious about what and why.
Insurance? Hmmm. If I was an underwriter I would want at least double what the average driver pays to insure one of those things. At least double. So how is the poor sod to make a living?
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Old 07-10-18, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Insurance? Hmmm. If I was an underwriter I would want at least double what the average driver pays to insure one of those things. At least double. So how is the poor sod to make a living?
Could you justify that?

Insurance comes in 3 forms.
  • Liability insurance. Running into stuff. It may well be less of a risk than a motor vehicle. Can it stop quickly? Slow speeds. Small footprint... etc.
  • Collision Insurance. Vehicle is cheap. Not much there to worry about. Many car drivers drop collision insurance if there aren't payments, and value is < $5000 or so. Blame the other driver?
  • Body injury insurance. This is probably the one place where one would likely choose to bump up the rates... again, some will depend on fault.

At some point, one should be able to start developing actual risk statistics. There may not be a lot of the E-Cargo-Bikes on the road in the USA, but one could look at their use globally.
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Old 07-10-18, 01:25 PM
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there are so many variants of "e-bikes" that really clear definitions would need to apply and have clear slopes between licensed and non licensed, then you have scooters, electric motor cycles there is Pedal assist, where the motor helps, but you can't start the bike on just a motor, or really ride it that far unless you pedal that far, but I see these going pretty fast and far with minimal pedalingand there is Electric, where the bike (really not a bike) does not need any pedaling

beyond that there then get to be criteria for roadworthiness like like lights, break lights etc

I think the simplest way to regulate is:

If a vehicle (bike, scooter, boosted skate board, etc) can go faster than 18 MPH on the flat without any human assist, the operator should be required to have a drivers license, and no sidewalks

If a vehicle can go faster than 25 mph on the flat without any human assist then, the vehicle needs to be licensed and meet defined roadworthiness standards along with the operator being licensed

this is just first shot at speeds but seem reasonable
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Old 07-10-18, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Seriously? I can pedal my bike up to 24mph on level ground quite easily and with a nice downslope?? Who knows! Just because a person is FIT does not mean they have the judgement to operate a bicycle but ... they can. So? Require licensing for regular bicycles as well? Seems only fair. Somebody bored?
I'm with you on this. People can (and do) ride fast, dangerously and/or irresponsibly regardless of the type of the bike they're on. I see no need to single out e-bikes.
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Old 07-10-18, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by SClaraPokeman View Post
Mopeds were very popular when gas was expensive in the late '70s. I had one like a lot of other teenagers. It could go up to 30 mph on level ground (although I usually rode it at 20-25 in a bike lane or wide streets). By the early '80s they had all but disappeared from the road. Why? I think the price of gas falling had something to do with it, but the main reason was in CA the legislature put licensing and insurance requirements into place. Most kids just figured at that point the hassle wasn't worth it and opted to either ride a bicycle (which were rapidly getting much nicer and cheaper) or drive a car (or go all in with an actual motorcycle). The fixed costs of owning a moped just didn't pencil out any longer.

I can see a similar situation happening with e-bikes. Their performance is pretty close to what my old moped could do (I've been startled more than once by e-bikes passing me on some of the numerous 8% grades on Mercer Island WA). I'd like to see alternatives to automobiles for people's mobility, but OTOH, it feels like some regulation is going to be put into place if there are more performance tweaks and more of these bikes on the road.
There are certain vehicles that laws make ownership reasonable for kids.

In Italy, I think there was a period from about age 14 to 18 when mopeds were legal, and cars weren't. Thus the mopeds were very popular with young school kids.

In Sweden, the "A-Traktors" are popular with the kids, again because of a loophole allowing kids to operate slow moving vehicles.

Good? Bad?

E-Bikes may slip into a similar loophole for kids. Can/should we get driving ages increased to 18? Is having parents teaching kids to drive important?

But, the question is whether the e-bikes will remain viable for adults. For better or worse, I think some of the appeal is the lack of regulation. But, they are also much less intrusive than motorized bikes. I.E. to some, they seem like fancy bicycles.
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Old 07-10-18, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Insurance? Hmmm. If I was an underwriter I would want at least double what the average driver pays to insure one of those things. At least double. So how is the poor sod to make a living?
Competitive insurance rates would be based on the cost of the claims that need to be paid plus some extra for administrative expenses and profits. Liability coverage (i.e. for damage you do to others) is the only type generally required by law for motor vehicles and I'd expect this to be very inexpensive if required for electric bikes. Due to the limited weight and speed, e-bikes are going to create far less property damage than other larger vehicles in the event of a collision and also far less chance of serious injury or death of anyone you may hit while riding one.

I'm currently covered for liability on my bicycles under my home owner's policy automatically and it's considered such a small additional risk that they don't even ask about bicycle use when determining the premium.
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Old 07-10-18, 05:33 PM
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In my state e-bikes are classed as moped and require license to operate, annual registration and safety check. But it doesn't seem to be enforced, except the mayor used that to stop Lime from offering dockless e-scooters (mopeds illegal on sidewalk).

The idea you have to have a "license" in order to move about seems contrary to basic liberty.

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Old 07-10-18, 05:46 PM
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I ride with a club of recreational riders and I feel much more threatened by other cyclists than motorized traffic. People on bicycles generally have no idea about safe riding. Having said that, I really hope we don't end up licensing anything that has wheels.
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Old 07-10-18, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by scott967 View Post
In my state e-bikes are classed as moped and require license to operate, annual registration and safety check. But it doesn't seem to be enforced, except the mayor used that to stop Lime from offering dockless e-scooters (mopeds illegal on sidewalk).

The idea you have to have a "license" in order to move about seems contrary to basic liberty.

scott s.
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Really..??? Well now, it seems our "liberty" is,/MUST be, being eroded by needing a licence to drive a car too... No.? as for the E-Bike licencing, or moped thing, there already are rules/laws for that, too...
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Old 07-10-18, 08:32 PM
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Ebikes are already regulated in many states in the USA..... some different from others.
In California, a class 1 ebike, no throttle, pedal assist only, shuts off at 20 miles per hour, is regulated the same as....................a bicycle.
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Old 07-10-18, 09:36 PM
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There aren't enough of them around here that anyone has thought about it much.
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Old 07-10-18, 09:56 PM
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In my view, it's reasonable to wait until there's a problem. So far, e-bikes have not caused mayhem in my locale.

As for insurance, I think if you could add bike insurance to a regular car policy, your rates would actually go down, because you can do less damage with a bike. Make my day.
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Old 07-10-18, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by jon c. View Post
There aren't enough of them around here that anyone has thought about it much.
I think they're coming quickly. It is hard to say how many. Maybe 1% to 5% of the bicycles?

But, they generally seem to be mixing with the bikes ok, and don't seem to be causing any major problems. So, as long as they aren't killing or injuring a bunch of pedestrians, or other cyclists, then they can be largely ignored.

I do a fair amount of pedal powered personal cargo hauling. Again, just mixing in with the other bikes.

But, an earlier topic had me thinking about a commercial endeavor of using a small 3 wheeled bike/truck for parcel delivery. I suppose I should review the local laws very carefully, but it really makes one think a bit of where an e-bike would cross the line from a bicycle to a motorized vehicle.

Some countries have embraced the mini-pickups and mini-trucks. Here in the USA, the government will use them a bit, as well as off-street on private campuses. However, they really haven't been made available to the general public.

So, could an E-Cargo-Bike cross that line? And, should it make a difference?

And, for a business, one would hit insurance needs. And, for the few hundred, or few thousand cargo trikes across the country, there likely just isn't enough data to really determine risk factors.
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Old 07-10-18, 10:04 PM
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What about requiring helmets on E-Bikes?
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Old 07-10-18, 11:21 PM
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Reckless people will have accidents, whether there is a license or not. Cars and drivers kill people by the thousands.

Itís not necessary to license e-bikes, especially when they are already speed regulated. Bicycles, e-bikes, and mopeds of various sorts are transportation for those who do not have cars. Some of these people have disabilities which prevent them from driving legally, but do not prevent them from using other means. Laws do not take into consideration the particular nature of the individualís disability. Requiring a driverís license, or other license, unnecessarily makes life more difficult and more dangerous for these people. (For example, someone could ride a low powered moped, or e-bike, but a license is required, so they have to ride a bicycle, which is more dangerous, more physically demanding, and has more limited range.) Restricting ownership and rights when it is not necessary has an immense negative impact on these peopleís ability to work, be independent, and live a full life.

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Old 07-10-18, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Matt74 View Post
Reckless people will have accidents, whether there is a license or not. Cars and drivers kill people by the thousands.
I think that is a big part of it. Cyclists kill maybe a couple of people a year, while car drivers kill tens of thousands. But, we'll see what the future brings as technology evolves.

I wouldn't be surprised if there have been E-Cyclists killed. However, have any killed anybody else yet?

Originally Posted by Matt74 View Post
Itís not necessary to license e-bikes, especially when they are already speed regulated.
True... in theory. But, there are homebuilt bikes without regulation, or with mods for more speed and power. I've hit 50+ MPH on descents on my bike... whew, that is flying, but some people are targeting over 50 MPH on their E-bikes.

These unregulated bikes will likely bring more regulation to everyone.

Originally Posted by Matt74 View Post
For example, someone could ride a low powered moped, or e-bike, but a license is required, so they have to ride a bicycle, which is more dangerous, more physically demanding, and has more limited range.) Restricting ownership and rights when it is not necessary has an immense negative impact on these peopleís ability to work, be independent, and live a full life.
Perhaps...

I think my pedal bike range exceeds most E-Bikes. Even some ordinary daily commutes would be difficult without mid-day recharges. Longer commutes/errands would be very difficult for most e-bikes, and very few are actually designed to be conveniently ridden for long distances without any assist.

I have some friends that have expressed interest in cycling. I haven't suggested E-Bikes because frankly, they could use the exercise from pedaling. I suppose it all becomes a bit circular, and they end up not cycling.
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Old 07-10-18, 11:57 PM
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It's not just e-bikes

It's the combination of e-bikes and inexperienced users. E-bikes are very attractive to inexperienced riders since it allows them to ride a bike effectively. But the e-bikes puts them in situations they've never encoutnered before and have no experinece in.

Those of you who can ride fast have probably been riding for many years and have thousands of miles in the saddle. Put some guy whose never ridding on a regular bike before and he could probably ride 15mph for a few miles and would have a hard time climbing. But you could put a near blind person on an e-biike and they could do 20mph for many miles and climb very tall hills. And what goes up must come down.

I'm guessing when someone gets hurt badly things will change.

What happens if you do a bonehead thing (like ride a motorcyle without a license) and get hurt badly. Does your health insurance cover you?

Originally Posted by jon c. View Post
There aren't enough of them around here that anyone has thought about it much.
They are coming. In touristy areas they are everywhere as a lot of retired people travel and the cost of rental is just $30 per day.

Originally Posted by daihard View Post
I'm with you on this. People can (and do) ride fast, dangerously and/or irresponsibly regardless of the type of the bike they're on. I see no need to single out e-bikes.
Right, but those doing it on a regular bike are very experienced (otherwise how did htey learn to ride so fast?)

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Old 07-11-18, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by raria View Post
Right, but those doing it on a regular bike are very experienced (otherwise how did htey learn to ride so fast?)
Just riding fast doesn't take experience. In fact, many experienced riders I know ride fast only where and when it's safe to do so.

There are a lot of people who depend on e-bikes to get around - parents who need to carry their kids around, people with knee issues who otherwise wouldn't be able to ride up the hill, etc. I know those people. They're not safety hazards to others.
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Old 07-11-18, 01:24 AM
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Bikes have to be pedaled. So for those not requiring any pedaling, requiring a registration but not licensing. Also, horsepower (or watts) limitations since speed can vary greatly depending on surrounding conditions and other environmental factors.
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