Please post comments here regarding the Riding in November article. Thanks.
Riding in November
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- Last Post 30 October 2016
I see that someone, maybe you Dave, has a trike with a Bionx D-500 motor on the back wheel. (I have two trikes with the older 350 watt motors on them.)
We spend our winters down south these days. Before retiring in 2000 I was a year-around bike commuter from Brown Deer to UW-Milwaukee for 25 years. I rode in some mighty cold weather, can't imagine doing it today.
Last January I was riding my Bionx equipped trike on the Withlacoochee State Trail near Floral City, Florida when I was stopped by a State Park Ranger and she told me that I couldn't ride a motorized vehicle on a state trail. So I did what we do in these internet days, I let Google search for me. I found that Florida defines e-bikes/trikes as being bicycles, with some restrictions. These are the bike must be pedal assist, maximum speed of 20 mph and maximum power of 750 watts, about one horsepower. I went public with this info on various Facebook pages and a few weeks later a Florida State Ranger publically stated that e-bikes are legal on the state trails because by state law, they are bicycles.
There are many different variations of laws concerning e-bikes in different states and cities. Maybe the laws have changed recently but e-bikes are illegal in New York City. In Wisconsin e-bikes are defined to be motorized bicycles. It would be much better if we and the bicyce industry could get the "motorized" word removed from the Wisconsin laws. Better yet, standardize the laws across the US. Yes, I know, states rights and all, but we have standarized auto related laws in the US.
What about Wisconsin? A few years ago we worked as campground hosts at Harrington Beach Sate Park and I rode my bike all around the area. I asked the head ranger about e-bikes, legal, or not? At the time he was a member of the Ozaukee Interurban Trail advisory committee. He said they are legal on state trails. I have never been stopped for using my e-trike in Wisconsin.
Yes, I have the D-500 and I love it! Although I only use the lowest level when riding alone, at the second level it allows me to keep up with younger and stronger riders. At 77, there is no point in kidding myself that I can ride at the same pace as folks who are 20 or 30 years younger. And, it detracts from the riding experience of these younger folks if they would have to wait for me at the top of every hill.
I really appreciate your comments about E-Bikes and the laws regulating them. And, congratulations for your activism in Florida! Yes, we need to get the law changed in WI and the Florida specs sound very reasonable - my D-500 would fully comply with those specs. As it stands now, the legal opinion regarding the Interurban Trail is that no form of motorization is legal, however there is currently no active enforcement regarding an E-Bike of the type described by the Florida spec. Motorcycles are clearly prohibited and the law is actively enforced. It's my feeling that an E-Bike with the assist turned off is still in full compliance with the current Interurban trail legal opinion.
At this time, I suspect few people really understand the difference between a motor bike (of any kind) and an Electric Assist Bicycle that only operates if a person is pedaling and exerting a threshold amount of effort. The "assist" is just that - an assistance to a person who is otherwise providing power to propel the bicycle. The advantage is that a person with this feature can maintain a better average speed and cover more distance. E-Bikes allow many people, who otherwise have limitations, to experience all the health and enjoyment benefits of cycling. My personal opinion is that millions of US citizens could benefit from E-bikes for both utility purposes and recreation - with considerable health and environmental benefits. It would seem sensible that government regulations should be designed to encourage the use of Electric Assist Bicycles.
It's my understanding that this type of E-Bike is much better understood and accepted in Europe.