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Breakthrough for E-Bike Legislation (and Use) in America

Laws & Regulations 5297

NEW YORK, USA – Last Tuesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that pedal-assisted e-bikes will soon become legal to operate in New York City. As this decision comes after four years of striving to get legislation in place in New York, it’s regarded as a breakthrough for e-bikes in America.

Breakthrough for E-Bike Legislation (and Use) in America
New York City’s goal is to double number of active cyclists by 2020. – Photo

The lack of clear rules and regulations are currently hampering sales of electric bicycles in the United States. In particular as such legislation on e-bikes and eMTB’s are currently in place at only 8 American States while pending in 3 more. It means that in the other 39 States the rule-making process still has to take place. But representatives from People for Bikes and the eBike committee of Bicycle Products Suppliers Association (BPSA) can now add a victory to their list of achievements now that New York City finally says that it is going to arrange legislation quickly.

State level legislation

At last month Taipei Cycle Forum keynote speaker Larry Pizzi, President of Accell Group’s North American e-bike business and chairman of the BPSA eBike committee, made clear how the rule-making process on e-bikes is taking place in America. It’s not handled by the country’s government, but on a State level. Meaning that it has to get accepted State-by-State. At the Taipei Cycle Forum he said “To move it through the legislation process takes for New York, where e-bikes are still considered illegal now, already 4 years. For California it took one session only. In essence, clarity on legislation bring sales. My expectation is that it will take 3 to 4 years to have that legislation fixed for all US States.”

Not for throttle operated e-bikes

That 3 to 4 years term could well be shortened thanks to the breakthrough on e-bike rules in New York City. What Mayor de Blasio announced last Tuesday is that “The new e-bike rule will recognize that pedal-assist bicycles are permissible, whereas throttle operated e-bikes, capable of travel at speeds over 20 mph (32km/h), cannot be legally operated on New York City streets under State law.”

Mayor de Blasio also said “As cycling continues to grow in popularity for commuting, deliveries and tourism, we are seeing the demand for pedal-assist bicycles that can help cyclists travel longer distances and more easily climb steep hills. With new and clear guidelines, cyclists, delivery workers and businesses alike will now understand exactly what devices are allowed.”

Getting more New Yorkers on two wheels

New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg furthered with “By creating the framework for pedal-assist bicycles, our goal is to join other world cities that are opening the door for delivery workers, older or less able-bodied cyclists, and other casual aspiring cyclists to experience a safe and low-emission mode of travel. Cycling, including on pedal-assist bikes, is not only fun, it’s a fast, affordable, healthy and sustainable way of getting around. With challenges for public transportation in New York City, like with a train tunnel closure on the horizon, our aim is to balance moving even more New Yorkers on two wheels with the need to manage that growth safely.”

Doubling number of active cyclists

It’s further said that the new e-bike rule will also help meet New York City’s goals of doubling the number of active cyclists by 2020 as “Pedal-assist bicycles contain a rechargeable battery that can be used to travel longer distances or boost power going up hills — and are among the fastest-growing and most environmentally sound modes of urban travel, both around the US and around the world. One European study has shown substantial health and environmental benefits, including that pedal-assist bicycles increase cycling, especially among older users. Research has also shown that pedal-assist bicycle trips most often replace car trips; with the ability to avoid car traffic and parking costs, trips on pedal-assist bicycles are usually both faster and cheaper.”

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