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E-Bike Legislation in America Shifts to Higher Gear

Laws & Regulations

E-Bike Legislation in America Shifts to Higher Gear
By the end of 2020, three quarters of U.S. is expected to have clear e-bike and eMTB legislation. – Photo People for Bikes

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany – In the U.S. e-bikes are gaining ground as sales up to August this year grew by close to 28 percent in units and 51 percent in value. Despite these good grades volume-wise the U.S. market comes nowhere near what’s happening in Europe. What’s hampering growth is the lack of clear rules and regulations. But that’s changing as more States implement the 3-class legislation on e-bikes, eMTBs and speed pedelecs.

At the earlier this month held Eurobike Show Specialized’s Bob Margevicius, who is also Board member of the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA), presented an update on the U.S. (electric) bike market. Next to presenting the latest market figures, Margevicius also presented an update on where the United States now stand on e-bike regulations.

Uniform regulation

What is an encouraging development within the American e-bike market is that there’s now an uniform regulation being embraced by a growing number of States. In Europe it goes without question that such an uniform regulation is being implemented by all member states. In the U.S. this is different as these regulations are not handled by the country’s government, but on a State level. Meaning that it has to get accepted State-by-State.

3-Class regulation

According to the ‘People for Bikes’ organization which is next to the BPSA also advocating for cycling in the U.S., “2019 started with 11 States using the model three-class e-bike definitions. As of June 19, 22 States now define e-bikes within the three classes, effectively doubling the total in just six months.”

Earlier this month, at Eurobike, Bob Margevicius stated that next year 17 more States in the U.S are targeted to push the 3-Class e-bike legislation through their rule-making process. It would mean that by the end of 2020 39 of the 51 States in the U.S. will have implemented the same legislation on e-bikes. This stands for three quarters of the U.S. that has clear legislation in place.

Trails access by eMTBs

In particular for the electric mountain bike category having regulations implemented is considered to be of vital importance as it defines what’s to happen with their access to trails in National, State, Provincial and other parks. Currently, in States that do not have implemented the e-bike regulations such access is prohibited which puts brakes on eMTB sales. It’s expected that eMTBs will eventually make up about 50 percent of total bicycle sales in the U.S.

US rule-making process

Larry Pizzi, chairman of the BPSA eBike committee, explained in March 2018 at the then held Taipei Cycle Forum, the U.S. e-bike legislation. He said “The rule-making process on e-bikes on State level applies to the terms of use. Product safety is however regulated by the U.S. federal government; under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. These regulations allow for pedal or throttle assisted bikes with a maximum power of 750 Watts and maximum speed of 20 mph under motor power alone. There are no specified speeds when operating under combined human and motor power.”

‘Model Class System’

“From this there’s now a ‘Model Class System’ in place,” continued Pizzi. “It defines and regulates 3 e-bike classes:

Class 1: pedal assist only; maximum assisted speed 20 mph.
Class2: throttle assist only; maximum motor-powered speed 20 mph.
Class 1 and 2 are regulated like bicycles.
Class 3: pedal assist only; maximum assisted speed 28 mph. For this class additional rules apply on use and equipment.”

Larry Pizzi, who was President of Accell Group’s North American (ANA) e-bike business and now is Chief Commercial Officer at Alta Cycling Group, LLC (the company that continues ANA operations), expects that it will take another 2 to 3 years to have e-bike legislation fixed for all 51 US States.

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