Why Cities Should be Embracing E-bikes, not Regulating Them.
Updated: Aug 26, 2020
Electric bikes are here to stay. As more people realize their possibility and embrace them as a viable transportation alternative, the number of E-bike riders will only grow. At the time of this writing, I believe we are only at the tip of the spear of the E-bike and small EV potential. One major roadblock I see is regulation. Currently there is no set rules regarding E-bikes. Travel from one county to another and the rules are completely different. Can I legally use my E-bike if it has the potential to put out 1,500 watts? Do my city officials even know that answer? Currently, 750 watts is considered the limit by the Federal US government as compared to the 250w/350w limit imposed by European/Asian nations. What that means, is that generally if your E-bike motor is rated at 750 watts or less, you "should" be good in most areas of the US.
What we need is for a city to publicly embrace E-bikes and be the first to design/ re-design a city to make riding E-bikes more convenient. Really all it would take is adding a designated lane of traffic to small electric vehicles traveling at speeds between 20-30mph. I know personally I would visit that city and try out their system and gladly add some tourism dollars to their economy.
Regulating E-bikes more is the opposite of the answer. Forcing manufacturers to make E-bikes be low powered, means they are less exciting to ride, let's be real here. Letting them make a fast, fun vehicle should be their goal, much like the Porsche or Ferrari approach building cars. We don't tell Porsche to limit their cars to 150 horsepower because more than that is dangerous! Put the responsibility to handle that power on the end-user. This is the land of the free still isn't it?