Saturday, February 25, 2017

Electric bikes = bikes?

There's an interesting column at the Idaho Statesman website: "Should some electric bikes be treated as bicycles? Legislator says yes; Boise says no"

It refers to the legal sense.  Should electric-powered, or electric-assist bicycles, be treated the same in the eyes of the law as bicycles?  A legislator has introduced a proposal to do just that.  The bill is supported by electric bicycle retailers, and similar legislation is in effect in several other states.  It specifies that electric bicycles that go less than 20mph and have 750 watts or less can go wherever bicycles go.

The bill is primarily opposed by the Boise Parks and Recreation people, who don't want electric bicycles on the Greenbelt, except when in use by people with disabilities.

I posted some comments, using my real-life name (Steve Hulme).  I would not oppose a "pilot program," as has just been started in Steamboat, Colorado.  However... all parties, particularly the people who administer the Greenbelt, need to realize that laws are meaningless without enforcement of violations.  As I said in my comment, it's not too unusual to see some above-the-law yahoo riding a gas-powered bicycle from time to time!  (Also, unless I'm WAY mistaken, the City could still prohibit motorized bicycles on the Greenbelt if they choose to, just as they prohibit muscle-powered bicycles along certain portions.  So I don't see a conflict between a new state code clarification and the City's desires.)

From the article: He [Terry Sherry, who sells electric bicycles] has heard all the arguments, including the one about how riding an electric bike takes the exercise out of cycling. He points out that most kids don’t ride for exercise and even hard-core cyclists pursue the sport because it’s fun. “You’re not selling cycling as a sport,” Sherry said. “It’s recreational fun.”

True!  Most kids don't ride for exercise - they ride because it's fun!  However... a side-benefit of riding a pedaled-power bicycle for fun is, it provides some exercise!  That cannot be said of a bicycle that you hop on and push a button, and it goes by itself.