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Thread: Electric bikes

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    Default Electric bikes

    Excuse me if this has already been debated to death -- I'm new here.

    I've been commuting from Vienna to DC for over 20 years. Lately, I've been seeing a lot of electric bikes on the trail. Is this legal? Seems like they qualify as a motorized vehicle to me. Over the years I've seen one or two a week, but lately, they're everywhere. The big problem I have are the people riding these things -- they're lousy bike riders -- and they're able to go 20+ mph on these bikes. It's a safety hazard. Kind of like giving a 16 year old kid a race car. There are times when I yell at them "Get a real bike". This seems to strike a cord in some of them -- so I must not be the only cyclist who does this. One guy slowed down and told me that he was trying to get in shape to ride to work. He was at least 10 years younger and 20 lbs lighter than I am. I asked him how buying a motorized bike is going to accomplish that. He told me to F-off and buzzed away. I was at Spokes recently and there was a guy with an electric bike. I asked him how he liked it. He said it is just great. I can get to work from Vienna to DC in 45 minutes (takes me an hour) and I "get my exercise". I damn near asked him if he had a motorized elliptical machine at home to use when it snows. Or maybe watching golf on TV would suffice. I asked a guy in DC while waiting at a light about the range he gets. He said 25 miles, but since his commute was 12 miles each way, he charges it at the office in the daytime just to make sure it's fully charged for the ride home. "You really don't want to have to pedal this thing"

    If it keeps going at the pace it's been going, half the bikes on the path are going to be electric bikes in the next 5-10 years. How can people be so lazy?

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    Earlier this summer I rode behind a woman on an e-bike from East Falls Church into DC and when we stopped at the IOD I complimented her on how polite she was as far as passing and signaling. It was refreshing to see and fun for me to try and keep up with her.

    Fast-forward to now and she NEVER calls her passes, she weaves in and out of people at a too-high speed, she shoals, runs red lights and doesn't bother to signal. I'm tempted to ask her what the heck happened. Oh wait. She's just mimicking everyone else.

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    I have absolutely no problem with e-assist bikes. Hell, I'll probably end up needing one someday if I want to continue bike commuting into my twilight years. I don't care for the bikes that allow the rider to just let the battery take over.

    Either way, I haven't seen e-bike riders behave any better or worse than anyone else when it comes to etiquette and safety. And I certainly don't carry a portable soapbox around with me to climb on whenever I see one. Ahem.

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    I have no problem with the e-bike riders that observe good trail etiquette. Indeed, it can be a good challenge to keep up with or even pass them. What gets me is when they make super-human passes (at like 20 mph up the Custis Courthouse Climb or the Two Sisters, well beyond the capabilities of the greatest pathletes of our generation) without warning and/or in tight traffic situations. Again, it is an etiquette issue, but also a demonstration of the principle that with greater power comes greater responsibility.

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    I don't antagonize these riders, but I generally agree: the paths around here are not suited to them, they are motorized vehicles, it is a safety issue, and it will be a growing problem in the years to come.

    I can understand electric hill-assist for slow moving cargo bikes ferrying groceries or children, and it's a no brainer for me that those with mobility issues should be allowed to use motorized scooters to enjoy safe and often scenic trails. The gray area for me starts with the skateboard and segway like devices. I'm not sure about those yet. But I'm certain that no allowances need to be made for able-bodied people to take a 40lb+ electric moped to work at 20mph down a narrow twisting ribbon of trail, possibly in the dark, simply because they'd rather not deal with road congestion.

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    There are times when I yell at them "Get a real bike".
    I damn near asked him if he had a motorized elliptical machine at home to use when it snows.
    How can people be so lazy?
    Maybe OP should mind his own damn business and stop being so concerned over the decisions made by other people. Moreoever, what gives you the right to make judgements over people's riding styles?

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    Because it's a slow Friday, I'll respond...mainly because something got me thinking about this just the other day. That incident was one where an e-bike rider was going like 15mph up a hill where other riders were doing like 6-7mph, and the rider was weaving in and out quickly to pass the riders trudging up the hill. For me, this illustrated the potential danger posed by e-bikes. I think that on regular paths the speed differences aren't likely to be dramatic, so I usually don't even pay attention. But on hills (on the trails, in particular) where the speed difference can get dangerous, particularly when combined with a rider who doesn't want to wait for the unassisted slow-pokes, they can be a bit of a hazard. Banning e-bikes isn't a solution in my mind, so I think just dealing with it is the best solution for now. I think costs will keep them fairly niche, so it's not like there are roving bands of e-bikes speeding up hills and terrorizing unassisted riders.

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    Several weeks ago, probably well over a month since time has been flying, I was heading eastward on the W&OD very slowly up the Buckthorn hill. I suddenly was passed by something that looked like a soapbox derby entry. I decided that it must be powered. After the downhill, I passed by another cyclist who asked me if I had seen it, and he also said that it must have been powered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ursus View Post
    Several weeks ago, probably well over a month since time has been flying, I was heading eastward on the W&OD very slowly up the Buckthorn hill. I suddenly was passed by something that looked like a soapbox derby entry. I decided that it must be powered. After the downhill, I passed by another cyclist who asked me if I had seen it, and he also said that it must have been powered.
    Sounds like you were ELFed.

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