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Thread: NOVA Parks Hearing in e-bikes

  1. #21
    dasgeh's Avatar
    dasgeh is offline Queen of Family Biking & All Things Kidical
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    Quote Originally Posted by huskerdont View Post
    the increased dangers from them on trails not designed for them are being willfully and selfishly discounted or ignored
    I disagree that the trails are not designed for ebikes, or at least beyond the fact that trails aren't designed for bikes, really, or designed for the volume they often see (and are likely to see as ebikes increase in popularity).

    The ebikes I've ridden have all functioned just like the corresponding analog bikes would ride if ridden by a much stronger person. CaBi+'es have the same turning radii, the same wheel base, and the same other attributes that would affect the design of trails meant for them. Yes, pluses can go faster, and noticeably so on the uphills, but a super strong rider on a normal CaBi (CaBi-?) can out ride a plus.

    Strong riders can get road bikes going much faster than the legal top speed of any e-assist. In other words, trails should be designed for speeds higher than the e-assist limit (they probably aren't but that's as more of an issue for the roadies cruising at 25mph than the ebikes maxing out at 20mph).

    Trails aren't designed for long wheel base bikes, or bikes towing trailers, but that's an issue whether the bike has e-assist or not.

    There is a valid point to be made that ebikes are likely to bring much more volume to trails than trails are currently designed for. But that's a feature, not a bug, because it means much fewer car trips. And it also translates to more advocates for more bike infrastructure. I would love to see a day when there are so many people biking (with and without assist), that we transfer serious amounts of roadway from cars to bikes. Then we can talk about banning ebikes from trails (or those with a parallel safe route).

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    Quote Originally Posted by buschwacker View Post
    I am one of those of who you speak, commuting on an e-bike primarily using the region's trails as a fit young person. I'm curious whether you think that e-bikes should be allowed on trails and whether that opinion has anything to do with the e-bike user's motivation for using the trail. Perhaps I've got the wrong idea from your post, but it seems wrong-headed and judgmental to distinguish between "legitimate" and "illegitimate" use of an e-bike on a trail, with the elderly and kid-hauling on one side and young and healthy on the other.

    I'm asking because as a regular e-bike rider that uses MUPs daily as part of my commute, I acknowledge that e-bikes are sometimes misused on bike trails whether from traveling too fast for conditions or lack of etiquette, or both. I've seen it happen, but surely there's a sensible way for e-bikes to co-exist with other users. Already, MUPs are shared by many users whose motivations are already at odds, case in point hardcore time trailers versus parents-with-strollers (or really, everyone else on the trail). What's the difference with e-bikes?
    I would be ok with class 1 e-bikes on trails if they were limited to 15mph for pedal assist. I think 20mph is a little high safety wise - for reference in the Netherlands I believe e-bikes are limited to 30kph (18mph) on bikeways.

    Class 2 and 3 e-bikes should be illegal on all trails and class 3 illegal on all 2-way cycletracks and PBLs.

    For comparison, I think DC's scooter speed restriction of 10mph is too restrictive, and based on most the scooter riders I see on the trails, the 15-18mph top speed range is generally a safe operating speed.

    My main concern is riders going 20mph+ on trails, including regular bikes, but class 2 and 3 e-bikes makes that speed way too easy for the average person to attain. At least with a regular bike, you have to be really fit to average high speeds which narrows the population of high risk/high speed riders.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zsionakides View Post
    I've seen plenty of e-bikes on the trails around and it's rare that they are going slower than regular bikes.
    That's an experience quite opposite to mine. I ride an ebike, on office commutes (4 Mile Run+WOD+Potomac Yard, when not raining heavily, or below 20 degrees), and for longer leisure weekend rides. Mine's got some power, but within the defined limit. It has no throttle option however; if I don't pedal, I don't move. My trips overall tend to average out at 12-15mph. I rarely exceed ~20-22mph in any sustained run, unless on a downhill grade with sufficient gravity assist, or, when I must bike in/with traffic. (I aim to avoid traffic riding whenever possible.) Also, I don't want the battery drain that comes with trying to maintain higher speeds... I am not aero-tucking, since speed and lowering resistance aren't objectives. Though I once hit 31mph on the biggish downhill, Custis Trail eastbound just before N Quincy alongside 66... it was completely nerve-wracking to me, and I ride my brakes to prevent blowing past low 20s downhill, as a result.

    And all that said, after a year of riding this ebike, 90+% of all cyclists who pass me are riding analog bikes (and they more often than not are flying past me) and I get passed noticeably more often (maybe 60/40 split?) than I pass other cyclists, on the whole.

    25 years since I last biked, my ebike purchase at age 49 was never about gaining speed... (of course I'm not representative of all ebike riders, just as, hopefully, the arrogant racer using MVT for personal speed records, passing pedestrians with no call out and scant inches of clearance at 25 mph, isn't representative of all analog riders.) For me it was about extending range, enhancing my enjoyment of riding a bike, getting in better shape (I started riding last March, 60 pounds heavier than today---not sure which of the fit/unfit categories I'd be in now... nowhere near as fit as the "serious racer/training crowd" out on the trails today), and also to replace some car commutes in a way that didn't require showers at work as a sweat-drenched mess.

    Sorry for the ramble... I suppose the long and short of it is that there are jackasses to be found on both kinds of bikes on the trails (not to mention the fully motorized scooters, mono-wheels and skateboards) operating their rides well outside the current trail rules, etiquette and common sense, every single day. The ebike doesn't hold a special monopoly on enabling that behavior.

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    Ever since I cobbled together a homebrew/kit e-bike last year, I've re-entered the bike commuting fray (just once a week). All other days I ride a motorcycle on the highway, as I have for 30 years of commuting bliss. I rarely drive a car anymore. The little Schwinn is capable of running at 28 MPH for five miles on straights with no assist, so it would probably be outlawed on trails, even with new definitions in place.... but I pass bicyclists on hills only, otherwise I drop back and keep pace. I actually go slower down hills than I used on a standard bike- I needed momentum to take the next hill. I pedal assist just about everywhere, generally don't use any assist on the straights, but on the Mount Vernon Trail it's so bumpy that I sometimes stand with bent knees and ride the whole stretch with assist only. I slow way down when passing any pedestrian; even slower than I would if I was riding a regular bike. Since I can whack the throttle afterward and get back up to speed with no effort, I have no skin in the game in regards to scrubbing off hard-earned momentum. My riding style is way different, but may be even safer than before. But the commute time is shorter because I'm going "on the straights" speeds up hills, even steep ones. That's where the difference lies, not in top speed or a higher cruising speed.
    My feeling is as long as the conveyance isn't taking up an entire lane or emitting obnoxious sounds or noxious fumes, the restrictions should simply be a speed limit for any given trail, or section of trail, that is posted.
    Last edited by phog; 02-08-2019 at 10:00 PM.

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    Name:  Graph.jpg
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    This graph show typical ebike performance. To maximize trip length the bike is configured to run the motor at peak efficiency at a speed of 20mph on the flats. As you can see from the green line that efficiency goes to zero at higher speeds. For an e-bike to go faster than 23mph the human has to put in all the power (almost impossible without gravity assist since 500 watts is required). Note the red power line. As the bike slows (i.e. going uphill) the power produced by the motor rises to keep up with the load. This is the technical reason why e-bikes are not faster than analog bikes but can produce better average speeds because of the ability to go up hills and into headwinds without slowing down much.

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    I should add that to get to 25 mph on the flats requires a lot more power--almost twice that at 20mph. One can reduce the load by reducing wind resistance via tucking, drafting and reducing rolling resistance with faster tires. That load curve climbs steeply after 15mph which is why most analog biker have sub-15 average speeds.
    Last edited by SolarBikeCar; 02-09-2019 at 03:54 PM.

  11. #27
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    Nova Parks posted the presentation slides delivered at the Feb 7 hearing. The comment period is open to March 11 and a decision is set to be made by the Board sometime Spring 2019.

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  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    I
    The ebikes I've ridden have all functioned just like the corresponding analog bikes would ride if ridden by a much stronger person. CaBi+'es have the same turning radii, the same wheel base, and the same other attributes that would affect the design of trails meant for them. Yes, pluses can go faster, and noticeably so on the uphills, but a super strong rider on a normal CaBi (CaBi-?) can out ride a plus.

    Strong riders can get road bikes going much faster than the legal top speed of any e-assist. In other words, trails should be designed for speeds higher than the e-assist limit (they probably aren't but that's as more of an issue for the roadies cruising at 25mph than the ebikes maxing out at 20mph).
    After considering the many times this argument has been made on the other thread pretending that e-bikes aren't going to be ridden any faster than regular bikes (completely contrary to my and some other users' experience), I changed my mind and wrote in opposition to all e-bikes on area MUPs.

    Unfortunately, the argument for restricting only some classes of e-bikes is, I feel, impractical, but perhaps that will be where we'll end up.

    And yes, I know they'll be out there anyway, legal or no.

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    Quote Originally Posted by huskerdont View Post
    ...I changed my mind and wrote in opposition to all e-bikes on area MUPs.
    I can't quite wrap my head around that... being fine leaving in place the racer/roadies cruising consistently in mid-to-high 20's, as if they're a special, protected and acceptable class of danger to other trail users simply and only because their bikes are 'analog'... So they get inherent rights to go faster than the vast majority of users around them, but that danger is somehow acceptable and needs no addressing.

    Leaving the Duck Ride yesterday, one such cyclist flew past me. I decided, "I've got all this e-assist power and a nearly-full battery, lemme see what is involved in keeping pace." I stepped up to a level of assist that I never use in regular riding. I still had to work the pedals harder than I would have if I were on my "normal biking home" in order to keep him from gradually, but consistently, extending his lead. I was moving at 24-27mph during that whole time. My heartrate monitor showed I achieved the highest heart rates of my entire trip, just while chasing this guy, WITH my jacked-up assist helping me never quite catch up to him.

    He was super fit and clearly a seasoned cyclist; he demonstrated that he could easily maintain that pace. (Not only that, he could even maintain it with his hands engaged with his phone for some stretches.)
    I started this ad-hoc pacing exercise where Custis meets WOD, and I never actually got "right up behind" him until we both stopped at Columbia Pike. I had a higher level of higher assist I could've tapped into for the experiment -- that probably would have let me match him or even catch up to himwith less pedaling effort on my part; but since he was above the max speed at which I'm comfortable with sustained flats-biking, I didn't bother trying that.

    How then, do I and my ebike need to be banned from all mixed use trails, but he does not, and he never will be?
    The operator of a bike, pedal-assist or otherwise, creates the dangers to trail users by the way they choose to operate their own equipment. He and I had equal opportunity to produce a would-be collision at speeds well above the trail limits.
    He could have chosen to obey the trail limits (which I had done during the ride beforehand); but he has the conditioning, stamina and fitness and desire to break them at will--and he did exactly that, for as long as he liked.

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  17. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christob50 View Post
    How then, do I and my ebike need to be banned from all mixed use trails, but he does not, and he never will be?
    The operator of a bike, pedal-assist or otherwise, creates the dangers to trail users by the way they choose to operate their own equipment. He and I had equal opportunity to produce a would-be collision at speeds well above the trail limits.
    He could have chosen to obey the trail limits (which I had done during the ride beforehand); but he has the conditioning, stamina and fitness and desire to break them at will--and he did exactly that, for as long as he liked.
    He has your response though?

    Quote Originally Posted by huskerdont View Post
    And yes, I know they'll be out there anyway, legal or no.
    You outline a type of dangerous riding. You then show that you too now have the option to recreate that dangerous riding. Thus, more people will now have the ability to ride dangerously. No one outlines a way in which either the analog or electric dangerous rider can be enforced away. I'm unaware of the ability to ban people from trails? and you are not being banned, a particular thing you own may possibly be.

    So that kind of sums it up right? I've no dog in this fight and am pro the e-bikes but I agree with the statement "E-bikes on trails will lead to more dangerous riding" and also "E-bikes on trails could lead to a higher rate of dangerous riding".

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