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Thread: e-Bikes - Let's talk

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    Quote Originally Posted by bentbike33 View Post
    Unless the statutes are inconsistent with the laws of physics.
    I don't quite understand...

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoWheelsDC View Post
    I don't quite understand...
    Do the statutes treat machines of like weight and power output differently based on fuel source (gas v. electricity)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bentbike33 View Post
    do the statutes treat machines of like weight and power output but different noise and stinkiness differently based on fuel source (gas v. Electricity)?
    ftfy

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    Quote Originally Posted by bentbike33 View Post
    Do the statutes treat machines of like weight and power output differently based on fuel source (gas v. electricity)?
    The statutes make a few distinctions when referencing pedal assisted vehicles:

    1)If it's gas powered, it's a moped (assuming it's fewer than 50cc)
    2)If it has an electric motor greater than 1kw, it's a moped
    3)If it has an electric motor producing fewer than 1000w, it's an "electric power-assisted bicycle" (e-bike)

    So to your question, there is a degree to which the statutes seem to treat these vehicles of like weight and power differently solely based on fuel source, in the sense that no definition of a bicycle allows for gasoline power. Your average weed whacker motor is going to put out pretty close to 1kw, so I think the assumption baked into the law is that any gas-powered motor is close enough to the 1kw threshold, so it's just simpler to move them straight into the moped category. Of course, there are also the issues of smoke and noise that probably factor in to that classification.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoWheelsDC View Post
    Reading between the lines, he seemed to be suggesting that the pro e-bike argument is not valid or at least inconsistent because some drew a seemingly arbitrary distinction between "good" motors (electric) and "bad" motors (gas) on bikes when complaining about the gas-powered bike. But the distinctions between these types of bikes are pretty clearly delineated in the law, so there is no inconsistency.
    And there is good reason for the difference. I've been thinking about this a lot in the context of updating the bike element. Battery powered mobility assist devices -- ebikes, along with hoverboards, e-skateboards, those one-wheeled things, segways, and whatever they think of next -- expand the population that is able and willing to use active transportation to get around. They expand the reach of bus and rail without the need for car parking. Communities should embrace such things. From that list, ebikes and segways need the most storage when not in use, but it's still pretty small.

    Once you add an internal combustion engine, you add noise and exhaust, as well as at least some weight. Moreover, I believe that internal combustion engines are more dangerous in a crash, not least because they could spill gasoline. (Of course, I've carried a can of gas on my bike to help a friend out, so maybe that's not a deciding factor). Thus, I think it's fair to limit these mobility assist devices to those that are battery powered.

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    I think distinguishing between good motors and bad motors is far more tenuous than motor and no motor when it comes to what should be allowed on the trail. I don't see any practical difference between low-power mopeds and e-bikes.

    I'm not sure that either should be forbidden, to be clear. Though we really have pretty scarce multi-use trail resources. Can we just ban the pedestrians? Then I think most of the concerns go away.

    Unrelatedly, do these various VA definitions cited apply to classification of vehicles on roadways or on trail systems? I.e. an e-bike is a motorized vehicle if you actually just take the words literally. So, for example, is NVRPA actually beholden to VA definitions of "motorized vehicles" that apply to licensing and street legality or are they allowed to interpret that literally when they forbid such vehicles on their trails?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hozn View Post

    Unrelatedly, do these various VA definitions cited apply to classification of vehicles on roadways or on trail systems? I.e. an e-bike is a motorized vehicle if you actually just take the words literally. So, for example, is NVRPA actually beholden to VA definitions of "motorized vehicles" that apply to licensing and street legality or are they allowed to interpret that literally when they forbid such vehicles on their trails?
    VA law does allow for local jurisdictions to place additional restrictions on vehicle use, so this is tricky and reading through Arlington's statutes, I can't really tell what the answer is. I assume that since the state has certain definitions of what motor vehicles and e-bikes are, those rule out and a local ordinance would need to be explicit about what vehicles are prohibited and what are not if they restrict further than the state statute...but that's just my guess.

    Arlington's MUP statute, for example, could essentially go either way, depending on what the answer to your question is. It essentially says "only bikes, no other vehicles", but then it defines "vehicle" as "any motorized vehicle." But according to Virginia law, an e-bike is NOT a "motorized vehicle." I think Fairfax County just prohibits "motorized vehicles," so I assume the state definition would be the guideline.
    Last edited by TwoWheelsDC; 09-15-2017 at 12:08 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoWheelsDC View Post
    VA law does allow for local jurisdictions to place additional restrictions on vehicle use, so this is tricky and reading through Arlington's statutes, I can't really tell what the answer is. I assume that since the state has certain definitions of what motor vehicles and e-bikes are, those rule out and a local ordinance would need to be explicit about what vehicles are prohibited and what are not if they restrict further than the state statute...but that's just my guess.

    Arlington's MUP statute, for example, could essentially go either way, depending on what the answer to your question is. It essentially says "only bikes, no other vehicles", but then it defines "vehicle" as "any motorized vehicle." But according to Virginia law, an e-bike is NOT a "motorized vehicle." I think Fairfax County just prohibits "motorized vehicles," so I assume the state definition would be the guideline.
    Okay, looking at it closer, it seems the Arlington language actually is actually somewhat more clear about this, in favor of allowing e-bikes on trails. According to Arlington Code 14.2-1.1. Definitions:

    A. The words and terms defined in 46.2-100, Code of Virginia, shall, when used in this chapter, have the meanings respectively ascribed to them in such section, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.
    To me, this means that when Arlington says "motorized vehicle", it's using Virginia's definition, which excludes e-bikes. In addition, Virginia code only considers bikes and e-bikes "vehicles" when operated on the highway. When VA 46.2-100 refers to bikes and e-bikes, it calls them "devices," but mopeds are called "vehicles." Thus, an e-bike is not a "vehicle" for the purposes of the Arlington MUP statute and probably not for any other local ordinance unless it is very explicit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hozn View Post
    Can we just ban the pedestrians? Then I think most of the concerns go away.
    Finally *I* could tell someone to "GET ON THE SIDEWALK!!!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by hozn View Post
    I think distinguishing between good motors and bad motors is far more tenuous than motor and no motor when it comes to what should be allowed on the trail. I don't see any practical difference between low-power mopeds and e-bikes.
    One of the reasons I prefer riding on trails, over riding on streets, is to avoid exposure to tailpipe emissions. I think that is also a reason runners and walkers like them (and yes, I know the GWMP is not far from the MVT, for example, but IIUC research has shown even a few feet of extra distance helps significantly). I imagine low power mopeds have modest emissions, but e-bikes have none?

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