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Thread: e-Bikes - Let's talk

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    Quote Originally Posted by vern View Post
    If I go 55 on the beltway (posted speed limit) I get blow away by virtually every other driver. So why do you think that mentality wouldn't carryover to a speed limit on the trails? Public safety reasons? In a better world, maybe, but this ain't it. I think the only thing that would keep most from surpassing a posted speed limit on the trails is the limits imposed by their own quads.
    Quads and brains. As a "non-roadie" but numbers nerd - especially for my morning commute to school (where pacing myself for a longer ride isn't an issue and we're often cutting it close on time), I go as fast as I reasonably can given the conditions and congestion. Most of my morning commute is on the MBT. When there aren't a lot of people out (as happened to be this morning) and things are clear and dry, even with my heavy bike and my daughter on the trailercycle, I can get through the MBT Sector 1 (between Franklin and the zigzag at R) averaging 19-20mph thanks to it being downhill. Even my median effort in 400 attempts is an average of around 17mph; my average speed for that sector is below 15mph (the nominal speed limit) only 10% of the time and were almost all when (1) I was on a CaBi or (2) my wife was on a CaBi and was with us.

    On the flip side - the "MBT: Lane Switchin With The Sweat Drippin" segment that is going up the hill - I've cracked an average of 15mph once in 360 tries and that was the last time I went solo with the goal of going as fast as I could for those few minutes. I consider it a success (especially with daughter in tow) when I break 10mph on that segment heading home, so the speed limit wouldn't impact me at all.

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    Some have asked why would you would want an ebike that can assist higher than 15mph on trails (let's call that the speed cap). The answer is that an ebike, and it's speed cap, don't only travel on trails. On streets, it is very helpful to have the assist up to 20mph and even higher. Most streets have a 25 mph speed limit, so if a bike can go that fast they can (generally) keep up with traffic.

    In fact, having a lower speed cap for trail-legal ebikes could make trails more crowded. For example, in Rosslyn/Courthouse, the Custis Trail parallels Lee Hwy. Westbound, Lee has 3 lanes, and never much traffic, but a speed limit of 35/40mph. It has a bike lane starting at the top of the hill. Taking the right lane up hill at 10-25mph is not all that unpleasant. Right now, plenty of riders on non-ebikes who can manage 20mph up that hill take the trail (at reasonable speeds) then take Lee instead of the trail when the trail is crowded. At 15mph it would not be fun. To get to/from the Custis/Lee from the DC, one must ride on a trail. So if you were to restrict trail access to ebikes that are capped at 15mph, those ebikes allowed to go to DC would not be comfortable taking Lee - i.e. you'd be guaranteeing they stay on the trail. If you allow the higher speed cap on the trail, more people would ride bikes generally (good thing) but then choose Lee when the trail is crowded (also good thing).

    Also, there's a confusing discussion on these last 2 pages about a speed limit on trails -- I fully support having reasonable speed limits on trails for all users (ideally context dependent). But it seems people are talking about the cap on the assist for the ebike, which isn't called a "speed limit" because "speed limits" are clearly understood to be something else. I've seen them called a speed cap or the setting of the speed limiter, but that's confusing.

    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    Right now, as far as I can tell, the very wide semi consensus among bike advocates I know in Va is that before we do anything, we need the General Assembly to establish a classification like that in California, possibly even copying the Ca legislative language, which would enable localities to allow class 1 and 2 ebikes on trails, while banning class 3 ebikes.

    Is anyone here advocating for allowing class 3 ebikes on trails?
    I would allow them. I would regulate the behavior (i.e. put on clear speed limits), and allow any battery-powered mobility assist device on the trails, at least for now.

    I still haven't heard a reasonable argument why you would want to ban an ebike that is able to go 25mph on the flat but not a strong rider who can go 25mph on the flat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    I still haven't heard a reasonable argument why you would want to ban an ebike that is able to go 25mph on the flat but not a strong rider who can go 25mph on the flat.
    Perhaps because we may soon have many, many more e-bikes than strong riders on the trails. 25mph speeds are now the exception but may soon be fairly normal. It's not clear that we want that.

    Your points about higher speeds being useful in traffic are well-taken.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post

    I still haven't heard a reasonable argument why you would want to ban an ebike that is able to go 25mph on the flat but not a strong rider who can go 25mph on the flat.
    Reasonable argument: hozn and I ride the same frame size and Id like to continue buying a used bike from him once a year or so.

    So, we cant ban hozn from the trails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    I still haven't heard a reasonable argument why you would want to ban an ebike that is able to go 25mph on the flat but not a strong rider who can go 25mph on the flat.

    2 reasons.

    1. Under the California legislation Class 3 tops out at 28MPH, not 25MPH. So unless you want to allow 28MPH ebikes, we would need to establish a different classification in Virginia. Since one goal of such legislation is to get manufacturers to agree to make the bikes easily visibly distinguishable, I would think that adds to the usual reasons for consistency among state laws

    2. I am not sure how you determine who is a rider capable of going 25, or for that matter, 28MPH. Its not practical. Whereas its easier for a bike. That is without going into the question of how many riders can do those speeds.

    I will note no one in the discussion I was party to wanted class 3 ebikes on the trails. We are divided into a majority who like the california law, and a minority who are skeptical of allowing ebikes on the trails at all. Note well, ALL the skeptics are primarily pedestrians - that is where the resistance is coming from, not from fast riders/MAMILs defending their primacy on the trails.
    Last edited by lordofthemark; 11-01-2017 at 02:07 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    Reasonable argument: hozn and I ride the same frame size and Id like to continue buying a used bike from him once a year or so.

    So, we cant ban hozn from the trails.
    Hey, I've got another one for you ...

    But I really don't ride that fast. I certainly could never maintain 22.5mph average on my commute.

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    For example, in Rosslyn/Courthouse, the Custis Trail parallels Lee Hwy. Westbound, Lee has 3 lanes, and never much traffic, but a speed limit of 35/40mph.

    Well. In the City of Alexandria, we have, I think, no roads with speed limits above 35. We have reduced speed limits on three higher speed arterials (parts of Seminary, Quaker, and King) within the last two years. The city is moving forward with a vision zero plan (contents to be released shortly). Voices are calling for further reductions in speed limits, and some members of council seem amenable. I think that is where we, as a City, need to focus to make in road biking more comfortable and safe - and ALSO to make our streets safer for pedestrians and drivers. I would suggest if Arlington were to do that, riders of 20MPH ebikes might be less likely to choose trails in Arlington.

    Now I know Virginia can't legislate with only the City of Alexandria in mind (well other than when it comes to punishing jurisdictions with combined sewer outflows), but I can't see us pushing for something different than the Calif legislation based on relative speeds between trails and parallel arterials in Arlington.

    And of course I realize the difference between a trail speed limit and an ebike speed cap. I thought people calling for a 15MPH speed cap on ebikes did so because they also wanted all bikes to face a 15MPH limit on trails (at least at busy hours). OTOH I think some who the California legislation would be more amenable to a 20 MPH ebike cap, if they thought a 15MPH speed limit were actually being enforced.
    Last edited by lordofthemark; 11-01-2017 at 02:10 PM. Reason: Because FU, General Assembly Republican CSO hypocrites

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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    [I]And of course I realize the difference between a trail speed limit and an ebike speed cap. I thought people calling for a 15MPH speed cap on ebikes did so because they also wanted all bikes to face a 15MPH limit on trails (at least at busy hours). OTOH I think some who the California legislation would be more amenable to a 20 MPH ebike cap, if they thought a 15MPH speed limit were actually being enforced.
    I think the idea behind a 15mph power cap is to allow e-bikes to use infrastructure that was designed for purely human powered transport without too many conflicts. Not necessarily as a hard limit (since even a capped e-bike could be pedaled faster than that), just as a way to prevent powered vehicles from attaining too much speed on infrastructure that wasn't designed for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    In fact, having a lower speed cap for trail-legal ebikes could make trails more crowded. For example, in Rosslyn/Courthouse, the Custis Trail parallels Lee Hwy. Westbound, Lee has 3 lanes, and never much traffic, but a speed limit of 35/40mph. It has a bike lane starting at the top of the hill. Taking the right lane up hill at 10-25mph is not all that unpleasant. Right now, plenty of riders on non-ebikes who can manage 20mph up that hill take the trail (at reasonable speeds) then take Lee instead of the trail when the trail is crowded. At 15mph it would not be fun. To get to/from the Custis/Lee from the DC, one must ride on a trail. So if you were to restrict trail access to ebikes that are capped at 15mph, those ebikes allowed to go to DC would not be comfortable taking Lee - i.e. you'd be guaranteeing they stay on the trail. If you allow the higher speed cap on the trail, more people would ride bikes generally (good thing) but then choose Lee when the trail is crowded (also good thing).
    After reading it a few times, I'm not sure I fully understand this paragraph; however, I don't think this is the best example. There are not plenty of riders that can average 20mph up that hill currently: there are apparently 17 riders of ~10,000 (i.e. 0.1% of riders) that were able to do it at those speeds once or twice. I've ridden it plenty of times at something closer to 15mph (and apparently once above 20mph). It is just as unpleasant to take the lane on Lee at 15mph as it is to take the lane at 20mph. Traffic will still fly by you going 45mph. And you're next to a sound wall with little shoulder. Comfort here is just comfort riding on the road; the most comfortable I have been taking a lane on Lee was actually when riding with 3 other people chatting slowly up the hill.

    So I guess the premise here that if you put a cap on trail-legal e-assist motors that these people won't use their bikes on streets seems to be approaching this from the wrong angle. I want streets that are safe for people -- e.g. my kids -- to ride at 12mph. I don't want bicycle traffic to speed up so that it can compete with cars on 50mph roads. That just seems completely backwards. I guess it feels a bit like my overall problem with the e-bike marketing about "needing faster bikes for faster lives". Speeding up cycling traffic makes it more dangerous, which sounds like it would ultimately do little to improve the lot of cyclists. It sounds like the Amsterdams or Copenhagens show us that e-bikes don't need to be about getting somewhere faster, so I personally am all for embracing class-1 and class-2 e-bikes on trails and all for banning class-3 ebikes from the MUPs as other states have done.
    Last edited by hozn; 11-01-2017 at 04:14 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    For example, in Rosslyn/Courthouse, the Custis Trail parallels Lee Hwy. Westbound, Lee has 3 lanes, and never much traffic, but a speed limit of 35/40mph.
    When was the last time you actually drove this at rush hour? Lee is absolutely PACKED from Military/Glebe-ish to 495 which is about where I bail for home. The speed limit is 30 until you're past Falls Church and around the Pancake House (Graham) where it ups to 40. I drive this section many, many times a week.
    Last edited by Tania; 11-01-2017 at 02:40 PM.

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