When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?

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reikiman
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When it's a scooter-bike?

No coasting on bicycle defense
A judge finds against an unlicensed man on a two-wheeled vehicle
http://www.registerguard.com/web/updates/26435370-55/mcclain-bicycle-electric-springfield-license.html.csp

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Municipal Judge James Strickland doesn’t know exactly what to call the two-wheeled vehicle that Paul McClain has been riding around town lately.

But he ruled Wednesday that it’s not an electric bicycle...

Strickland issued a written opinion to explain why he found McClain guilty of driving with a suspended license while riding a motorized two-wheeler along a Springfield street.

“Because the conveyance cannot be defined as a bicycle, it is a motor vehicle,” Strickland wrote.

... Springfield police ticketed McClain six times earlier this year for driving with a suspended license after repeatedly finding him riding his motorized two-wheeler along city streets.

... Initially, police did not characterize McClain’s vehicle — which more closely resembles a moped with pedals than a 10-speed — as anything other than an electric bicycle. They say it’s illegal for anyone to power up and ride an electric-assisted bike if he or she is ineligible for a driver’s license.

..etc.. Clearly his "conveyance" is a scooter-bike and later they mention the dealer as being Electric Wheels.

Scooter bikes are in this grey area where - yeah, they come with pedals, but many people operate them without pedals, and in any case the pedals aren't all that useful.

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gasdive
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Points: 90
Re: When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?

The law in Australia is completely clear.

bicycle means a vehicle with 2 or more wheels that is built to be
propelled by human power through a belt, chain or gears (whether or
not it has an auxiliary motor), and:
(a) includes a pedicab, penny-farthing and tricycle; but
(b) does not include a wheelchair, wheeled recreational device,
wheeled toy, or any vehicle with an auxiliary motor capable
of generating a power output over 200 watts (whether or not
the motor is operating).

However the police hate those chinese bicycles that look like scooters. So they keep charging them and writing tickets. Eventually someone fought the ticket in court and the judge ruled that despite fact that you can propel the scooter look bicycles using human power they weren't *primarily* designed to be propelled by human power and that was enough to uphold the charges of riding unlicenced, unregistered, uninsured and unhelmeted. There's nothing in the law that says the human power has to be the primary source of power nor defines how you tell which is the primary source, but there you go. That's now the precedent and the clear law has been muddied.
=:)

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Blogging my Zero DS from day one http://zerods.blogspot.com/

Persona Non-Grata
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Re: When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?

In British Columbia, there is a fairly straight forward definition too. It MUST have working pedals (whether detachable or not), have no more one (1) electric motor, have 3 or fewer wheels that touch the ground when operating, not exceed 500 Watts power or be capable of exceeding 32kph with motor assistance (32kph was picked as an average of what a human can pedal on their own), and NOT utilize a combustion engine (which would make it a moped which is a whole different kettle of fish, legally). Physical shape is irrelevant as that is mostly cosmetic or to do with airflow. That’s approximately how the rules stand now, most scooter looking ones sold in B.C. (at least mine) have a sticker on the front stating that they comply with law X, article Y, paragraph Z. (I’m too lazy to look at the actual sticker right now)

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MikeB
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Points: 517
Re: When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?

If I was writing the laws today, I'd make it ultra simple: a bicycle can't have a motor. If you put a motor on a bicycle frame, you are creating a moped, and must follow all laws that apply to small scooters. If your motor is big enough (generally more powerful than a 50cc gas engine), then you've got a full motorcycle rather than a scooter.

That way there's no judgement call by the police when you whiz by at 25mph. Motorized is not a bicycle, pure human muscle power is a bicycle.

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EZrider
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Re: When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?

"When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?"

Easy. When a small town judge sides with his buddies on the police force and pretends to be unfamiliar with State Law regarding Electric Bicycles.

I guess he must not have internet access, or be familiar with the term google, where he could have easily found the State Statutes which clearly define the matter:

Oregon Bicycle Laws

Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) Pertaining to Bicycles

814.405: Status of electric assisted bicycle.

An electric assisted bicycle shall be considered a bicycle, rather than a motor vehicle, for purposes of the Oregon Vehicle Code, except when otherwise specifically provided by statute. [1997 c.400 §4]

2008 OREGON STATUTES PERTAINING TO PEDESTRIANS AND BICYCLES

801.258801.258 “Electric assisted bicycle.”

“Electric assisted bicycle” means a vehicle that:
(1) Is designed to be operated on the ground on wheels;
(2) Has a seat or saddle for use of the rider;
(3) Is designed to travel with not more than three wheels in contact with the ground;
(4) Has both fully operative pedals for human propulsion and an electric motor; and
(5) Is equipped with an electric motor that:
(a) Has a power output of not more than 1,000 watts; and
(b) Is incapable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of greater than 20 miles per hour
on level ground. [1997 c.400 §2; 1999 c.59 §233]

________________________________________________________________________________

2009 OREGON STATUTES PERTAINING TO PEDESTRIANS AND BICYCLES

75th OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY--2009 Regular Session

NOTE: Matter within { + braces and plus signs + } in an amended section is new.
Matter within { - braces and minus signs - } is existing law to be omitted.

Relating to electric assisted bicycles; amending ORS 801.258,
811.525, 814.320, 815.230, 815.280, 816.050, 816.310, 816.320
and 816.340.

Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:
SECTION 1. ORS 801.258 is amended to read:
801.258. 'Electric assisted bicycle' means a vehicle that:
(1) Is designed to be operated on the ground on wheels;
(2) Has a seat or saddle for use of the rider;
(3) Is designed to travel with not more than three wheels in contact with the ground;
(4) Has both fully operative pedals for human propulsion and an electric motor; { - and - }
(5) Is equipped with an electric motor that:
(a) Has a power output of { - not more than 1,000 watts - }
{ + five horsepower or less + }; and
(b) Is incapable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of greater than { - 20 - } { + 35 + } miles per hour on level ground { - . - } { + ; and + }
{ + (6) Has tires that are at least eight inches in diameter. + }

_________________________________________________________________________________

I keep a printout of the above with me when riding, because of my XB-508 Scooter bike's appearance.

So far I have been stopped by the cops (here in Portland) on three seperate occasions so far while riding the bicycle- only path, due to it's appearance. I spun the pedals for them and handed them the above printout.

After reading only the above first sentence stating they are -not- considered motor vehicles, they hand it back and say please continue on your way, sorry to stop you.

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Mike - Oregon XB-508 with after- market 800watt motor and 72V upgrade
(Thanks to Member tips on V is for Voltage!)

LeftieBiker
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Re: When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?

Here in NY they are schizo. They have a decent definition - no more than 20MPH, IIRC, but they then ban power-assist bikes from streets and sidewalks. Happily, the law isn't widely enforced, although I'm sure a scooter-bike would get ticketed. I was never stopped when I rode a big, moped-like LA Free Sport around town.

robert93
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Points: 240
Re: When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?

"If I was writing the laws today, I'd make it ultra simple: a bicycle can't have a motor. "

I'm glad you didnt write the law, as I am legally blind and can only get around by bicycle, including electric assisted. It is so much nicer to get to places where a respectable appearance is important without looking like I came out of a swimming pool. In the early 80's, Ga had a solid loophole in the moped laws, a totally undefined term, "limited permit", which was mentioned expressly for mopeds. What was Ga law doing with this loophole? if a drunk lost his license, he could get a "limited permit" for a moped, on the theory that if he was drunk, he would be too mechanically hindered to start the motor. In the meantime, I was totally denied access to mopeds, as i was legally blind, and unable to drive a car. ON a good bike, I could outrun a moped for short distances, but at the expense of appearance when i arrived. I ran around illegally for about a year, and got around well, until i was caught. Hey, i had it coming I was breaking the law.

Ga infrastructure SUCKS for bicyclists, period. I for one am thankful for the lenient e-bike standards that dont call them to be licensed as mopeds as some states do. I also like the idea of lockable storage areas that these "scooterbikes" have, as well as a more visible profile than a standard "tubes and wheels" bicycle frame. Even if they are built like crap, they are more visible, and get better respect from drivers than bicycles here get.

Ga, Ca, Tx, all three have very clear, and fairly leniant bicycle laws. Some states have such confusing laws that you dont need a lawyer, you need a philosopher to decipher them, that is the larger problem. laws made without understanding of application or design considerations are more than obvious if you read some states laws.

I do agree that some of these "scooter-bikes" are far from acceptable, not for their departure from standard bicycle design, but from their departure of the required safety/quality standards that most retail manufactured bicycles are held to. The pedals should , and are supposed to be able to propel the bike, even if it is at 5mph, and the pedals are supposed to be solid enough to not fall off while doing so. This was a requirement for mopeds as well, or they were motorcycles. If people take the pedals off, they are in clear violation of any concept of "bicycle" and should have just gotten a real scooter, especially if they are modding them for far beyond HR 727 standards.

Sergei
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Points: 19
Re: When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?

It is usual related with speed.
Pedelec is a electric bike that reaches maximum 25km/h
An E-bike is also an electric bike, can also be controlled by a pedelec sensor but can go faster up to max 40km/h
But E-bike users must use a helmet and pay for an insurance.

A electric scooter : max 40km/h the main difference with an e-bike : scooters have no pedals, same rules to drive them as E-bikes.
A electric moto: no speed limit as they usual can reach high speeds with combustion engines

The bike infrastructure is varying alot within Europe.
Some good up to 30km/h ; others very dangerous at this speed.
So not a good idea to drive faster then 30km/h and alwas use good brakes at higher speeds AND E-brakes that switch-off the motor as soon when the brake lever is moved.

Without an E-brake, the motor can still run for 1 to 2 seconds depending on the controller used on pedelec sensor based systems.

Derby
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Re: When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?

There is a US law that claims to override state and local laws regarding electric bicycles that are limited to 20 MPH and have a motor of less than 750 Watts.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/usc_sec_15_00002085----000-.html

The rider, in the story, would have been guilty at least once because he had a pedal missing on that one occasion.

I know I'm a little late to the party here, but, hey, I just joined the site this month. :)

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2011 Current C124, 2011 Think City & 2008 Camry Hybrid.

robert93
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Re: When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?

the "pre-emptive" portion of that note sets a minimum limit in the event a state has no e-bike statutes, but does not suppress more aggressive statutes, and particularly deals with the construction, rather than user certifications/licensing, as some have found out.

Derby
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Re: When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?

Not being an attorney, I could misunderstand the legal terms. However, reading it in simple English it states:

(d) Preemption
This section shall supersede any State law or requirement with respect to low-speed electric bicycles to the extent that such State law or requirement is more stringent than the Federal law or requirements referred to in subsection (a) of this section.

That would seem to suppress more aggressive statutes.

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Three vehicles in the household, 2 1/2 are electric.
2011 Current C124, 2011 Think City & 2008 Camry Hybrid.

safe
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Re: When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?

There is a simple answer....

Electric bicycles will have conditions of use that require pedaling.

Electric motorcycles (even with pedals attached) allow people to be lazy and never have to pedal.

"Voluntary Pedaling" really means it's effectively a "motorcycle".

----------------

It's the "conditions of use" that is where discussions need to occur. Under what conditions should you pedal? Uphills? Slow speeds? Fast speeds?

LeftieBiker
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Re: When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?

That answer may be "simple" but it isn't very helpful. New York State defines scooters as "mopeds" even when they can go 55MPH. The ones that go faster than 30MPH require motorcycle licenses despite being defined as "mopeds." Actual electric bicycles are banned from streets and sidewalks. If there were an easy answer it would have been provided long ago.

safe
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Re: When is an electric bicycle not an electric bicycle?

The Federal Ebike Law goes:

20 mph top speed (before motor disengages in some way)

Must have pedals

Horsepower at the rear wheel limited to one

--------------

That's the legal framework, but I'm talking in the more abstract and philosophical sense.

What makes the machines NOT motorcycles.

There are way too many ebikes that are sporting 5 hp and above these days.

(illegal, but popular)

-----------------

Most states allow the standard "20 mph, pedals, 1 hp" (or better) but New York might be one of the few with really strict rules or ban them.

You could move to another state...

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