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E-bikes up for legal test in Oregon

Posted by on April 21st, 2011 at 4:02 pm

“If you’re in court, they’ll look at the body of statutes, and it is not crystal clear.”
— David House, Oregon DMV

There’s a case brewing in Springfield (near Eugene), Oregon that could set a precedent and clarify several legal issues around the operation of electric-assisted bicycles. We broke down much of the legal morass around e-bikes in a post last year, but adding complexity — and confusion — to the issues are cases where the bicycle operator has a suspended or revoked driver’s license.

Here’s a snip from the Register-Guard, which reported on a case involving Springfield resident and e-bike rider Paul McClain earlier this month:

The Ohm electric-assist bicycle-6.jpg
It’s a motor, but is it a “motor vehicle”?
(Photo © J. Maus)

“Since March 24, police have stopped and cited McClain five times for driving with a suspended license. In each instance, police told McClain that he can’t use the electric bicycle… unless he first gets his driving privileges reinstated.

Still, [police officer Shawn] Monson acknowledged that the law McClain cites in making his case — the one that states an “electric-assisted bicycle shall be considered a bicycle, rather than a motor vehicle … except when otherwise specifically provided by statute” — raises an issue that needs to be reviewed by a judge or a jury…”

Interestingly, we’ve also recently heard about a similar case.

Drew Peters lives in a hilly part of Southeastern Eugene. His driver’s license has been revoked for a minimum of 10 years (and possibly life) for what he describes as “some mistakes I made over the last 15 years,” some of which include three DUII convictions.

“Every time I call the DMV, I get a different answer… All I want is the ability to commute, work, and function in the community.”
— Drew Peters

“Losing driving privileges meant losing my career and in turn a lot of hard times for my family and I,” Peters told us via email. He’s been unemployed for over a year and said he’s trying to turn his life around; but without a means of transportation, it has been difficult.

Peters figured a bicycle with an electric motor would be a good option. However, the Oregon DMV and Eugene Municipal Courts have sent him mixed messages as to whether or not he can legally operate one.

“Every time I call the DMV, I get a different answer.”

We spoke with Oregon DMV spokesman David House. He acknowledged that this situation occupies a messy legal grey area that needs to be cleaned up.

In this case, there are two key areas of confusion in Oregon law. The first is the inconsistent use of the terms “vehicle” and “motor vehicle” throughout the Oregon Revised Statutes. The two terms are used interchangeably — yet the former specifically includes bicycles and the latter does not. This makes it hard to always know what laws apply to bicycles (or, by extension e-bikes), and which ones do not.

The other area of confusion has to do with whether or not people with suspended or revoked driver’s licenses are allowed to operate an e-bike at all. Here’s the relevant Oregon law (via an ODOT fact sheet):

“Although a driver license is not required for… electric assisted bicycles… riders must be… eligible for driving privileges.”

So, the questions are: Which laws that apply to “vehicles” and “motor vehicles” also apply to e-bikes? And, if someone has a revoked or suspended driver’s license, are they still “eligible for driving privileges” and therefore able to legally operate an e-bike?

“There isn’t an answer to these questions,” says Oregon DMV spokesperson David House. “When it gets down to the legal minutiae, it comes down to court precedents and this one has been ruled both ways.”

House blames the lack of consistent language in the ORS as the cause of confusion. “If you’re in court, they’ll look at the body of statutes, and it is not crystal clear.”

According to House, the bottom line is that, “It’s not clear in statute that you can operate an e-bike on public roads while your driving privileges are suspended… It’s a classic case of tell it to the judge.”

Meanwhile, Drew Peters just wants a way to get around so he can work and feed his family*. He’s following the McClain case closely and Peters hopes that a ruling in McClain’s favor sets a positive precedent for people in his situation.

“All I want is the ability to commute, work, and function in the community.”

McClain’s court date is May 4th. We’ll let you know how it turns out.

[*Of course, this raises the issue of whether or not it's a good idea for people with suspended or revoked licenses to be able to operate a bicycle; but that's a topic for another day.]

— For more on e-bike laws, read our post, “E-bikes, the law, and you,” from August 2010.

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Comments
  • Dude April 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    An e-bike has a motor. I’d say that pretty clearly makes it a “motor vehicle.” And thus people without driver licenses need to learn to pedal.

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    • Michweek April 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm

      an ebike may have a motor, but it isn’t necessarily [i]motorized[/i]. This is why it falls in a grey area.

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      • sorebore April 21, 2011 at 10:47 pm

        To Michweek.. Motors are electric, while Engines produce combustion. or so I am told.

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        • 9watts April 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm

          Well, you might think of it this way: in engines that combust fuel, it is the combustion that produces the motion. What comes out of the tailpipe is another matter.

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    • Jackattak April 21, 2011 at 5:08 pm

      Not true at all. You don’t need a driver’s license to operate a moped.

      http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/vehicle/pocketbike_factsheet.shtml

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      • q`Tzal April 21, 2011 at 5:57 pm

        Legally inaccurate:
        http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/driverid/moped.shtml
        A moped (Restricted Class C) driver license authorizes the operation of mopeds only.
        This seems to imply that a license is required to operate a moped.

        http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/807.html
        807.031 Classes of license.
        (5) A restricted Class C license authorizes a person to operate a moped or to operate under one of the permits described in ORS 807.200 as constituting a restricted Class C license. The person may not operate any vehicle for which an endorsement is required or be granted any endorsements for the license.

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      • Spiffy April 21, 2011 at 7:55 pm

        quote from that page:
        “Although a driver license is not required for … electric assisted bicycles … riders must be at least 16 years old and be eligible for driving privileges. It is also possible for a person whose driving privileges are suspended or revoked to be charged with operating any motorized vehicle while suspended/revoked”

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    • NK January 23, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Oregon defines motor vehicle at ORS 801.360: “Motor vehicle means a vehicle that is self-propelled or designed for self-propulsion.”

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  • Marcus Griffith April 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    If everyone agree the law isn’t clear, than wouldn’t the law be unconstitutionally vague?

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  • I April 21, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Didn’t the washington supreme court rule that motor vehicle standards couldn’t apply to bikes because most of the requirements for driving just don’t apply to bikes? Wouldn’t that be the same here?

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  • 9watts April 21, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    “Drew Peters just wants a way to get around so he can work and feed his family”
    Not to split hairs, but an unassisted bike is much cheaper and should do the trick in most instances I can think of. Legal issues aside, the ‘I need to feed my family so I need to use an electrically assisted bike to get around’ seems a bit curious.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 21, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      9watts,

      Mr. Peters lives in a hilly area outside of downtown Eugene and he has health conditions that make e-bikes much easier for him to use.

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      • 9watts April 21, 2011 at 5:14 pm

        Hm. O.K.

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      • eli bishop April 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm

        thanks, jonathan. ebikes make commutes possible in all sorts of circumstances.

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    • neptronix April 23, 2011 at 12:11 am

      Actually if you are going 30 miles at 20mph on an electric bike, you use about 15 cents of electric energy to do it.

      If you go 30 miles at 20mph on a pedal bike, you use over 1000 calories to do it, that’s a meal’s worth of calories on top of what you’d normally eat during the day.

      An electric bike is a lot cheaper to operate once it is purchased. And mindblowingly cheaper to operate than a car.

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  • John Lascurettes April 21, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Seems to me that “eligible for driving privileges” means old enough and physically and mentally capable of driving; in other words, ordinarily eligible to apply for a license if one did not have one.

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  • wsbob April 21, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    “… [*Of course, this raises the issue of whether or not it's a good idea for people with suspended or revoked licenses to be able to operate a bicycle; but that's a topic for another day.] ” maus/bikeportland

    Whether or not a person with the type of record Paul McClain and Drew Peters has, should operate any vehicle on the road, is really the central question. People should ask themselves what is gained by restricting such people from operating heavy weight motor vehicles such as cars, and whether that distinction alone is enough of a restriction.

    If it is, then why not open the door to operation by such people, of all motor vehicles under the weight of say…500lbs, that travel under speeds of say…15mph? Would limitations such as those I just provided examples of, allow the general road using public to feel that safety of the roads from these people had been effectively addressed?

    Electric and electric assist bikes are getting better and faster. Electric scooters and motorcycles that travel way over 15mph, already exist. If the public feels there’s a need to limit use of these vehicles by people with DUI convictions, it’s time to be specific about that.

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  • Skid April 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    E-bikes are not motor vehicles. If they were they would have to meet DOT standards for a moped as far as lighting is concerned, for example. Do E-bikes have turn signals? Do you have to register them with the DMV. If not they are not motor vehicles.

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    • wsbob April 21, 2011 at 11:14 pm

      Not to contradict just for the point of doing that, but I think people have pointed to the Oregon statutes referring to bikes as vehicles. Electric bikes and electric assist bikes have motors. That would logically make them ‘motor vehicles’.

      And look at q`Tzal’s post just below at April 21, 2011 at 6:06 pm. Any motorized vehicle capable of traveling 20mph…even somewhat slower, is one that, as a road user, I’d want to be reasonably sure of that the operator would be operating it while sober.

      Now look at Jackattak’s comment at April 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm, where he responds to captainkarma’s remark about “…3-wheel electric scooter things seniors use to such advantage. …” . Isn’t about 7mph top end for those rigs? I think…think that for pedestrians (cause these seem to be primarily sidewalk vehicles.), this might be a manageable speed for a vehicle to be operated by persons having been convicted of and as such, still at risk of driving DUI.

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  • captainkarma April 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Not a fan of E-bikes, one should have to sweat a little in order to blow past me, ay carumba.

    But to throw a little more confusion to the fire, wouldn’t whatever they do about e-bikes likely apply to the 3-wheel electric scooter things seniors use to such advantage. Logical, Mr. Spock?

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    • gumby April 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm

      Not everyone is physically capable of riding a non-assisted bike. e-bikes open up a great option for these people. Plus, anything that gets people out of their cars gets my vote.

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    • neptronix April 23, 2011 at 12:20 am

      You can pedal on an electric bike to add to the speed, and still get a workout.

      I use my electric bike to get me from Beaverton to Portland via the 10 / Terwilliger. It is like a 7 mile hill climb. I am sweaty by the time i get into Portland.. the difference is that i’m averaging 20 miles per hour and getting there in half the time, plus i am not physically ruined on the trip back.. If i didn’t pedal, the motor would only carry me up that hill around 10mph and beat on my poor batteries, reducing my range..

      I’ve pedaled that route on a 700c bike and it is gnarly..

      Just sayin… ebikes are generally not fast enough to run without pedal assistance, unless you have modified yours past the legal amount of power.

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  • Jackattak April 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    captainkarma
    But to throw a little more confusion to the fire, wouldn’t whatever they do about e-bikes likely apply to the 3-wheel electric scooter things seniors use to such advantage.

    HAHAHA yeah right the AARP would have a field day if they tried anything like that against Grandpa’s Little Rascal.

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  • q`Tzal April 21, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Modify 801.258 “Electric assisted bicycle.”
    (b) Is incapable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of greater than 20 miles per hour on level ground { + purely under electric power + }. [1997 c.400 §2; 1999 c.59 §233]

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    • velvetackbar June 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm

      that would knock the Stokemonkey out of the category. I think I get 2-3mph unassisted.

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  • huh April 21, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    o.O

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  • Paul Hanrahan April 21, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    The reason why they lost their license was because they were a danger to society: driving a vehicle that can kill. Granted, it is possible to do the same with a bicycle, but the odds are greatly diminished. I like the idea having definitions of an electric bicycle (“incapable of propelling…”) and letting them operate it to be able to hold a job, etc. The laws needs to be
    defined a little better. (like my sentences!)

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    • NK January 23, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      The reason McClain lost his license was that he was driving without insurance – not exactly a reckless driver or DUI who endangers society.

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      • Paul Johnson January 23, 2014 at 4:27 pm

        I’m going to have to disagree on the semantics. Driving without insurance has a real potential to financially ruin an unsuspecting victim, it’s the second hand smoke of dangerous driving.

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  • brandon April 21, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Do you have to be a legal driving age to use an e-bike?

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    • John Lascurettes April 21, 2011 at 11:30 pm

      Since you have to be “eligible” to hold a drivers license, the answer is yes.

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    • eli bishop April 22, 2011 at 10:32 pm

      no.

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    • velvetackbar June 8, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      I believe that is the case, although the few times my daughter has helped me haul packages to the PO on my wife’s stoked Xtracycle, i haven’t worried too much. She thinks its “weird”

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  • Spiffy April 21, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    I don’t think a DUI in a 3500 lb metal box should be on par with DUI on a 50 lb electric bike…

    the reason DUI is such a big deal is because you can easily kill people with your car… it’s just not as easy with a bicycle… therefore they shouldn’t be anywhere near equal…

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  • She April 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    I agree with Spiffy, isn’t important to help those that get DUI (s) turn their lives around? There are definitely places that a regular bike would be a serious hardship to ride to a work site in Oregon… Perhaps they should be allowed with the understanding that if they misuse/abuse this opportunity there is no other option other than the self powered bike.

    Interesting ethical dilemma, I say…

    Maybe their should be a separate licensing for E-bikes…

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  • Bjorn April 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    kind of makes you wonder if he has gotten 5 tickets because a cop has learned what he looks like or if he is riding the ebike in such a way that he has managed to get pulled over 5 times in a very short period… I have never been pulled over on my bike, so it makes me wonder how he is getting pulled over so often.

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    • wsbob April 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm

      “… kind of makes you wonder if he has gotten 5 tickets because a cop has learned what he looks like or if he is riding the ebike in such a way that he has managed to get pulled over 5 times in a very short period… ” Bjorn

      Yep. I wondered about that too. Have the cops just ‘got this guy’s number’, or is he standing out in some way. Wonder what kind of “…electric bicycle…” he’s riding. Some of them look almost like ordinary bikes. Maybe his doesn’t.

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  • michael bogoger April 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    A bicycle in Oregon is a vehicle. It is an offense to dive a vehicle in a manner inconsistent with pertainate laws. So why should a person who is restricted from driving be able to ride a bike of any description, much less one under power? In a more equal judicial system than ours, personal responsibility would be the bottom line.

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    • kerry April 22, 2011 at 10:19 am

      If you lose your license for a DUI and are then restricted from using ANY vehicle, you may as well just drive a car with your revoked license if the punishment is going to be the same anyway. Society is better off if high risk individuals ride bikes, even e-assist, than if they drive cars. Harm reduction!!

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  • ignorancewasbliss April 22, 2011 at 12:14 am

    O.R.S. 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.

    And from case law:
    ‘Mere use of term “motor vehicle” in vehicle code statute does not specifically provide for bicycles to be exempt from statute.’ State v. Potter, 185 Or App 81, 57 P3d 944 (2002)

    So, an electric assisted bicycle is NOT a motor vehicle but a bicycle is.

    This is all summed up pretty well here:
    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/docs/pocketbikeguide.pdf

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  • jim April 22, 2011 at 12:51 am

    I believe you don’t need a motorcycle endorsement for under 50cc. I would guess that if you compared e bikes and 50cc gas it would be less? 50cc is pretty small. a 3 1/2 hp brigs and straton lawn mower is 150cc

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    • neptronix April 23, 2011 at 12:08 am

      A legal electric bike has even less power than a 50cc gas motor.

      Sounds like they are just picking on this guy because they can.

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  • The eBike Store April 22, 2011 at 6:06 am

    Starting our third year in operation, I have come to believe that the eBike laws on the books are generally well written.
    20 MPH – Some customers have asked me to soup up their bikes to provide power up to 30MPH. I won’t. Around 10 or so have done so anyway. I have yet to see a customer with an overpowered ebike avoid a hospital visit within 6 months of their illegal modifications. One loophole in the speed limit is that it does not apply to pedal activated bikes. My belief is that the law should be amended to state that motors cannot continue to provide assistance once they have reach 20 MPH.
    Helmet Required – Simply makes sense
    Can’t use motor on sidewalk – I hate having a cyclist scream by me when I am walking down the sidewalk. eBikes operate well at walking speeds, but it makes sense to turn them off.
    Eligible for a driver’s license – As a state, we require driver’s licenses because of the potential harm that one can cause with a car. We don’t require license for bikes, because whilst you can really hurt yourself, a cyclist’s ability to harm others is somewhat limited by their lack of mass and velocity. Does adding a 20 lb motor system and a few more MPH cross the threshold of one’s ability to do harm? Possibly. I know that I don’t want 14 year kids test riding my bikes – but permitting DUI offenders to use them could be a net gain to society if it enables someone to work and reduces the probability that they drive on a suspended license.
    Because I make my living from electric bikes, you might be thinking that my views are guiding by a desire for greater profit – of course they are. However, because of the increased maintenance / warranty claims I have lost money on sales to folks I suspect are using eBikes to counter their DUI convictions
    From an economic standpoint, our national debt currently at $45k for every man, woman and child in the US. Unless we start see folks convicted of DUIs creating harm with electric assisted bikes, my belief is that we should support technologies that encourage them to become productive members of society.

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    • spare_wheel April 22, 2011 at 8:08 am

      ~25 mph is my cruising speed on a *conventional* bike. perhaps you should rethink your 20 mph rule.

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      • A.K. April 22, 2011 at 9:10 am

        There is a difference though when someone uses their own power to reach that speed, or has an electric motor do it for them.

        To me, it seems like an overly-quick electric assist cycle would be much easier for an inexperienced rider to lose control of the bike.

        Also, how much torque do these things have? I’ve never ridden one, but even when I’m spinning along at 25 MPH, I can’t start out from a flat stop at 25 MPH… it takes me a bit to work up to that speed. I imagine an electric bike can propel the rider to that speed much more quickly.

        Lastly, I’m not the fastest person out there (my general cruising speed is somewhere around 18-20 when I’m not working very hard), but I almost never get passed by anyone when I’m out riding, except by other roadies who are really hammering. If I’m not getting passed at 18-20 MPH, do we really need people with limited bike-handling ability zipping around in the same spaces at 30 MPH?

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      • C-Dawg April 22, 2011 at 9:53 am

        I assume you’re kidding about “25 mph is my cruising speed”, unless you’ve won the TdF a bunch of times.

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        • Brian E. April 22, 2011 at 10:34 am

          It’s not too difficult for an above average cyclist to hold 25mph for periods of time if they get to rest when they feel strained. It gets difficult when you try to hold that speed for more than 5 or 10 minutes steady.

          I’d throw a wild guess out that there are 1,000 to 2,500 cyclist in the Portland area that can do this.

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          • C-Dawg April 22, 2011 at 11:35 am

            I completely agree, however, brief bursts of speed do not equal “cruising speed”. Portland Velo’s top most elite group ride is 21+ mph. If there is someone in Portland routinely “cruising” at 25 mph, they need sponsorship and should bring home the overall TdF win for all of us here in Oregon.

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          • eli bishop April 22, 2011 at 10:36 pm

            “It gets difficult when you try to hold that speed for more than 5 or 10 minutes steady.”

            the same is true for ebikes: you aren’t going to go that fast for long, or you’ll run out your battery.

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        • spare_wheel April 22, 2011 at 11:17 am

          53×11 at 60 rpm = 23 mph.

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          • Psyfalcon April 22, 2011 at 1:21 pm

            I think the argument doesn’t stand anyway. There are people who can maintain 20- 30 for a respectable distance. It usually takes some training or experience to do that. Do we really want people to jump on a ebike with no experience and do 30 on flat ground?

            30 is faster than residential speed limits. Do they come standard with a speedometer?

            I used to use hwy26 as my commute route from the zoo to Goose Hollow. The difference in handling between a bike doing 20, 30, and 40 is huge. One bike shimmies at 35, the other around 40. Some bikes are worse, are we going to require testing to see if the bike is stable at 35mph? An E assist will make smaller hills faster hills.

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        • spare_wheel April 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm

          There are many cyclists in PDX who can maintain ~25 mph on a flat for a significant period of time. Limiting e-bikes to 20 mph when human powered cyclists can go faster seems like “speedism” to me.

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          • El Biciclero April 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm

            E-bikes are not absolutely limited to 20 mph. 20 is the max they are allowed to attain without human input, i.e., without pedaling. The only thing you can’t do is coast along in a flat bike lane at >20 using just the motor.

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    • wsbob April 22, 2011 at 7:18 pm

      “… We don’t require license for bikes, because whilst you can really hurt yourself, a cyclist’s ability to harm others is somewhat limited by their lack of mass and velocity. … The eBike Store

      As long as the cyclist is sober and capable of properly operating the bike, whether it’s pedal powered only, electric assist, or electric powered, that rationale arguably allows for an acceptable risk to other road users.

      If there’s a significant risk a person may choose to ride any of these bikes while intoxicated, it becomes questionable whether the risk is reasonable. Once a person is caught driving drunk or otherwise intoxicated, why are they forbidden for a period of time from driving a motor vehicle? Because…they’ve demonstrated that there’s a very good chance, if they’re allowed continued driving privileges…that they’ll just keep on driving intoxicated, and as a result, possibly hurt people, cause property damage, etc.

      The weight mass of a bike and rider is certainly less than that of a 2000 pound or more motor vehicle and driver. People should really think a bit though, upon just what the significance might be of being hit by a cyclist traveling 20mph. 20mph doesn’t sound very fast if you’ve been conditioned to think of speed in a motor vehicle context. If what’s being hit is a person…a pedestrian…20mph is actually very fast. Even 10mph is dangerously fast if you’re unlucky enough not to be able to step out of the way of a drunk cyclist bearing down on you at 10mph or faster.

      Bikes, electric assist and electric powered bikes can be a great boon to relieving people of the cost of motor vehicle ownership and operation, and to relieving the road system of too much use of cars, buses and trucks. Allowing their use by people convicted of DUI that are waiting out a driver’s license suspension period is not really giving the public the protection from these people that responsible, sober members of the public should be able to expect.

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  • Chris I April 22, 2011 at 7:07 am

    E-Bikes are great. I don’t plan on getting one, but if they can get people out of their cars, great.

    Even better, if they can be established as a way for drivers with suspended licenses to stay mobile, it will be easier for judges to suspend licenses. No more of this leniency because they “need their car to get to work”.

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  • jim April 22, 2011 at 7:47 am

    if they ride these in the bike lane should they have a speed limit other than the normal road limit? Would they be required to use a bike lane?

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  • Evan April 22, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Not sure if any other comments have covered this, but doesn’t the ability to maintain a certain speed have something to do with this? Mopeds and scooters are only exempt from certain standards because they can maintain (but are limited to) speeds approaching 30 mph – fast enough to keep up with traffic on a typical local street. How fast can that bike go? (I.E. is it “street legal” and able to fully occupy a vehicle lane?) Or is it somewhere below that and therefore not considered a “motor” vehicle?

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  • El Biciclero April 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I would say that if you are operating a “vehicle” that may legally “operate upon a bicycle lane”–which includes “normal” bicycles, electric scooters (e.g., the “Rascal”), and e-bikes that cannot do more than 20mph using strictly electric power–you shouldn’t need a driver’s license to do so.

    Defining “motor vehicle” is becoming trickier to do now that cars may not have a combustion engine. I would imagine that some kind of definition based on power/speed capabilities and weight might be necessary. Oregon should also clean up the language in the ORS to use “vehicle” when they mean to apply a law to cars, trucks, bikes, e-bikes, etc. and “motor vehicle” when they mean to apply a law only to the kinds of vehicles defined as such. I don’t think we can use “vehicle” and “motor vehicle” interchangeably anymore.

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  • dwainedibbly April 22, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    This is a slippery slope and frankly it frightens me.

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    • Psyfalcon April 22, 2011 at 6:18 pm

      What is a slippery slope? The original story is about clarifying existing legislation. Is clarifying the law a slipper slope? To what?

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    • DK April 25, 2011 at 10:55 am

      LOL.
      Frightened of what?

      I’d let my teenage son commute on an e-bike if he were so inclined and he’s not of age to be licensed. Ebikes are bikes…bottom line.

      There are no speed restrictions imposed on the manufacture of your family sedan. …Frightening?

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  • neptronix April 23, 2011 at 12:06 am

    An electric bicycle is not classified a motor vehicle, it sounds like this guy is basically just getting screwed with because cops don’t like him for some reason.

    Oregon law clearly states that you don’t need a driver’s liscense to operate an electric or pedal bike.

    And why they would want to harass this person is beyond me.

    An electric bike allows people with disabilities or crazy hills nearby to get places without a car. I am all for them because it means one car off the road. It means less oil being used.. it means less pollution..

    They are not a replacement for a bicycle, they are a replacement for a car. A lot of people don’t understand that..

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    • Paul McClain April 27, 2011 at 6:23 pm

      Chris I
      E-Bikes are great. I don’t plan on getting one, but if they can get people out of their cars, great.
      Even better, if they can be established as a way for drivers with suspended licenses to stay mobile, it will be easier for judges to suspend licenses. No more of this leniency because they “need their car to get to work”.

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  • Paul Tay April 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Rule of law, over-rated. http://www.thenewspaper.com/rlc/docs/2008/vanderbilt.pdf

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  • Dude April 24, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I think they should have a way to keep convicted drunk drivers that cannot operate motor vehicles from riding e-bikes. They are highly likely to crash somehow, most likely going to sleep driving, going through red lights, crossing the center lane, smashing peds at crosswalks…… It’s not fair for motorists to have this happen to them if it could have been prevented in the first place. Sure its better that they don’t drive, however giving them a lessor evil doesn’t make it right.

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  • Greenerwheels April 25, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    First off, I will admittedly say, I am pro ebike, putting performance limitations on ebikes only serves only to limit manufacturers and dealers liabilities.
    Truth of the matter is whether a bicycle has no motor an electric motor, gas motor or rocket motor it is the driver of the vehicle responsibility to drive in a manor that does not put anyone at risk!
    Several people have mentioned a bike will cause less damage than a car in the case of an accident. How about the under the influence rider of a bike that veriers out into traffic that causes a car, truck or bus to make an emergency maneuver to avoid the cyclist and instead causes an accident with another car or pedestrian.
    I’ve lost 2 close friends to DUI drivers, and if you’re caught driving under the influence, no matter what you’re driving, no driving any vehicle is fine by me. If this gentleman wants to get back to a normal life, I suggest he moves closer to his work and walks there.
    As for ebike laws or bike laws period, ride responsibly for the environment you are in and respect those around you. If you screw up, you need to accept responsibility for your actions if you cant do that, you probably shouldn’t be on the road with any set of wheels.

    Greenerwheels

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    • Jenni Simonis June 8, 2011 at 10:16 am

      Should we then stop them from walking as well? They could be walking down the street drunk, go out into traffic, and cause a car to swerve around them and hit another vehicle. The exact same argument you use for bikes can be used for them just walking down the street as well. I’ve lost people to DUI as well, so I’m not making light of the situation.

      I think what people aren’t getting is that an ebike isn’t like a motorcycle or moped. It isn’t going to propel you at 30 mph for your entire trip. You’re not going to get on an ebike, turn on the motor, and it take you where you want to go. You’d run out of electricity for the motor long before you get there.

      It’s more about assisting you while you’re riding, especially if you have hills or sloped roads to ride on. It can help you in those difficult times, help increase your speed a little more so you can get places a little faster, etc. For those whose commute might be just a little too far to do by a regular bike, an ebike may be just what they need to be able to make their commute on a bike possible. That means healthier people, less cars on the road, and less pollution in the air.

      I’ve been considering getting one myself because I’d like to get around town on a bike, but with knee and foot injuries, I wouldn’t be able to get very far because of area hills. With an ebike, I’d get assistance in those areas where I would struggle, making it easier to get places without being in pain.

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  • Paul Johnson April 26, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Given that the first motorcycles were bicycles with motors, I’m actually surprised it’s legal to operate an electric bike without a valid license with an “M” endorsement.

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  • K-Luv April 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Just to let EVERYONE know Mr. McClain did not get a DUI!!

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  • Paul McClain April 27, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    well to all of the people who do not know the police are super silly it is a bike they thoght it was a moped an they know i aint got a D.L. news flash electric pedal assist bikes are B.I.K.E.S. (owner of the bike)

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  • D.P. April 28, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    The ticket for operating a motor assisted bike while suspended is a “driving while suspended”….the same ticket as it would be if you were in a car. Fair? I like the comment..might as well drive a car then. There is not much of a life in this society left for a person with 3 dui convictions, even if they try to turn things around…especially if they cannot join the e_bike community. Life without transportation is life without independence. Expecting to find work next door to your home is unrealistic. What is gained by DMV letting anybody without a license (ability 2 get), 16yo, or other use an ebike….just not those who are suspended for what they did in a car? Any way to make it back from this dreadful mistake? Does a child learn if we put them in an unreasonably time out…10min…10 days…? Life?

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  • Alan 1.0 August 25, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon:

    “Senior Judge Raymond White agreed with Municipal Judge James Strickland’s June ruling that the battery-assisted two-wheeler that McClain rode on March 24 qualified as a motor vehicle — in part because one of its pedals was missing that day. White also reduced McClain’s fine for the violation from $472 to $354.

    “The retired Jackson County Circuit Court judge confined his ruling to the particulars of that case, however. That means he set no legal precedent for a larger question untested in Oregon courts: When does a battery-assisted bicycle become a motor vehicle?”

    More here.

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