Support BikePortland

Not so fast e-bike riders: Motors aren’t allowed on bike paths in Oregon State Parks

Posted by on July 6th, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Policymakers Ride - Gorge Edition-57

Riders on the Historic Columbia River State Trail.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Last week we posted a story about how electric bicycles have opened up new riding opportunities in the Columbia River Gorge. But it turns out it’s illegal to ride an e-bike on the Historic Columbia River State Trail — or on any other paved bike path within the Oregon State Parks system.

We’ve since updated that story with a note after learning about the issue from a commenter (Park Chambers, who happens to own Fat Tire Farm and Hood River Bikes) and then confirming the facts in a phone call with an Oregon State Parks spokesperson.

This prohibition of e-bikes on paved trails caught me off-guard. As pedal-assisted bikes gain in popularity, I think the issue merits a closer look.

What the laws say

Right now there’s confusion surrounding the issue because of how state laws are written. I asked bike law expert Charley Gee for a clarification.

“E-bikes are considered motor vehicles and they can’t operate on trails designated for pedestrians and bikes.”
— David Spangler, Oregon State Parks

“Electric-assisted bicycles are not legally bicycles,” Gee said. “But they are given the same status as bicycles under Oregon Revised Statute [ORS] 814.405.” That law states, “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.” The Oregon Vehicle Code is laid out in ORS chapters 801 through 825.

For all other laws, Gee says, “Electric-assisted bicycles are not considered ‘bicycles’ and cannot be considered as such when reading the law.”

In other words, the ORS Vehicle Code deals with highways and roadways and since paved paths meant for non-motorized uses within State Parks are neither, those laws don’t apply.

The State Parks and Recreation Department is governed by chapter 736 of the Oregon Administrative Rules (OARs), which classify electric bikes as ‘motor vehicles’. According to Oregon State Parks East Columbia River Gorge Park Manager David Spangler, “We define ‘motor vehicle’ as anything that has a motor and can transport a person, and we only allow motor vehicles on roads or other areas designated for this use.”

Unlike the Oregon Vehicle Code, which includes a statutory definition of e-bikes (ORS 801.258) and the aforementioned clarifying note about their legal status, the OARs don’t even mention e-bikes. Because of that silence on the topic, Spangler says, “E-bikes are considered motor vehicles and they can’t operate on trails designated for pedestrians and bikes.” (As per OAR 736-010-0025 (3)).

Advertisement

The no-ride list

Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-29.jpg

E-bikes are not allowed on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail.

Before you plan any e-bike rides in Oregon, you’d be wise to consult the State Parks search tool to see if your route includes any of their trails or paths. Here’s a few parks that are particularly popular for cycling:

  • Banks-Vernonia State Trail
  • Champoeg State Heritage Area
  • Cottonwood Canyon State Park
  • Deschutes River State Recreation Area
  • Elijah Bristow State Park
  • Fort Stevens State Park
  • Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail
  • Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail – Tooth Rock Trailhead
  • L.L. Stub Stewart State Park
  • La Pine State Park
  • OC and E Woods Line State Trail
  • Silver Falls State Park
  • Willamette Mission State Park

Is this a bad thing?

Yuba Spicy Curry cargo bike-3.jpg

Does Oregon really want to prohibit people from riding e-bikes in State Parks?

Unlike the raging and ongoing debate around e-MTBs on dirt singletrack, there’s no conservation or environmental controversy around paved trails. The argument for e-bikes on paved trails is very strong. They open up cycling to a huge new market of people who would otherwise never get in the saddle. The argument against them is probably the all-too-familiar philosophical objection against motors of any kind in non-motorized areas.

But what’s worse? A tourist on an e-bike rolling along at 18 mph while soaking up fantastic views of the Gorge — or someone training for a race on a high-end road bike swooshing downhill while narrowly avoided other path users? According to Spangler with Oregon State Parks, the latter scenario is the problem his office currently struggles with.

We can fix this

“I have no comment. All I know is e-bikes are wonderful.”
— Stephen Demosthenes, owner of e-bike rental business in Mosier

Like many annoying bike law issues (Idaho stops, mandatory sidepath laws, and so on), the big problem here is that we’re forced to deal with a set of laws that hasn’t kept up with advances in how bicycles are made or used. The status of e-bikes in the OAR needs to be addressed. Currently, Oregon State Parks is unable to issue a clear statement about their use and it’s leading to confusion among users and business owners.

Park Chambers, the Hood River bike shop owner, doesn’t rent e-bikes because he knows they’re illegal on the paths many of his customers would likely ride on — like the popular Twin Tunnels segment of the Historic Columbia River State Trail between Hood River and Mosier. But the legal status hasn’t stopped Mosier-based Route 30 Classics owner Stephen Demosthenes (the business owner we highlighted last week) from renting them. When asked for his opinion about renting e-bikes to customers who are very likely to ride them illegally, he said, “I have no comment. All I know is e-bikes are wonderful.”

With two new shops in Hood River now renting e-bikes, and with the Historic Columbia River State Trail getting more popular every year, this issue will only get worse if nothing is done about it. A sensible approach might be to focus on a maximum bicycle speed limit (20 mph let’s say) instead of whether or not the bicycle has a low-power, pedal-assisted motor.

Putting aside the debate about motors on bicycles, confusion in the public based on lack of legal clarity is not a good thing. We need to amend the OAR so that State Parks can give the public a simple “yes” or “no” answer about e-bikes on their paved paths. The OAR rulemaking process must begin with the agency itself; but on an issue like this it’s unlikely State Parks would take that first step until they are encouraged to do so by the public and/or a lawmaker, advocacy group, or other policymaking body.

So who’s up for it?

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

150
Leave a Reply

avatar
54 Comment threads
96 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
62 Comment authors
Frederick M. GreatorexEd ConradZachary ReedKelly9watts Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

What is it about paths through parks that makes them not highways, constitutionally not eligible for gas tax funds, and subject to administrative rule rather than traffic law? Certainly the ones named “state trail” and “highway state trail” would seem to fit. https://www.oregonlaws.org/glossary/definition/highway

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

We could also use some clarification of multi-use path (which is legally just a sidewalk, unless it’s a bike path?) with regard to right-of-way, speed limits, and use of electric bikes.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

Hear, hear! Once upon a time, ODOT called both bike lanes and bike paths bike trails. Later, they changed the nomenclature to bike lanes and bike paths. At that time, bike paths were roadways, under ODOT rules, which meant that they were roads without sidewalks or shoulders which gave the right-of-way to people on bikes. At some point over the past fifteen years, ODOT changed the nomenclature again such that bike paths are now shared use paths. They also stripped them of their prior designation as roads, so they are all sidewalks where pedestrians have the right-of-way.

So, we’ve had a progression from bike paths where bikes have the right of way to bike paths with unclear right of way to shared use paths, which are actually just off-street sidewalks, where pedestrians have the right of way.

This sort of thing results in a pincer-movement against cycling. As people learn to ride and get fit enough to ride faster than a jogging pace, they find that they are hated on bike paths (ahem, shared use paths). If they venture out onto the road proper, they are both too slow to effectively compete for road space and are despised by motorists, sometimes in a lethal fashion. So, we’re left with a dying breed of road-using cyclists as well as a not-growing group of path-using cyclists. Not surprisingly, we see most cyclists inclined to road riding driving somewhere to ride and many of the folks on bike paths also driving to the path to begin their rides. I find it all quite distressing and depressing, but don’t see enough allies ready to push back from our ever more splintered community.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Part of that history per bikeways may also be that State Parks was a department under ODoT…given that many were developed for motorist rest and recreation…plus the beach bill. [From what I remember reading…]

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

I didn’t know that history – but I agree with your overall sentiment. Bikes are 2nd class citizens to cars and peds – they are not given a priority anywhere in Portland. It’s really a shame.

Adam
Subscriber

Funny how “bike paths” became “multi-use paths” but no one ever decided it was a good idea to build them wider to accommodate more modes.

Michael Williams
Guest
Michael Williams

I am surprised at the top speeds people are willing to attribute to e-bikes that are treated the same as bicycles. I believe 20 MPH was mentioned in this article (too lazy to look it up). Many e-bike riders will have low or no bike handling skills. I would love to have them out there riding but dread giving them a 20 MPH motorcycle on a crowded path. Tourist rentals are probably the epitome of that scenario. Am I just being too elitist? Maybe…

TonyT
Subscriber
TonyT

“Many e-bike riders will have low or no bike handling skills.” [citation needed]

nc
Guest
nc

No citation needed, this isn’t wikipedia.

Spiffy
Subscriber

my girlfriend can be your citation… new to bikes and wants an e-bike so she doesn’t get sore riding any distance with people that aren’t new to bikes…

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

They should rent e-bikes along the waterfront and Better Naito. What could possibly go wrong?

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

“Many e-bike riders will have low or no bike handling skills.”

That could be said for many cyclists in general. And it could be said that many pedestrians have no awareness of the environment around them. Where do you draw the line?

Also, 20 mph isn’t that hard to do on a road bike.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

You draw the line when you make it too easy for someone lacking ability and judgment to endanger others. Riding 20mph is easy, but you have to be considerably more fit than average to sustain that.

Inattentive peds are an inherent part of the environment — especially on these paths. And frankly, people should be able to walk along a path in the outdoors without being at risk of being run down by someone going too fast. Kids and dogs are especially vulnerable as they’re prone to suddenly dart out. In a similar vein, these paths attract less experienced riders specifically because they’re nice and away from cars. Blowing by such riders is both obnoxious and dangerous.

If you go on a road cycling forum and advocate riding anywhere near 20mph on a MUP, they’ll come down on you like a ton of bricks, and with good reason. That there are already too many bad cyclists is a sign we should help them become better cyclists rather than encourage more to join their ranks.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“You draw the line when you make it too easy for someone lacking ability and judgment to endanger others.”

This made me chuckle. It perfectly describes the dispensing of driver’s licenses after requiring zero professional instruction and passing a joke of a test.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

“If you go on a road cycling forum and advocate riding anywhere near 20mph on a MUP, they’ll come down on you like a ton of bricks, and with good reason.”

Which MUPs are you thinking of? It’s not hard to hit 30mph on the Hwy 26 path, and considering that it’s mostly empty, there’s no harm in doing so. I slow down a bit when passing walkers, but not much. I might pass 1 or 2 walkers on the way down the hill in the afternoons.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Exactly. MUPs are a bad idea. Hence my problem with the “reasonable rates of speed” clause in the “public hearing” section of the mandatory sidepath law (ORS 814.420). If auto traffic is “limited” to 55-65mph on the freeway 30 feet away from me, there should be no restriction on going half that on my bike on the only real alternative to said freeway. Of course I use discretion and slow down when passing pedestrians that appear to be unaware, even after I’ve given an audible warning. Sometimes I slow to 20, sometimes I slow to 3, depending on the degree of awareness I can determine or the position/number/size (age) of pedestrians, or the presence of dogs.

If the MUP is clear, then it’s 30-ish all the way down, baby.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Yeah, depends on the walker(s). If someone is going in a straight line in front of me on the far right side of the path, I don’t slow down much. If there’s a group of kids or a dog, I slow down to jogging speed.

mran1984
Guest

For most folks it is impossibly to attain, let alone hold, 20 mph. It is a moped.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Maybe John L is using metric. I, too, can sustain 20 kph, but definitely not 20 mph.

Pete
Guest
Pete

When I commuted on the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail in the south bay area, evenings would regularly put 25 MPH tailwinds behind me, and there were (empty) stretches where I could soft-pedal at 30 MPH.

The trail lacks many speed limit signs, and there are regularly cyclists who complain to the BPAC about e-bikes on the trail going too fast. The city (Santa Clara has jurisdiction) waited until California put definitions and laws into place before it could take any action, and even now I believe they have simply deferred to the max speed limit (15 MPH) and state legal definition for trail applicability.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. This is exactly what I’m afraid of as more “bike infrastructure” gets built. Bicyclists will be confined to crowded spaces with too-low speed limits, while drivers continue to whiz by just feet away. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if the presence of separated infrastructure actually results in speed limits on adjacent roads being raised, since now those pesky bicyclists are out of the way. And where are those pesky bicyclists? On some stupid dog-leash-filled MUP with a 15-mph speed limit. Yes, that’s a worst-case, but watch it happen.

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

The bottom 50% probably couldn’t…that being said, they probably aren’t buying an ebike any time soon.

Champs
Guest
Champs

I’m fine with Class 1 & 2 bikes. Any idiot teenager on their first adult bike (guilty!) can do 20 under their own power. It’s unwise, but mostly harmless.

My problem is above that. Cat6 drag races up Williams (guilty again) are also unwise but slower than Class 3’s 28mph limit. Unlike many other countries, Americans can ride this downhill speed with no skill, much less license or insurance required.

It’s sad that this is the industry’s answer to flagging average selling prices, but it has run out of road making plastic bikes more springy, hydraulic, and otherwise electronic.

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

My wife and I demo-ed Faraday ebikes last night. I know for a fact she didn’t crack 20 miles an hour. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you have the confidence to. The assumption that everyone on ebikes are going to be riding 20 miles an hour swerving down the street in an unsafe manner, is false…

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

” Many e-bike riders will have low or no bike handling skills. I would love to have them out there riding but dread giving them a 20 MPH motorcycle on a crowded path.”

Sorry but I think this statement isn’t very valid, and is definitely based on hyperbole.
1) How do you expect anyone to gain bike handling skills except by riding? An e-bike still needs the rider to move the pedals, so even though it goes a bit faster, the physical coordination of actually riding remains consistent with an unassisted bike.
2) What data do you have that sorts experienced and unexperienced e-bike riders with assessments of their handling skills?
3) How crowded are these paths compared to other paths within city limits? What is the actual likelihood of a collision?
4) What is the likelihood of serious injury from collision with an ebike? Is it enough to warrant labeling the vehicles as unsafe and therefore banned from public paths? Does it outweigh the potential economic benefits of tourism and recreation?

Your fears seem unfounded in reality; your description even lacks anecdotal evidence. Perhaps you could refine your argument and try again later. Thanks!

rick
Guest
rick

just wow. but we saw how higher speed limits worked out for ODOT in recent years on state highways.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

“But what’s worse? A tourist on an e-bike rolling along at 18 mph while soaking up fantastic views of the Gorge — or someone training for a race on a high-end road bike swooshing downhill while narrowly avoided other path users? According to Spangler with Oregon State Parks, the latter scenario is the problem his office currently struggles with.”

Both are a menace and should be strongly discouraged.

My guess is that the reason Spangler worries more about e-bikes is that road cyclists come down hard on those who ride MUPs at high speed so the number of offenders is small — the only people who actually do this are physically strong newer riders who don’t know better.

Tourists on e-bikes riding close to 20mph is a terrible idea. That kind of speed is inappropriate on busier paths with newer riders and is an especially bad idea for those who lack judgment or handling skills.

I see no problem with a little boost to help elderly or those facing physical difficulties, but let’s be real. If they allow electric bikes, that’s not who’s going to show up.

rainbike
Guest
rainbike

All I ask is a bell ding or other audible signal before either of them overtake me and pass, closer than necessary.

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

I was just in Europe for 3 weeks and e-bikes were everywhere. They shared MUPs all over the place and I didn’t see any conflict. I saw all ages – but usually it was the 50+ crowd on the ebikes.

Regarding your ebike comment on naito/esplanade – I honestly wish they would rent them. That being said, they should also have signs up reminding people to share the path, peds stay to the right, act predictable, don’t stop in the middle of the path, try to separate the foot/bike traffic as much as possible, etc.

Have you seen any real world experiences with ebikes? Or is your opinion all conjecture? Honest curiosity to what your experiences have been – not trying to be a jerk.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I have had numerous encounters with e-bikes and see them with some regularity, most frequently on Marquam Hill and along Interstate, but I see them in other areas too. First an observation — e-bike speeds in Europe are limited to 25 kmh (15.5 mph) before power kicks out. This by itself changes what kind of rider they’ll appeal to.

I encounter several distinct kinds of e-bike users, most of whom I think use the technology well. I see a fair number of cargo and kid hauling bikes with electric assist. These bikes appear to be used as substitutes for cars, have experienced riders with rock solid road skills. On Marquam Hill, I occasionally see older riders on commuting rigs with panniers. These people clearly rode unpowered bikes for years and just want a little help on the hills. I have never seen any of these first two groups do anything that concerned me and would go so far to say as they tend to be noticeably better riders than average. There also appears to be a small number of people who commute longer distances that involve at least modest hills that use e-bikes who seem sensible enough.

I don’t think any of these people will bring their electric setup to these trails. One thing you’ll notice that all these riders have in common is that they’re using the assist to make something they’d want to do anyway a bit more practical.

The people I’m concerned about are younger people I’ve encountered on overpowered bikes that definitely go well over 20mph and are being used like motorcycles in the bike lane. These riders are considerably less common than the others, but recreational use of power for seems correlated with a different type of judgment.

The issue is not electricity per se, but speed. The reason I made the crack about Better Naito is that I think it needs to be treated like a MUP. I’m finding that cyclists and peds alike are much more likely to ignore signals whether they’re crossing or riding along Naito, many people are inattentive and don’t communicate intention. This is what you expect on MUPs, but that’s also precisely why I think that power and speed are bad things in environments like that.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Engineering could solve a lot of our path problems if PBOT would take off their carheads and think about bikes as vehicles operated by people, capable of 20+mph, and with somewhere to be (or do we only use a bike when we or our schedules and destinations are less important?) Electric or not, momentum (speed*mass) is dangerous.

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

This is what I would advocate. We currently rarely go less than 25mph in huge vehicles, we can operate a bicycle at 20mph safely.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

20mph is outrageously fast on a bike but also outrageously slow in a car. Weird world we live in.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

Is that pertinent to a discussion about MUPs in state parks that are being used almost exclusively for recreation?

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

Honestly, there just aren’t that many ebike riders in portland or the states – so I would say your experience is pretty limited. When I was riding an ebike over there, it was easy to carry 30kph – about 19mph, just fyi.

The people you are concerned about are the people who break the law? While that’s fine, I don’t think everyone should be punished for that.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Electric-assisted bicycles are not legally bicycles, but they are given the same status as bicycles under Oregon Revised Statute [ORS] 814.405.”

Sorting this out seems important.

“I see no problem with a little boost to help elderly or those facing physical difficulties, but let’s be real. If they allow electric bikes, that’s not who’s going to show up.”

I’m tempted to side with Monsieur Banerjee here, but curious to see how this conversation develops.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

“I see no problem with a little boost to help elderly or those facing physical difficulties, but let’s be real. If they allow electric bikes, that’s not who’s going to show up.” – Kyle Baneree

I don’t know about that. The overwhelming majority of the people I see on e-bikes are elderly and/or infirmed folks who wouldn’t be on a bike at all without the assist. (We have an e-bike retailer right on the main bike path down here in Eugene, so all their test rides go right past my house, also right on the main bike path, so I see a fair number of them.) I think it may have something to do with disposable income and free time that attracts an older crowd, but that’s pure speculation. What I observe is people behaving very considerately while operating e-bikes. They even seem to understand the (uncodified) kiddie right of way rule.

A good friend of mine, age 72, happens to use an e-bike as his main bike. He is obviously old, but he’s also missing an arm. Because he’s huge, he uses an illegally powerful motor so he can get up the hills. Sure, he’s a scofflaw, but he never rides in a way that endangers others or even makes anyone uncomfortable. It’s not the rig, it’s the rider, that determines the behavior.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I don’t doubt this describes most of the people who actually buy/use e-bikes nor that there’s an issue with these riders.

However, I don’t think these ratios will carry themselves to the parks and paths. More importantly, I worry simply allowing e-bikes will bring some very dangerous mоrons in.

Despite the amount of harshing I do on e-bikes, I not only recommend them for some people, but I’ve helped set some people up. But 100% of those cases were for people who had a legitimate need.

I don’t know if it would be practical to allow e-bikes ridden by those who qualify for disability permits and to have a brutal fine for riding an e-bike illegally (accompanied by some random enforcement).

J_R
Guest
J_R

I began sailing before there were Jet Skis, aka personal watercraft. I can tell you with certainty that on the water, the ability to go fast with little effort and no training causes otherwise reasonable people to do really, really stupid things that put themselves and others at risk. Not all of them, mind you, but a disproportionate share of people with a throttle that allows them do things effortlessly fail to recognize or appreciate their personal limitations or those of their conveyance.

I worry that power assisted bikes operated by novices on state park trails, where they think they are safe from cars, will be increasing the risk to other users.

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

Ok – but jet skis aren’t governed at a certain speed – ebikes are. Also, ~20mph isn’t super fast on a bike regardless of what the power source is.

J_R
Guest
J_R

20 mph is considered “super fast” in a boating “no wake” area such as the constricted channel leading to a lock or in a harbor. 20 mph is “super fast” on the Eastbank Esplanade or many sections the Springwater Corridor during weekends when the paths are shared by bicyclists and pedestrians.

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

I was speaking of bicycles regarding the governer.

Also, riding 20mph should be doable if they actually have the right signage and traffic patterns on eastside esplanade – just my opinion. I get it that it currently isn’t that way.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

You don’t even need to be curious. Inline and crank based systems can’t possibly know your gear ratios so all you need is big enough rings and small enough cogs. For hub based systems, you just tell it you have a much smaller wheel than you actually have. Easy peasy.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

In practical terms, the motor’s speed and power output are linearly related, so a 500W hub motor geared for faster than 20mph won’t climb steep hills well (or at all if you trip the heat overload.) My 250W hub in a 29in wheel will spin at 17mph. Faster than that, it just can’t contribute power because the motor won’t spin faster (it freewheels.) Slower than that, and the non-motive energy creates heat (50% speed = 8.5mph, 50% efficient, 50% heat.) The 250W is nominal, so that might be 200W pushing and 200W heating.

A 1000W hub motor is much heavier but has the same characteristics of rpm vs efficiency. A mid-drive allows you to shift this to a wider range, but is generally going to be limited to a 10sp cassette, so 42-11 cogs. This makes it feasible to get outside of the 20mph limit, but gearing for 30mph (without a fairing/sock) is impractical within 1000W if you want decent climbing performance on steep hills.

In any case, the power/weight ratio of a legal e-bike is about 1/10th that of an economy car. Doubling that might take you to 40mph on flat ground in jeans, but it gets windy over 20.

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

Does that mean everyone with a car removes it? I mean, there should be some enforcement of laws, etc. Sure you can mod things, but that doesn’t mean everyone does or that a big enough percentage of the population does.

This honestly just seems like fear mongering.

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

I misspoke about that – doesn’t change my point.

BrianC
Guest
BrianC

From personal experience…

My sons attend a local high school. One of their friends, at age 15, became the proud owner of a Walmart MTB with an after market electric motor assist. Top speed *without pedaling* was ~45 mph. (I think it’s faster now because it was “upgraded”.)

I asked him if he had to use the pedals… The answer was – “I only pedal when there are cops around”.

One of my sons asked for one. “Because it’s just a bicycle Dad!” My answer was, hell no! It’s a freaking motorcycle.

The law hasn’t caught up to technology yet. So be careful what you ask for – you just might get it.

I’m sure riding the old scenic highway at 45 to 50 would be a blast! What could possibly go wrong?

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

Sure – but I believe that isn’t an “ebike” – that is an electric motorcycle with pedals. “ebike’s” have to be governed.

Was in Amsterdam where they had scooters going real fast in the separated bike lane. While I am not advocating that, I also would love to see a reduction in cars and a huge increase mpg – it’s a tough balancing act.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

Sorry. Wrong. Over here in Bend, e-bikes are becoming ubiquitous. I am a strong cyclist and have been passed many times going uphill at 15 mph, by e-bikes, ridden by obvious non-athletes going 20-25mph. Yesterday was the capper; an ebike cargo bike passed me going at least 40 mph on a 2% downhill where 20 is coasting speed, and 33 a good clip for a racer, who is not sprinting. They are a menace. btw speed limit was 25 mph. I talked to one guy at a local shop, who jacked up his battery so his e-bike will go 40+ on the flats. He said cops did not bother him as long as he kept it below 30 in the bike lane (where everybody else is going 15).

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

How was I wrong?

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Sounds like you’re talking about use on public roads rather than recreational trails. If the speed limit is 25, you should expect to be passed by somebody on the way to the store even while busy training for sport. Long heavy bikes with wide tires roll downhill very well but you might need to check your radar gun or stopwatch. What method did you use to clock this 40mph bike and was it faster than most of the car traffic in that stretch?

Some people are reckless and should never be allowed more than a unicycle, but what really gets me bent out of shape is cars on sidewalks downtown.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I bet that Walmart MTB has really reliable brakes.

Beeblebrox
Guest
Beeblebrox

Thank you for reporting on this issue. This is a terrible legal oversight that needs to be changed. If I wanted to go ride the Columbia Gorge Trail with my aging parents, I could probably convince them to rent electric assist bikes to do it, but there’s no way they would use regular bikes. So this law is basically denying access based on physical limitations.

Peter Hass
Guest
Peter Hass

I think e-bikes are a real game changer. Not just for old, sore knee crowd but for the young and healthy too. I’ve seen websites that sell e-bikes capable of speeds of 28mph and greater…even over 40mph. My prediction is that it won’t be long until we routinely see several of these motorized bikes blasting along bike lanes and multi-use paths at speeds greater than 20mph. Heck, I’m already seeing a lot more of them. Human powered bike riders who have the financial means may decide to buy one these stealthy steeds just to keep up! And “No motorized vehicles” and/or “20mph speed limit” signs won’t slow the flow because, like with cars, there will be little to none enforcement.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Jonathan – add the Interstate Bridge/ Delta Park Bikeway to your list

Jason H
Guest
Jason H

Closer to home this affects the paved trail in Tryon Creek and the MUP and trails at Banks-Vernonia and Stubb Stewart SP.

John Liu
Subscriber

Throttles open the door to more problems than human power. We know that from the roads.

Maybe the parks could test access to e-bikes through a pilot program. Pick a couple of varied trails, allow e-bikes for a couple of years, see what happens.

There is no reason why decisions like this have to be made in one big statewide move without the benefit of testing and experience.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

The trouble with your suggestion is that Parks do not have the resources to do an accurate study and 90% of dangerous incidents will not be reported. Your idea is what is known in government as ‘kicking the can down the road’. Someone has to man up and make some rules (laws).

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

There are rules now: e-bikes are prohibited.

Norah Macey
Guest
Norah Macey

If e-bikes stay under 10 mph (the posted speed limit) then what does it matter?

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I’m not familiar with some of these paths, but if such a speed limit is posted and the level of compliance is reasonable, I don’t think it does matter.

Although I have seen e-bike behavior that concerns me, none of it was on the Waterfront, the Esplanade, the Willamette Greenway, or Better Naito. But then again, I don’t see e-bikes in these places either.

This suggests that some testing along the lines that John proposed would probably be a good idea.

The eBike Store
Guest

This is flat wrong! eBikes are legally bicycles.

2015 ORS 814.405¹
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]

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Read the story.

“the ORS Vehicle Code deals with highways and roadways and since paved paths meant for non-motorized uses within State Parks are neither, those laws don’t apply.”

The eBike Store
Guest

under David Spangler’s interpretation, electric wheelchairs are not allowed on paved paths either then.

Jeff S
Guest
Jeff S

I don’t think e-bikes are going to go away even though I personally think life was just fine without them. I find there use is mainly for the elderly, the physically challenged or people who just want it to be easy. Limiting the speed to 15 mph for all both e and pedal bikes on these public trails would be a good thing. You are always goin to get a few who won’t adhere to the rules but I tend to think it’s more often than not the Strava ahole not the ebiker that’s blowing by you.

Big Knobbies
Guest
Big Knobbies

This type of bureaucratic over-reach is exactly why Trump was elected. People are just getting fed up with it. In the case of the federal government, which he’s over, we’d be talking hundreds of thousands of rules and regulations that are over the top.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

Simply absurd.

Drew
Guest
Drew

I was passed by a jerk on a modified electric longtail on the springwater. It was going at least 30mph. Just blew by me/buzzed me without bell or any notice. Scary. It changed my opinion of electric bikes.

mpeasee
Guest
mpeasee

Jerks come in all sorts of flavors. The same has happened to me on N. Williams. We all be be angels and assholes.

mpeasee
Guest
mpeasee

Typo: We all “can” be angels and assholes.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

And I’ve been buzzed by roadies riding 2-abreast at 25+ mph on the Springwater. That doesn’t mean that all roadies are jerks, just some of them.

K Taylor
Guest
K Taylor

Well, but that’s the issue. It’s still early days, and that one jerk is destined to become many, many jerks the more people start riding with motors.

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

No, it’s kind of not the issue. People are people regardless of the kind of transportation they are using. There will always be jerks. There will always be courteous people.

KTaylor
Guest
KTaylor

Sure – but it’s more likely your jerkiness will have negative impacts on others if you’re traveling at high speeds. Right now, you have to be in really good shape to do that on a bike. Relatively few people are, so the number of a-hole interactions is relatlvely limited.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I got right-hooked by a Prius driver once… it totally changed my opinion of hybrids.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Were they on the bike path?

Pete
Guest
Pete

No, that was a different time.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/bike/30271091306

mpeasee
Guest
mpeasee

What seems to be missing from the dialogue is sustainability of battery life when using an ebike. Yes- you can go 35 or 40 with an illegal hacked ebike, but its not sustainable to do so on a ride that is 7-15 miles; any longer your SOL on your return unless its downhill. You’ll learn your lesson the hard way (depending on your rig setup)…ebikes can be heavy when spent of power (tourist riders in the gorge). Throttling uses lots of power too, it will not sustain for long without pedal assist…you have to pedal. Folks should be able to roll as long as gas and combustion is not allowed. Its good that the law is vague- it too can evolve, hopefully towards the future and more freedoms for all bikes.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Technology advances quickly.

mpeasee
Guest
mpeasee

Technology should and always has advanced quickly- always faster than the law. The “law” is codified ethics of a society, it takes time to adapt. “Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.” “Thomas Jefferson 1816
Oregon’s e-bikes, bikes, paths, roads, trails and lanes will change too. Moore’s law .25 instead of 2.0.

Skip
Guest
Skip

As a long-time bike commuter (25 years), and more recent ebike commuter (2 years), I am disheartened by the anectodal “I had a bad experience with an ebike rider who was being a jerk – so now I’m against ebikes” arguments peppered through these comments.

This is the same erroneous logic used by car drivers to bad-mouth bikes in general over the years (“I saw a bike rider break laws and ride like an idiot – so now I’m against bicyclists.”)

There will, of course, be inappropriate jerks or incompetent riders no matter what they are riding.

I was cut off by a group of obviously inexperienced teenagers on Biketown bikes causing me to crash to the ground as they rode away a few weeks ago. Am I justified in painting EVERY Biketown rider as incompetant, uncaring jerks?

Of course not.

As with everything, there are going to be exceptions that shade opinions about a particular group and give justification for any point of view.

Let’s hope that bikes and ebikes can share the road/trail/path moving forward.

It would be a real shame for folks to draw lines in our already small community.

Beeblebrox
Guest
Beeblebrox

Exactly. The vast majority of e-bikes don’t get complaints because they’re riding appropriately so that you don’t even know it’s an e-bike! So to extrapolate anything significant from the occasional bad rider is exactly the same as drivers seeing a cyclist running a red light and thinking everyone on a bike is crazy.

SAM jonas
Guest
SAM jonas

Kyle Banerjee
I don’t doubt this describes most of the people who actually buy/use e-bikes nor that there’s an issue with these riders.
However, I don’t think these ratios will carry themselves to the parks and paths. More importantly, I worry simply allowing e-bikes will bring some very dangerous mоrons in.
Despite the amount of harshing I do on e-bikes, I not only recommend them for some people, but I’ve helped set some people up. But 100% of those cases were for people who had a legitimate need.
I don’t know if it would be practical to allow e-bikes ridden by those who qualify for disability permits and to have a brutal fine for riding an e-bike illegally (accompanied by some random enforcement).
Recommended 1

100 years ago people believed women shouldn’t be riding bikes either. Now we know how silly it is to limit ones freedom on what kind of bike we choose to ride.

Thus, e-bikes are available to everyone and anyone who decides to own one. Young or old.

SAM jonas
Guest
SAM jonas

Drew
I was passed by a jerk on a modified electric longtail on the springwater. It was going at least 30mph. Just blew by me/buzzed me without bell or any notice. Scary. It changed my opinion of electric bikes.
Recommended 2

Really? so if a black person or woman blows by you, should you negatively change your mind as well? Why are we even judging others?

K Taylor
Guest
K Taylor

Last time I checked, being black or female doesn’t endanger other people’s safety, so I’m going to step out on a ledge and say no.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Hah! Thanks, K Taylor. 🙂 What’s judgy about calling out a jerk? And, given my experience of people in Portland, I think extrapolating from such incidents that more of the same will happen is not out of line. We seem to have now an annoyingly headstrong population, which doesn’t bode well for this idea of sharing a path w/ e-bikers.

K Taylor
Guest
K Taylor

Thanks, rachel b! Yes – that’s exactly what I was thinking. 🙁

Phil Richman
Subscriber

If every SOV driver traded for an e-bike the world would be a better place.

Skip
Guest
Skip

Exactly what I did — and my ebike allows me to haul in from West Linn. Without it, I would be another SOV driver myself.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I rode with a guy on an Extracycle(?) on Monday. It’s a long bike that looks like it could haul just about anything (and he was hauling before I caught up with him at a light). He mentioned he rides it into work on Monday and brings his laptop and a week worth of business clothes, then on Friday he rides it in again and brings the load back home. On Tuesday through Thursday he rides his ‘normal’ bike unfettered, allowing him to take detours to his fancy on the rides home.

I used to use a similar technique myself, driving in on Monday morning and back on Friday night, as I generally didn’t use my car during the week anyway. Then the security people bitched to our facilities guy and I had to go back to loaded backpacks daily.

K Taylor
Guest
K Taylor

Yes – I’d be all for this, if the space dedicated to cars was reallocated to e-bikes. People traveling by motor completely transforms the character of a space – not in a good way. I recently read a report on best practices for access management that cited a study showing that the faster people go, the less attentive they are to their surroundings and the longer their reaction times are. I sympathize with people who see horizons opening up for them based on the freedom e-bikes give them, but I think allowing these vehicles to use bike facilities is opening a Pandora’s box.

SAM jonas
Guest
SAM jonas

Alex
I was just in Europe for 3 weeks and e-bikes were everywhere. They shared MUPs all over the place and I didn’t see any conflict. I saw all ages – but usually it was the 50+ crowd on the ebikes.
Regarding your ebike comment on naito/esplanade – I honestly wish they would rent them. That being said, they should also have signs up reminding people to share the path, peds stay to the right, act predictable, don’t stop in the middle of the path, try to separate the foot/bike traffic as much as possible, etc.
Have you seen any real world experiences with ebikes? Or is your opinion all conjecture? Honest curiosity to what your experiences have been – not trying to be a jerk.
Recommended 10

Aa Kyle was callled out in other articles about e-bikes: he has never ridden one himself. I was wondering that myself: what alternate reality does Kyle live in?

SAM jonas
Guest
SAM jonas

Skip
As a long-time bike commuter (25 years), and more recent ebike commuter (2 years), I am disheartened by the anectodal “I had a bad experience with an ebike rider who was being a jerk – so now I’m against ebikes” arguments peppered through these comments.
This is the same erroneous logic used by car drivers to bad-mouth bikes in general over the years (“I saw a bike rider break laws and ride like an idiot – so now I’m against bicyclists.”)
There will, of course, be inappropriate jerks or incompetent riders no matter what they are riding.
I was cut off by a group of obviously inexperienced teenagers on Biketown bikes causing me to crash to the ground as they rode away a few weeks ago. Am I justified in painting EVERY Biketown rider as incompetant, uncaring jerks?
Of course not.
As with everything, there are going to be exceptions that shade opinions about a particular group and give justification for any point of view.
Let’s hope that bikes and ebikes can share the road/trail/path moving forward.
It would be a real shame for folks to draw lines in our already small community.
Recommended 3

Whats also disheartening? lots of people who aren’t speaking up to opinions like you describe. Is this bigotry? Intolerance?

I’m ashamed that people of our dear cycling community think this way.

Roland Klasen
Guest
Roland Klasen

I recently purchased a 28mph ebike and it enables me to commute from North Portland to Tigard every day with ease.

Drew
Guest
Drew

John L wrote: By god, let’s punish everyone that rides an ebike because of that one jerk you met in passing (literally) once.

I got buzzed by some serious kinetic energy at a high rate of speed on a narrow MUP. It was the scariest episode so far, and like I wrote, my opinion about electric bikes has changed. Yes I have been buzzed by racers on MUPs, but this is much different. Fyi my bicycling experience spans 45 years, many thousands of miles a year. Electric bikes are coming and that is mostly a good thing, but there is a dark side to this as well.

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

Extremely good question.

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

How are ebikes in state parks going to be enforced? I’ve never seen a police officer and rarely do I see park rangers on trails.

John Liu
Subscriber

Same reason you don’t see folks riding motorcycles on park MUPs, hardly ever anyway. People tend to obey rules, more or less, most people anyway.

Paul Z
Guest
Paul Z

I just rode the Mosier Twin Tunnels trail yesterday end to end (non e-bike). Having seen your article about the e-bike rental shop in Mosier I specifically asked at the Hood River trailhead office, and was told by the volunteer behind the counter that e-bikes “are” allowed there. My wife has run a RideKick trailer there without any problems (she’d be “walking” the grades otherwise!). However, I didn’t see any e-bikes on the trail.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I ride that trail frequently, and I can’t even recall seeing an e-bike there. For the roadie community out there, the trail is a vital link to the eastern roads in The Dalles or up into Mosier’s hills. Because of that, you will regularly see roadies descend those hills at 30+ MPH, and many of us intentionally ride at off-hours when we know pedestrian use is low (summer weekends are hell… I once came downhill into an entire busload of Japanese tourists, and really wish I’d known how to say “on your left!” in Japanese; turns out they were from Hood River’s sister city of Tsuruta).

I think it really comes down to responsible road or trail use. While I (and others) have regularly hit nearly 40 MPH on some straight downhill sections of that trail, most who use it know where we can speed and where we shouldn’t (and that goes for longboarders too… plus there is a risk of hitting snakes, squirrels, deer, coyotes, and turkey there). Allowing e-bikes on that trail would open up its beauty to a whole new class of people who may be otherwise physically challenged by its terrain, and it’s unlikely a motor would create a new class of danger to other trail users beyond the existing risk imposed by an average roadie irresponsibly descending its long, steep, sometimes curvy grades.

The hosts and rangers who manage that trail know the score. They are cordial but are also willing to stop people and ask them to tone down their speeds or behaviors (yes, they do patrol that trail, despite perceptions otherwise). I am not surprised someone told you electric assist is allowed there; it’s a category that quite frankly isn’t pervasively understood or well-defined yet.

Maybe we should license e-bikes and have them put license plates on so people can report “scofflaws”? 😉

Goretex Guy
Guest
Goretex Guy

Since when have cyclists been concerned about following all the laws? If we can justify blowing red lights, etc, surely we can rationalize riding ebikes anywhere.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Is there no way to post “BICYCLES SPEED 10 WHEN PEDESTRIANS ARE PRESENT” signs?

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

One could hope the behavior was common sense, but alas.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

So, regular bike riders can be reckless. And e-bikes increase the chances that much more for reckless behaviors/accidents–esp. because of the newbie factor. So, the answer is… to allow e-bikes on non-motorized vehicle pathways? Because anyone can be a careless jerk, and so we should be equally fair to all careless jerks?

It would seem we have it within our power to minimize the possibility of accidents by regulating path usage more strictly and without having to rely on our faith in humanity to do the right thing. I don’t know about you, but my faith in humanity is near nil at the moment–esp. in this city, right now.

Norah Macey
Guest
Norah Macey

I’m a 66 yr old grandmother, and a very experienced cyclist, have led groups around Victoria for many years. If I want to cycle on Oregon State park paths at around 8 mph, just enjoying the scenery and the air, why does it matter whether its an e-bike or a bike? I recently did the bike path in Astoria, gorgeous views of Columbia River, on my e-bike. I went slowly, and stopped to let pedestrians pass. I’m not dangerous, or a “jerk”, just purring along very slowly. My view is that there should be a speed limit, and it should be enforced. Please don’t discriminate against someone on an e-bike, we’re not all newbies, or dangerous, or jerks. Some of us are just grandmothers.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Hi Norah–I hear what you’re saying, and I wish that I could agree. But the problem is that it’s idealistic (which I applaud in theory, but not in the reality of Portland of now when I wish the city would grapple with that reality more seriously).

Communism is great as an ideal, too. The problem I have is—as with so many things in Portland now—that there is no enforcement, there is no promise of future enforcement, there is no plan at all for dealing with the inevitability that people will abuse the privileges we all share. And when that happens—when people get wind that there will be no enforcement—scofflaw behavior will abound. Look at what’s happening right now with rampant graffiti, littering, break-ins, thefts of cars and bikes, speeding, reckless driving. Portland never used to have a significant problem with these issues because they were contained, laws and rules were enforced—that kind of behavior was not allowed to persist. Now, it’s a free-for-all and we might as well have put up a sign saying “Come Break the Law Here, With Impunity.” Not enough cops, not enough enforcement, and no apparent political will.

Everything in this city seems to turn to shite anymore. I’m tired of having no nice things, of seeing all the nice things we had turn to crap. Feeling relatively sure that no one will mow me over on a motorized vehicle while I’m on a biking/walking path is one of the very few things I have left to be happy about in this effing city.

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

It sounds like you’ve had some bad experiences in the recent past, and I think it’s understandable to be angry with those who have wronged you – it can lead to some quite biased opinions about groups of people. In reality, crime rates have looked pretty stable during the past two years: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/71978
If you are arguing that the numbers are inaccurate because many more crimes are committed than prosecuted, I invite you to provide some evidence that backs the conclusion. Keep in mind also that it is the absolute number of crimes committed, not a percentage in proportion to the growing population of the city.

Typically, law and order approaches to behavior modification result in more discretionary exhibition of the undesirable behavior, not the elimination of it. Keep in mind that we live in a society which relies on systemic poverty to support the great riches of a handful of individuals; many of the impoverished do what they need to survive, and some of them literally have to fight for their lives every day. I genuinely hope you can appreciate not having drawn the straw of becoming one of them yourself, and find it in your heart to ask not what it is you can do to keep them away from you, but what can you do treat them like other human beings?

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

resopmok-–this is not a problem of perspective, my (according to you) ‘erroneous’ perspective. A whole slew of us in Portland are having bad experiences. My voice on this is not an isolated one–look around you. Look at your neighborhood site. There’s been a huge upswing recently in neighborhood crime–home break-ins, car break-ins, business break-ins, window breakage and robberies, very recently, with guns, while customers are present. More and more stolen bikes, more and more street litter, more and more graffiti, more and more camps and parked RVs and threatening behaviors and etc. etc. etc.
Much of the crime in my neighborhood is now going unreported, due to the fact the police will do NOTHING and neighbors are at wits’ end. EVERYTHING is, apparently, a crime too small, now. It’s a real problem as word has gotten out to every lowlife out there and they’re all coming here to have a great time wreaking havoc, with impunity. You can understand, then, why reported crime numbers may be skewed.
I don’t know why you felt you needed to post what you did, or felt the need to instruct me. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said a thousand times in hundreds of forums in our city lately. I’m not alone in these observations. It’s not about me or any of us not being kind enough or compassionate enough, or not understanding what’s happening in our city–the city I’ve lived in my entire life, for what that’s worth.
p.s…why on earth would you presume to know me or what straw I drew? I grew up below poverty level, drew the straw of sexual abuse as a kid, grew up with drug addicts, embezzlers (for the drug habit) and alcoholics (yes, I’m familiar with how to treat them), worked my whole life long, paid for my own schooling, and is that enough to allow me my opinion in this matter?

VRU
Guest
VRU

always great to see a portland native who lifted themselves up by their bootstraps.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

????

WJI
Guest
WJI

Next they will make it illegal for me to ride my old Vespa on these paths. WTF.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

So what. Don’t be a jerk, ride the paths and live/let live. It’s gonna take some jerk cop ticketing before it’s changed. The whole segment is small. Enjoy life

Kelly
Guest
Kelly

Wait…so now cops are jerks for doing their jobs?

Mike Christy
Guest
Mike Christy

2015 ORS 814.405¹
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]

KBT
Guest
KBT

I ride one of those longtail cargo bikes with a high powered motor referred to previously in this discussion (raises hand). I live in an area surrounded by steep hills and this has enabled me to replace thousands of car trips to transport kid to school and back, to and from sports, to and from shopping, etc etc. I’ll confess, I own three cars and also three motorcycles and barely use them except for out of town trips or hauling heavy building materials occasionally, I prefer to ride my electric bikes.

I am a very experienced cyclist, worked in a bike shop, know how to ride safely and share the paths with other riders and try to do so. I hate getting lumped in with a few idiots who utilize ebikes and ride irresponsibly. Electric bicycles have an amazing potential to eliminate a whole lot of ICV traffic, IMO their useage should be encouraged. Education on their safe responsible usage is going to be part of that-they’re coming like it or not (look at Europe), especially when gas prices spike again (and they will, matter of time). Needs to be ebike education in high school, just like Driver’s Ed for ICV’s.

Phil Richman
Subscriber

Ditto, my circumstances too. Long-tail e-assisted cargo bike. Steep hills in surrounding areas, bad infrastructure to boot (daily work commute on Barbur Blvd). You made me look up ICV (aka SOV). Thousands of trips that my own family and neighbors choose to drive for.

Nuala
Guest
Nuala

Lots of great comments- especially in regards to understanding that e-bikes allow disabled folks access. Just another note, the majority of physical disabilities are not visible. That means that often people need assist, but you might not be able to tell by looking at them. Having said that, do not assume that disabled folks have lower navigating skills than non-ebike riders. Any speed limit should be for all riders and not arbitrarily put on accommodation devices. Cheers.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Re: The USDA arbitrary stance that “E-bikes are not considered an assistive devise.
This stance discriminates against those with disabilities.
There are good citizens, including veterans who have had to electrify their bikes, for assisted peddling. Veterans have obvious reasons for their disabilities. Others have life changing injuries or congenital issues. A lot of us are just getting older: hip, knee, neck and back problems. Chronic disabilities. Everyone will get to that place where they need some assistance because of this disability. Healthy and fit people who ride daily or weekly through the forest sometimes need assisted peddling. There are good days and bad days. Who knows what kind of day it will be until after riding through the forest when it becomes a bad day? Also an issue, E-biker’s are confronted and threatened up in the middle of now-where about your e-bike. The USDA’s stance has motivated cycle vigilantes.
These e-bikes are considered the same as bikes under Oregon State Law 814.405 and 801.258 (https://bikeportland.org/2010/08/26/e-bikes-the-law-and-you-38493). Furthermore, Oregon State Parks do not take USDA’s stance on E-bikes, they are permitted in all Oregon State Parks, without incident. Why has the USDA taken the arbitrary stance that “e-bikes are not considered an assistive devise”? https://bendtrails.org/wp-content/uploads/e-bikes-reminder.pdf?
E-bikes are built to assist the rider. That’s why they are advertised as “assisted pedaling”. And for people like us, e-bikes are the only way to enjoy our forest….safely. According to the USDA’s nondiscrimination statement, this stance may be in violation. E-biker’s should not be discriminated against for their inability to safety pedal, e.g., up hills or for extended endurance. These are healthy people who for many reasons have become slightly less able than non-disabled riders who just want to make it back home safely. 50, 60, 70+ year olds who have been riding trails for many decades should not be restricted from their pursuit of enjoying our national forest. We need to encourage people to lead an active and healthy life style. Keeping people healthy can save taxpayers millions of dollars each year. E-bikes allow many disabled and the elderly the ability to enjoy the forest the same as anyone. We need to slightly tweak USDA’s decision. I suggest the USDA waive e-bikes for individuals with a disability, which would include people with arthritis, joint trauma or any issues that may at times impair their ability to pedal a bike up hill or for long durations at a time. A letter from a medical doctor, certifying the person’s disability or condition would be mandatory for a reasonable accommodation permit to be issued from the USDA. All e-bikes must follow the rules of the road, http://bikeleague.org/content/rules-road-0
and be restricted to a maximum of 20 per hour while in assist mode on all trails.

Everett
Guest
Everett

I am 62 years old i have arthritis in my feet and asthma. I can’t walk all of the trails or ride a conventional bike up the hills, An e bike allows me the freedom to see these places, I see a ban on them in public parks that i have had to pay for as discrimination against handicap and elderly persons. If we cant use the state parks why should we have to pay tax dollars for them? We are not out there to tear up the country side, just to enjoy a little time out outdoors and have a little freedom. Just because some younger individuals may abuse the privilege we will ban everyone. That will solve the problem without having to put forth any effort. Typical governmental effort or is it just another revenue source to write tickets to old and handicap individuals for using the state park system we have had to help pay for. (47 years of taxes for me) how about a rebate? Thank’s a lot.

Feel free to re post my opinion

Larry C
Guest
Larry C

OK, couldn’t read all of these comments but got the gist of it. I am a pretty fit 69 year old whose been a recreational rider all my life. Had a MTB built in 1980 before they were massed produced. My wife and I are e bike riders. We just got to where the hills were just too difficult for us, but we don’t consider ourselves “seniors” or disabled. We love our ebikes. These bikes allow us to get a great workout and travel enough distance to make that workout enjoyable. It still takes considerable energy to climb a hill on an e bike. This controversy actually caught us off guard for 2 reasons. Federal law considers our bikes “non motorized” because they are under 500w and limited to 20mph. OR law is a little more liberal. My wife’s bike has a throttle, class 2, and mine does not, have to pedal, and it is a class 1, but both fit the federal and OR standard. Something I have not seen mentioned is that although we can “turn off” our electric assist, our bikes weigh around 50 lbs, so we must use some of our assist power to overcome this weight disadvantage. We have not had any incidents while riding our bikes. These bikes are also expensive. I see no reason that we should be excluded from enjoying state park and other public use paths in our state. As mentioned, this has become common in the rest of the world. As for “inexperienced riders”, first, everyone was inexperienced at one time, and also, these bikes are just as “unforgiving” as any non powered bike, so lack of attention or skill will definitely get the attention of anyone in that class. As for reckless/irresponsible law breaking hooligans, that is an enforcement issue, not a reason to exclude ordinary law abiding citizens from public facilities. I hope reason prevails and OR can allow all citizens to enjoy our public parks and lands.

david c
Guest
david c

I have an ebike. And yes 20 mph is the top speed. But it is not like a motor cycle. It takes a while to get there and doesn’t take much incline to slow you down. So for those people that say 20 is too high, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Not only that but it taxes the battery to try and run full out 20 mph. Battery will go dead very quickly so you will have to rely on pedal power after that. When I do ride there are plenty of people that pass me by on regular bikes.

I am 64 and ride for pleasure. I would love to ride the CZ trail out where I live in Columbia county. I have never hit a pedestrian or another cyclist yet. And people that think that all the people that get ebikes are new to riding bicycles are just presumptuous. What a dumb thing to say. It’s people that don’t want to have to work too hard to be mobile. Lazy, maybe weak but I don’t think people that buy ebikes don’t know how to ride a bike.

Tony
Guest
Tony

I have two eBikes. eBikess should be allowed anywhere a regular ebike is allowed. An eBike is just a regular bike plus an electric motor. I don’t understand what the concern is about them. The top speed of the bike with the motor engaged is 20miles/hr. That’s controlled by the computer to abide by the law. After that the motor disconnects and the biker has to rely soley on leg musles. An eBike is a lot heavier than a regular bike because of the weight of the battery and the motor, so good luck for an eBike rider going faster than 20 miles/hr on such a heavy bike relying on leg muscles only. If the concern is the bike’s speed, then we should be concerned with all those riders on racing bikes going 30+miles/hr which an eBike can’t do because of the bike’s weight. Think about it more carefully if you’re against eBikes. If you’re a cyclist and you get health or physical issues which make you too weak to ride a regular bike, you will be thankful that you can ride an eBike. Don’t be selfish.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“An eBike is just a regular bike plus an electric motor. I don’t understand what the concern is about them.”

Early motorcycles were (also) just regular bicycles plus a gas motor. What is the concern? The interest?

Tony
Guest
Tony

9watts
“An eBike is just a regular bike plus an electric motor. I don’t understand what the concern is about them.”Early motorcycles were (also) just regular bicycles plus a gas motor. What is the concern? The interest?Recommended 0

They were polluting, big and very noisy. Pretty good reasons to keep them out then and now, don’t you think?

9watts
Guest
9watts

I don’t think any of those were true initially.
And definitions of what is offensive, polluting, dangerous changes all the time. We have had and I predict will continue to debate whether electric propulsion is or is not polluting.

My stance is that as fun/profitable/sexy as it is to use electricity for tasks once accomplished by muscles and the metabolism of sunlight, the world we are fast approaching has run out of atmosphere to accommodate this preference. I’d love to be wrong; enjoy using electricity for a variety of tasks as much as the next person. I just refuse to claim any climate virtues for electricity.

Tony
Guest
Tony

9watts
I don’t think any of those were true initially. And definitions of what is offensive, polluting, dangerous changes all the time. We have had and I predict will continue to debate whether electric propulsion is or is not polluting.My stance is that as fun/profitable/sexy as it is to use electricity for tasks once accomplished by muscles and the metabolism of sunlight, the world we are fast approaching has run out of atmosphere to accommodate this preference. I’d love to be wrong; enjoy using electricity for a variety of tasks as much as the next person. I just refuse to claim any climate virtues for electricity.Recommended 0

I am sure you don’t want to be biking behind a 2 stroke gas engine bicycle. There’s no way this can be compared to an electric bike in terms of how one negatively affects a nearby riders. I am not sure about your understanding what an eBike is. It’s pedal assisted biking using a regular bike. I have the choice to bike with zero assistance or different levels of assistance. I don’t it’s any one’s business how I pedal.
Everyone is charging all kinds of electric devices and appliances at home. An electric bike is just another device. The people who are against electric cars and bikes and the use of electricity should stop using electricity and electric devices altogether, otherwise I find them hypocrites. I would rather live in a city full of electric cars than gas powered cars. Electricity is a renewable type of energy.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I am not “against E-bikes”; I’m against defensive boosterism of them, that fails to take account of the larger context, that dismisses specific criticisms out of hand rather than engaging in the debate.

Electricity isn’t any kind of energy, renewable or otherwise; it is the result of the transformation of any of a great number of fuels into electrical energy which has tremendously varied applications.

Also privileging the person who happens to be riding behind the bike/e-bike/petrol-bike is hardly the only or the most useful metric of impact. A coal-powered e-bike is also very nice to ride on or behind, but that is hardly the whole story.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“The people who are against electric cars and bikes and the use of electricity should stop using electricity and electric devices altogether, otherwise I find them hypocrites.”

You aren’t reading my posts very closely. I recognize the risks, uncertainties, consequences of all electrical end uses. But in this particular context we are discussing a fairly ‘new’ electrical end use. Expanding our reliance on electricity into the transportation field is no small potatoes. How or whether we make this move is hugely consequential for our climate. Let’s face it: right now we are unable to generate but a small fraction of our electrical demand from renewable sources. To blithely endorse a massive expansion of our electrical demand without acknowledging the likely (inevitable?) repercussions for the fuel mix in the electrical sector is simply inadequate, myopic.

Tony
Guest
Tony

9watts
“The people who are against electric cars and bikes and the use of electricity should stop using electricity and electric devices altogether, otherwise I find them hypocrites.”You aren’t reading my posts very closely. I recognize the risks, uncertainties, consequences of all electrical end uses. But in this particular context we are discussing a fairly ‘new’ electrical end use. Expanding our reliance on electricity into the transportation field is no small potatoes. How or whether we make this move is hugely consequential for our climate. Let’s face it: right now we are unable to generate but a small fraction of our electrical demand from renewable sources. To blithely endorse a massive expansion of our electrical demand without acknowledging the likely (inevitable?) repercussions for the fuel mix in the electrical sector is simply inadequate, myopic.Recommended 0

I am OK with any debates about eBikes. Some people said they are too fast and I said they are not. They are too heavy to go faster than 20 miles/hr when the biker has to pedal only. The regular bikes are faster, especially when they are going downhill. Anything that happens from any eBike towards others is due to the biker, not the bike itself. Bikers should be riding safely and courteously, whether they are on an eBike or regular bike. I want to enjoy the trails like any other biker.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

It cracks me up the number of hard core cyclists that are against e bikes. It really just makes you come off as a purist snob. Kind of the Lycra patrol that believes true riders onlybwear clicky shoes and ride bikes that cost more than a a small car. It really does. Look in the mirror. You are being an exclusionist.
The goal here is to decrease four wheeled travel where and when possible and move to a two wheeled or two legged move where and when possible. Even buses are downright terrible for people walking or riding.

If our only problem was charging electric bikes, compared to the ongoing world war we have to keep cheap oil flowing….would that be so bad?

9 watts, please put things in perspective before trying to take away something from your team mate. I want a world filled with polite ebikers.

9watts
Subscriber

I don’t think I am either a hard core cyclist or against e-bikes. As I said above, I’m against reflexive celebrations of electrical solutions to problems, and for reasons I already enumerated.

“If our only problem was charging electric bikes, compared to the ongoing world war we have to keep cheap oil flowing….would that be so bad?”

Thanks for that question. Put that way, of course I and probably most everyone would agree with you. But is that the whole story? A fair way to frame the choices? Oil-burning bikes don’t really exist, and the e bike isn’t really poised to displace automobility, is it?

Because the logical extension of your framing is a fully electrified transportation system, which some of my friends are trying to make happen. If we did follow your comparison to its logical conclusion, I don’t think either of us would be happy with the outcome, as far as environmental implications are concerned. Scale, technology, fuels, demand, are all important here. In what Herman Daly called our Full World, there are no end runs (except for the human powered bike, of course).

9watts
Subscriber

“The goal here is to decrease four wheeled travel where and when possible …”

I don’t know. Maybe that is THE goal, and maybe it isn’t.
If it were the goal, I’m not sure e-bikes are in fact serving that goal well, though I’m always curious to see data that helps us understand this better.
One reason that I’m suspicious of this claim is that it is exactly the same claim made by Energy Efficiency’s boosters. And after forty years of doing this, putting all our eggs in that basket, we burn more fossil fuels than ever. The preferred solution, that sounds so good, turns out not to be a solution after all, just a way to justify buying more goodies.
Show me the data.

Tony
Guest
Tony

9watts
“The people who are against electric cars and bikes and the use of electricity should stop using electricity and electric devices altogether, otherwise I find them hypocrites.”You aren’t reading my posts very closely. I recognize the risks, uncertainties, consequences of all electrical end uses. But in this particular context we are discussing a fairly ‘new’ electrical end use. Expanding our reliance on electricity into the transportation field is no small potatoes. How or whether we make this move is hugely consequential for our climate. Let’s face it: right now we are unable to generate but a small fraction of our electrical demand from renewable sources. To blithely endorse a massive expansion of our electrical demand without acknowledging the likely (inevitable?) repercussions for the fuel mix in the electrical sector is simply inadequate, myopic.Recommended 0

I know where you’re going with this. Very few people use eBikes in Portland. The extra use of eBikes has no effect on the power grid. Why is this even a concern when a ton more people are charging their laptops, computers running when not in use and using AC all day long just to feel a little cooler. We’re talking about eBikes that get charged with a miniscule amount of electricity. I think you’re blowing their effect very much out of proportion.

I would like to keep this discussion in focus. The objections of their use in public trails.

9watts
Subscriber

“I know where you’re going with this.”

Great. For a while I wasn’t sure.

“The extra use of eBikes has no effect on the power grid.”

While it may be true today that ebikes are a vanishingly small slice of the pie, you have no idea if that will still be true tomorrow. And I think it reasonable to be less sanguine than you seem to be given adoption rates around the world. Once upon a time people were as dismissive of the grid implications of consumer electronics as you are about ebikes. Standby power (phantom loads) which is just one dimension of the consumer electronic grid load by some measures now represent a nontrivial amount of electricity when tallied up for the whole US.

“An individual product draws relatively little standby power but a typical American home has forty products constantly drawing power. Together these amount to almost 10% of residential electricity use.”
from here: http://standby.lbl.gov/