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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)).

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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

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134 Comments
  • Eric Leifsdad July 6, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    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

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  • Eric Leifsdad July 6, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    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.

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    • B. Carfree July 6, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      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.

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      • Todd Boulanger July 6, 2017 at 4:39 pm

        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…]

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      • Alex July 7, 2017 at 9:12 am

        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.

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    • Adam
      Adam July 10, 2017 at 9:54 am

      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.

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  • Michael Williams July 6, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    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…

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    • TonyT
      TonyT July 6, 2017 at 2:13 pm

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

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      • nc July 6, 2017 at 3:37 pm

        No citation needed, this isn’t wikipedia.

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        • John Lascurettes July 6, 2017 at 4:05 pm

          Pretty sure that was snark for “that’s your opinion”

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      • Spiffy July 7, 2017 at 11:28 am

        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…

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    • Kyle Banerjee July 6, 2017 at 2:36 pm

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

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    • Alex July 6, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      “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.

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      • Kyle Banerjee July 6, 2017 at 4:02 pm

        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.

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        • El Biciclero July 9, 2017 at 10:13 pm

          “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.

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        • Dan A July 12, 2017 at 11:28 am

          “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.

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          • El Biciclero July 12, 2017 at 11:41 am

            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.

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            • Dan A July 12, 2017 at 12:49 pm

              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.

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      • John Lascurettes July 6, 2017 at 4:08 pm

        30 isn’t that hard to do on a road bike. My commute to work (without any assist tops 30 routinely on a downhill) and my mosty-uphill commute home often tops 20 even on my heavy commuter.

        The concern might be over those different classes of eBikes, they don’t all limit themselves to 20. And every engineer I know figures out how to deregulate the limiter to allow speeds higher than 20mph.

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      • mran1984 July 8, 2017 at 12:23 am

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

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        • J_R July 8, 2017 at 8:49 pm

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

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          • John Lascurettes July 9, 2017 at 7:05 pm

            I didn’t say maintain, I said top it — it’s not like I get to 20 and hold it for my whole commute (especially with stops). But I regularly spend part of my 3 mile commute above 20mph (I average on any day over the whole commute as high as 16.x mph going to work and 13.x mph going home), and I can peak at about 33mph for a little stretch coming off of the Broadway bridge going either direction. My overall average speed for all my commutes going either direction for ALL my rides since I’ve been tracking my miles (several years) is 13.5mph (that includes hustling my butt rides, and slow, meandering rides). So, it’s really not hard to go above 20 for a good stretch (particularly with the help of even a slight downhill).

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            • John Lascurettes July 9, 2017 at 7:10 pm

              Just looked up a recent commute. I spent 24% of the three miles between 20 and 30 mph (average in that range 21.83 with a high of 26.54). No e-assist necessary.

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              • Pete July 9, 2017 at 9:21 pm

                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.

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              • John Lascurettes July 10, 2017 at 9:15 am

                That is a bummer on a road that has few intersections and no motor vehicles. It would be nice if the 15mph only applied where there were any conflict zones.

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              • El Biciclero July 12, 2017 at 11:49 am

                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.

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        • Alex July 9, 2017 at 7:56 pm

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

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    • Champs July 6, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      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.

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    • Matt S. July 8, 2017 at 9:39 am

      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…

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    • resopmok July 9, 2017 at 11:44 am

      ” 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!

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  • rick July 6, 2017 at 2:14 pm

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

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  • Kyle Banerjee July 6, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    “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.

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    • rainbike July 6, 2017 at 2:51 pm

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

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    • Alex July 6, 2017 at 3:00 pm

      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.

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      • Kyle Banerjee July 6, 2017 at 4:28 pm

        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.

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        • Eric Leifsdad July 7, 2017 at 8:46 am

          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.

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          • Alex July 7, 2017 at 9:10 am

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

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            • Dan A July 12, 2017 at 11:32 am

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

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          • SE Rider July 7, 2017 at 2:43 pm

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

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        • Alex July 7, 2017 at 8:53 am

          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.

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    • 9watts July 6, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      “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.

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    • B. Carfree July 6, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      “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.

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      • Kyle Banerjee July 6, 2017 at 4:52 pm

        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).

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  • J_R July 6, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    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.

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    • Alex July 6, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      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.

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      • J_R July 6, 2017 at 4:07 pm

        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.

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        • Alex July 7, 2017 at 9:01 am

          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.

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      • John Lascurettes July 6, 2017 at 4:11 pm

        I’ve never met a speed governor that wasn’t quickly bypassed by a curious nerd.

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        • Kyle Banerjee July 6, 2017 at 4:45 pm

          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.

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          • Eric Leifsdad July 7, 2017 at 9:51 am

            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.

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        • Alex July 7, 2017 at 8:58 am

          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.

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          • John Lascurettes July 7, 2017 at 11:10 am

            What passenger car sold in America has a speed governor? I know of none except for some fleet vehicles. Most motor vehicles’ speeds are simply limited by their mechanical limits (and physics).

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            • Alex July 7, 2017 at 1:04 pm

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

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              • John Lascurettes July 7, 2017 at 2:40 pm

                I got nothing against ebikes personally. Don’t have one, but I believe their adoption will bring more ridership in the long run (and very potentially fewer cars on the road).

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  • BrianC July 6, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    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?

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    • Alex July 6, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      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.

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      • Steve Scarich July 6, 2017 at 6:59 pm

        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).

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        • Alex July 7, 2017 at 8:54 am

          How was I wrong?

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        • Eric Leifsdad July 7, 2017 at 10:51 am

          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.

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    • Dan A July 12, 2017 at 11:37 am

      I bet that Walmart MTB has really reliable brakes.

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  • John Lascurettes July 6, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Genuine question: when is an ebike not an ebike? That is, if you turn off the assist, is it then considered a bike while operating — or does the mere presence of the motor make it “motorized” even when not in use?

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    • Matt S. July 8, 2017 at 9:46 am

      Extremely good question.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 12, 2017 at 9:39 am

      Exactly John. Which is why laws need to focus on behavior… not specific products or vehicle types.

      This is same reason I strongly oppose “no headphones” laws… What if my headphones are in but I’m not listening to anything?

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      • Dan A July 12, 2017 at 12:52 pm

        I don’t mind pedestrians wearing headphones.

        I DO mind when the pedestrian is blocking my passage while wearing headphones and they can’t hear my Spurcycle or my hollering behind them, as happened to me yesterday. I was two feet behind a guy yelling “hello! excuse me!” repeatedly, and eventually had to give up and squeeze my way past.

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  • Beeblebrox July 6, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    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.

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  • Peter Hass July 6, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    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.

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  • Todd Boulanger July 6, 2017 at 4:41 pm

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

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  • Jason H July 6, 2017 at 4:54 pm

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

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  • John Liu
    John Liu July 6, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    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.

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    • Steve Scarich July 6, 2017 at 7:01 pm

      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).

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      • John Liu
        John Liu July 7, 2017 at 11:40 am

        There are rules now: e-bikes are prohibited.

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  • Norah Macey July 6, 2017 at 5:47 pm

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

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    • Kyle Banerjee July 6, 2017 at 6:57 pm

      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.

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  • The eBike Store
    The eBike Store July 6, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    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]

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    • John Liu
      John Liu July 7, 2017 at 11:42 am

      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.”

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  • The eBike Store
    The eBike Store July 6, 2017 at 6:13 pm

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

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 6, 2017 at 6:48 pm

      you’re right. They’re not. another example of the same problem: laws that need to be updated.

      UPDATE 7/12: Turns out I wasn’t exactly correct on this statement above. According to State Parks: “We do allow electric and other kinds of wheelchairs and scooters on trails/footpaths/other places if it can be done safely. You obviously wouldn’t take an electric wheelchair on every trail, but on the ones where it works, they are allowed… On the mobility side, there’s a huge range of different devices (scooters, power chairs, etc.) and it makes expressing ideas in rules a little complicated.”‘

      Sorry for confusion caused by my initial comment.

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      • park chambers July 6, 2017 at 9:30 pm

        Thanks for following up on this. I see it as a larger issue about access. I think ebikes are great and more people should be able to use them. Every shop in Hood River and Mosier are aware thats it against the law at the state park but they turn a blind eye. We don’t rent them in Hood River just for that reason. It would be the same thing as renting ebikes here in Portland and sending people on Leif Erickson.

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        • VRU July 7, 2017 at 8:53 pm

          laws are made to be broken.

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      • Beeblebrox July 7, 2017 at 12:59 am

        Wow. They’re just asking for an ADA lawsuit if they’re really going to say that both electric wheelchairs and electric bikes are not allowed on trails. That’s pretty clear discrimination against people with disabilities. You might want to contact CREEC to let them know about this. They have successfully filed several ADA lawsuits (or threatened lawsuits) and gotten quick results.

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        • John Liu
          John Liu July 7, 2017 at 12:06 pm

          For e-bikes, it is not that simple. The user of the e-bike would have to actually be “disabled” as defined by the ADA, and the park service may establish reasonable regulations for accommodating disabled persons.

          Are most people calling for e-bike access to park trails really prepared to claim and prove that they are legally “disabled”?

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          • Beeblebrox July 8, 2017 at 10:49 am

            Wait, so you’re saying that Parks could issue a special exemption for someone disabled on an e-bike, but still prohibit other ones? Are they going to make the people get a special placard or something? How about people in wheelchairs, will they have to prove they’re disabled? That seems totally unworkable. I would think the “reasonable accommodation” would be to simply allow them rather than means-testing.

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            • John Liu
              John Liu July 8, 2017 at 10:49 pm

              If you’re going to use the ADA to force e-bikes onto trails, then you’ve got to take what the ADA gives.

              What the ADA currently gives is a set of Federal regulations about the use of Other Power Driven Mobility Device (OPDMD) on facilities normally open to pedestrian use.

              OPDMD does not mean wheelchair; the ADA requires that wheelchairs (manual or electric) be permitted to be used wherever pedestrians are permitted to go. [Jonathan is overlooking that: there is no change to Oregon law necessary for a disabled person in an electric wheelchair to be allowed to use a State park multi-user trail.]

              OPDMD is a general category that includes any gasoline or electric powered vehicle that disabled persons use to get around. This can be mobility scooters, Segway scooters, golf carts, even a gasoline powered ATV could in theory be a OPDMD if disabled person chooses to use it for mobility on a pedestrian trail or MUP. The person has to be actually disabled, although that can include medical conditions not limited to lack of use of limbs, and there are limits on how much information The person can be asked to provide to the owner of the facility. The owner of the facility, such as the park or MUP, has to make reasonable modifications to its policies to permit use of the OPDMD unless it assesses specific factors and determined that the OPDMD should be prohibited.

              So, you sue the State park because riding a bicycle on a particular trail is too hard and you want to ride your e-bike instead, but the park won’t permit e-bikes. The court will decide how the OPDMD regulations apply. Ultimately it will come down to what is reasonable. Are you actually disabled, is an e-bike a suitable mobility device given the alternatives, do the factors listed in the regulations reasonably permit your e-bike to be banned.

              Obviously the court is going to draw the line somewhere. The jerk who tries to call his car a OPDMD is not likely to win. The tourist who can ride a bike, but just doesn’t want to work hard and get sweaty, is not likely to win. The sick guy who can’t ride a bike, because of a heart condition or similar debilitating illness, might fail to convince the court that a mobility scooter isn’t good enough . . . or the court might say the e-bike is fine. That will probably depend a lot on whether the park say they opened some test trails to e-bikes for a couple of years and there were no problems . . . or that there were a lot of problems.

              So let’s do the test. Pick a couple of trails, open them to e-bikes for a few years, gather information (comment cards at the end of the trail, phone numbers/email/webforms, etc), and see what happens.

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        • Mike July 17, 2017 at 12:19 pm

          My wife and I have been riding bikes over 60 years, especially in the Oregon forests. Several times now, I’ve had to stop riding because of my knee or back. I was 10+ miles from home. Now my hiking range is down to 5-6 miles. Because of these safety issues, my wife and I electrified our bikes to 350w, 20 mph max. Living in Bend has lots of opportunities to ride in the forest. These bikes have become our “assist devices”. It’s come down to safety and mobility for us. I believe it’s our civil right to be able to enjoy our forest like anyone else. Obviously, everyone should follow the golden rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. And I would add, “Don’t be stupid”. After talking with Oregon State Park and Recreation spokesperson, Chris Havel, I found out we can ride any trails where bike are allowed. The OSPR is in the process of clarifying the E bike stance. However, the it is the US Forest Service and National Parks who arbitrarily decided E bikes are not an “assist device”! Because of this decision, I have filed complaints with the USDA’s disabilities office, ADA, and CREEC. This issue is not going away. With over 76,000,000 boomers in America, http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2002/JustHowManyBabyBoomersAreThere.aspx and over 40,000 in Deschutes county and growing at a rate of 40% every 5 years, http://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/4467609-151/baby-boomers-are-on-the-rise-in-central, we need to help keep these people healthy and moving. E bikes allow many disabled and elderly the ability to enjoy the forest the same as the young and serious cyclist. Does it make any sense to have restrooms with mandatory handicapped stalls around these trails, while prohibiting assisted bikes on those same trails? For seniors or anyone needing physical assistance, the E bike is the right device.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu July 8, 2017 at 10:58 pm

        ADA permits wheelchairs, manual or electric, on paved paths where pedestrians may walk. Doesn’t matter what state law says, ADA pre-empts. So there is no need to update the state law.

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  • Jeff S July 6, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    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.

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  • Big Knobbies July 6, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    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.

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    • CaptainKarma July 7, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      Simply absurd.

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  • Drew July 6, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    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.

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    • mpeasee July 6, 2017 at 10:23 pm

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

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      • mpeasee July 7, 2017 at 7:54 am

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

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    • Chris I July 7, 2017 at 7:32 am

      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.

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    • John Lascurettes July 7, 2017 at 12:20 pm

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

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      • K Taylor July 7, 2017 at 5:10 pm

        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.

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        • Alex July 9, 2017 at 6:42 pm

          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.

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          • KTaylor July 10, 2017 at 10:50 am

            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.

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    • Pete July 9, 2017 at 9:48 pm

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

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  • mpeasee July 6, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    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.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu July 7, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Technology advances quickly.

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      • mpeasee July 7, 2017 at 1:14 pm

        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.

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  • Skip July 7, 2017 at 10:12 am

    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.

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    • Beeblebrox July 8, 2017 at 10:52 am

      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.

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  • SAM jonas July 7, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    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).
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    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.

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  • SAM jonas July 7, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    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.
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    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?

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    • K Taylor July 7, 2017 at 5:14 pm

      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.

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      • rachel b July 7, 2017 at 9:36 pm

        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.

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        • K Taylor July 9, 2017 at 12:17 am

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

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  • Phil Richman July 7, 2017 at 12:29 pm

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

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    • John Lascurettes July 7, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      BINGO!

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    • Skip July 7, 2017 at 3:19 pm

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

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      • Pete July 14, 2017 at 4:23 pm

        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.

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    • K Taylor July 7, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      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.

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  • SAM jonas July 7, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    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.
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    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?

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  • SAM jonas July 7, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    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.
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    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.

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  • Roland Klasen July 7, 2017 at 5:37 pm

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

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  • Drew July 7, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    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.

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  • Matt S. July 8, 2017 at 9:51 am

    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.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu July 8, 2017 at 10:55 pm

      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.

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  • Paul Z July 9, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    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.

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    • Pete July 9, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      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”? 😉

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  • Goretex Guy July 9, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    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.

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  • El Biciclero July 9, 2017 at 10:15 pm

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

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    • resopmok July 10, 2017 at 9:26 pm

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

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  • rachel b July 10, 2017 at 12:54 am

    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.

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  • Norah Macey July 10, 2017 at 8:49 am

    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.

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    • rachel b July 10, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      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.

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      • resopmok July 10, 2017 at 9:47 pm

        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?

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        • rachel b July 10, 2017 at 10:56 pm

          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?

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  • VRU July 11, 2017 at 7:35 am

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

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    • rachel b July 11, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      ????

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  • WJI July 14, 2017 at 10:40 am

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

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  • Mark smith July 19, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    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

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