The Classic - Cycle Oregon

Oregon begins process to legalize electric-assist bikes in state parks

Posted by on April 10th, 2018 at 10:28 am

E-bikes are currently illegal on paths like the Banks-Vernonia. A new rule would change that.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department wants to update their rules regarding electric bicycles.

As we were first to report last summer, electric bikes are not currently legal to ride on paths in Oregon State Parks. That’s because park paths are governed by Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR), which currently classify electric bicycles as “motor vehicles” — thereby prohibiting their use. (Note that roads outside of state parks are governed by Oregon Revised Statutes which define e-bikes as bicycles). With the rising popularity of pedal-assisted e-bikes, State Parks officials recognize that the OAR is outdated.

Now they’ve begun the process to officially amend the rules to make it clear that electric-assisted bicycles (as defined in ORS 801.258) are allowed in State Parks. The OPRD website has posted a “notice for proposed rulemaking” and there’s a comment form to receive public feedback.

2018Electric-assisted-bicycle-notice

As currently written (beginning on page four the document above), the new rule would:
– allow pedal-assisted e-bikes on all roads and trails eight feet or wider;
– “Restrict speed and manner of operation to a reasonable and prudent practice relative to terrain, prevailing conditions, equipment, personal capabilities, personal safety and the safety of all other park users”;
– give individual park managers discretion to increase or restrict e-bike access if they feel it’s prudent for the context or conditions of a path;
– allow e-bikes on the seashore (where non-motorized bicycles are already allowed);
– and prohibit e-bikes on off-road trails, except when posted otherwise by a park manager.

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Here’s how the state explains the need for a new rule:

“As use of electric assisted bicycles has increased, riders have expressed desire to utilize trails and roads under ORPD management. Opening trails and roads that are eight feet and over and the ocean shore will allow electric assisted bicycles to ride in places that have greater space available to reduce conflict with existing visitors. Existing trail users including equestrians, bicyclists and pedestrians have expressed concerns with increased trail conflicts as user groups are expanded. We are proposing restricting use of electric assisted bicycles to wider trails where greater space is available for multiple types of user groups. If a park manager determined a narrower trail was appropriate for electric assisted bicycles, the proposed rule provides the flexibility to allow for it be signed as open to electric assisted bicycles. The proposed rule would also allow electric assisted bicycles on the ocean shore in areas where other bicycles are currently allowed. Riders would need to follow current rules regarding speed and manner of operations. As with all vehicles, electric assisted bicycles would not be allowed to harass wildlife or ride in snowy plover nesting areas.”

The rule would help open up cycling as a viable mobility option for many more Oregonians. People like Forest Grove resident Chris Billman— whose frustration with this legal grey area spurred him to become the first Oregon resident to get an ADA permit for his bicycle — would no longer have to operate in the shadows. And with legal clarity, bike shops and bike rental companies near State Parks are likely to see a boost in business.

Please share your feedback about this new rule on OPRD’s website or via email at OPRD.publiccomment@oregon.gov. Comment period is open until 5:00 pm on May 18th. There will be six public hearings on the rule change between April 23rd and May 7th. They’ll take place in Hood River, Salem, Redmond, Newport, Bandon, and Warrenton.

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

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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

84 Comments
  • 9watts April 10, 2018 at 10:39 am

    It is unclear to me why electric bikes are thought to be more like the human powered variety than other fuel-powered (motor-)bikes. I’m sure riders of other motorized two-wheelers have in the past ‘expressed the desire’ to be allowed to ride on these paths.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 10, 2018 at 10:45 am

      i think it’s because they are more like the human-powered variety. we’re talking about bikes that are assisted by pedal-power… Bikes with throttles are in a completely different class. I think it’s very reasonable to regulate based on speed, emissions and behavior — and not get bogged down into the technical differences in various vehicle types.

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      • Kyle Banerjee April 10, 2018 at 11:25 am

        I see a surprising number of dino juice powered mopeds — these things are not capable of higher speeds. Likewise, the 30cc scooters are also very slow. A noise argument could be made as e-bikes are quieter than gasoline mopeds, but I don’t that noise any worse than the music some riders blare from bluetooth speakers.

        A high percentage of the e-bikes I encounter are operated under throttle only. This is especially true of the fastest e-bikes I meet on the roads where the riders don’t even pedal.

        The question is whether most of the people who take e-bikes on the paths will use assist to ride at appropriate speeds or go too fast. Whether a bike is fully human powered or assisted with a motor, paths with peds, dogs, kids, and less experienced riders should not be ridden anywhere near the speeds that’s perfectly safe on the roads or non separated bike lanes where passing riders can give plenty of space.

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        • Steve Scarich April 11, 2018 at 8:59 am

          I have a few thoughts as a former seasonal Park Ranger, cyclist, and pedestrian. My recent experience watching the explosive growth of these bikes is that they are almost never being pedaled, but are under power. And, they mostly go much faster than the ‘average’ non-competitive cyclist. When I worked at The Cove Palisades State park, there were not a lot of cyclists, but those that did ride were either young kids or very slow recreational riders, who appeared to have broken out their bikes for the annual camping trip. E-bikes going 20 mph are not compatible with those types of users. The Parks Dept. has zero capability of monitoring their use; Rangers are very busy all day doing all kinds of other stuff, and they have cut back on staffing quite a bit since I worked there (2009)

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          • Chris April 11, 2018 at 9:14 am

            I ride a tandem and when we ride with other tandem’s 20-30 mph is the norm and they don’t have any assist. Two strong riders and 4 legs look out they move fast.
            The worry about the people who chose not to assist the motor on a E-bike. They don’t last long and poor planing could leave you at the bottom of a hill with a dead battery. I am sure that happened more then once.
            The battery is the limiting factor no one brings up. Do the math using 300 watts, at 48 volt motor and a 10 ah battery gives you 480 wh. You peddle or walk your bike back to the shop.

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        • Jason H April 11, 2018 at 4:43 pm

          The line between pedal assist and throttled e-bikes is too fine of one to put the burden on park rangers to be able to discern and enforce, and given the inclination of a few bad apples…

          Imagine if this guy was an Oregonian and caught on the BV, what would the implications for all cyclists? http://road.cc/content/news/239923-police-sweden-stop-e-bike-rider-after-clocking-him-98-kilometres-hour

          Rather than split hairs in enforecement, the easiest solution to problems to the non-cycling park management will be to make trails pedestrian only.

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      • BikeRound April 10, 2018 at 7:11 pm

        And do you believe that anyone will be policing park paths to keep out people with bikes that have throttles? Given how other traffic laws are enforced in the U.S., does that seem probable?

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    • Bjorn April 10, 2018 at 11:37 am

      E-bikes are silent and likely they will only be allowed if they are speed governed. I don’t have a problem with people in electric wheelchairs using the path, which I believe is already allowed. I enjoy riding gas powered motorcycles but they are incompatible with the current use of these trails. Really an ebike governed to not provide assistance above 15mph is much closer to the electric wheelchair than a loud motorcycle capable of travelling at much faster speeds in terms of impact and danger to other users.

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    • Paul April 10, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      Compare an unathletic person riding a low-powered ebike to an athletic person riding an unpowered bike. If you don’t look closely at their equipment, there is no difference. A lot of ebike hate seems to come from athletic people who don’t think that unathletic people deserve to have the same experience they have.

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      • 9watts April 10, 2018 at 1:09 pm

        Ebike hate?

        Are referring to anything here in the comments, or something outside them?

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        • Paul April 10, 2018 at 1:31 pm

          Sorry, I was not meaning to accuse you of hatred. My comment was meant partially in response to yours but also more generally. I was attempting to explain, indirectly, why ebikes are “thought to be more like the human powered variety,” and then I was further hypothesizing about what reasons people might have for disagreeing with this. My use of “hate” was meant in the colloquial sense of something that gets a lot of criticism.

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        • Chris I April 10, 2018 at 3:24 pm

          I guess it’s just “e-bike ignorance”, then.

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      • I wear many hats April 10, 2018 at 2:04 pm

        People riding fast learned to ride fast, and in close proximity to others. Those on E bikes frequently pass within inches, without warning, whereas roadies will give 3 feet. E bike riders are a class entirely new to riding, bringing a host of poor cycling behavior with them. Hence the e bike hate.

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        • soren April 10, 2018 at 2:43 pm

          Fixed it for you:

          “Impatient experienced/skilled cyclists frequently pass within inches, without warning, (especially on Williams and the Hawthorne Bridge) whereas e-bikers are, generally, cautious and careful riders”

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          • Kyle Banerjee April 10, 2018 at 3:19 pm

            The cyclists exhibiting this behavior are almost exclusively younger males — it is virtually nonexistent among older riders and is very rare among women. This pattern follows with e-bikes as well.

            Good to know that these young guys are so skilled and experienced. I otherwise wouldn’t have guessed because I’ve never associated poor judgment with either of those qualities.

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          • BB April 10, 2018 at 3:20 pm

            Except that your “fix” isn’t true.

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            • soren April 11, 2018 at 8:52 am

              and…that was kinda my point. “e-biker” hate is a lot like “biker” hate (e.g. mostly about the stereotyping of the “outgroup” by the perceived “ingroup”).

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        • Chris I April 10, 2018 at 3:24 pm

          *Citation needed

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          • I wear many hats April 10, 2018 at 5:24 pm

            This assertion is based purely on anecdotal evidence, thus I know it to be 100% fact 😉

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      • Rain Waters April 10, 2018 at 3:38 pm

        This viewpoint is taking the easy way out. Turning a complicated situation into a simple emotional yes or no, love or hate. Ok, since you apparently respect the wosdom of simplicity I wonder. . .

        As it is now we have a very simple rule which reads : No Motorized Vehicles.
        That NPR (definitely intended) appears an extremely complicated piece of legalese in comparison ?

        My question is, Why does every single facet of our life going forward bow to requisite complexity while an existing simple rule and use of these peaceful paths is being destroyed ?

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      • Middle of the Road Guy April 10, 2018 at 3:54 pm

        I think it boils down to how people view their bikes. I view mine as exercise and enjoyment with the occasional commute to the gym or bar in warm weather. For other people, it’s simply transportation.

        The “norm” for each person is vastly different in this case.

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      • Chris April 10, 2018 at 4:14 pm

        I have had the experience of being told I was cheating, more then a hundred times! I figure the only person getting cheated was my doctor, I don’t visit him as often now. I figure it is like having SAG on demand. The fear of not being able to get back to your staring place is gone. The secure feeling you have when you look at a fully charged battery when leaving the house. Is priceless! All of the health benefits from cycling is well documented. Any tools you have that gives you the confidence to leave your comfort zone does not qualify as cheating.

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      • Andy K April 17, 2018 at 2:28 pm

        Paul do you really think there are a bunch of “athletic cyclists” out there trying to keep other people from having fun on bikes? Come on. We’re all one big family, checking this blog every day because we care about safe cycling, improving cycling infrastructure, and “growing the sport.”

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    • Rain Waters April 10, 2018 at 3:47 pm

      Discharge the battery and ride a century on your powerless motorcycle.

      A really great workout indeed.

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      • shirtsoff April 10, 2018 at 8:08 pm

        Sounds like a new form of enhanced interrogation techniques to me!

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  • Phil Richman April 10, 2018 at 11:58 am

    My e-assisted bike has a throttle that can take me up to 20MPH and a governor that assures I can go no faster than 20 MPH using the e-assist. So where amongst the rules would that classify my bike?

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    • BB April 10, 2018 at 3:21 pm

      As a moped with no reason or right to be on an MUP.

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      • Chris I April 10, 2018 at 3:25 pm

        But by all means, please feel free to ride your time trial bike at 30mph on the Springwater.

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        • BB April 10, 2018 at 3:36 pm

          Do you think I do this?

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        • I wear many hats April 10, 2018 at 5:22 pm

          Hey now, the NIMBY holier than thou Portlandia cyclists are trashing E bikes, not triathlon. I don’t have enough energy for both right now.

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    • shirtsoff April 10, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      Phil, perhaps you could answer this for me. How is the e-assist bike throttled to 20mph? Specifically, did a bike mechanic set the limit to 20mph, was there an Oregon customs agent that said it had to that, or did the manufacturer simply decide to limit it at that speed? I ask, because I am interested in purchasing a pedal assist bike but the online reviews for the brands I’ve looked at (e.g. Specialized and Electra) top off at 25 mph. I know Oregon requires the limit to be 20 mph… so I am wondering how local legislation and (inter)national manufacturers interact (or don’t) to provide products within the Oregon market.

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  • 9watts April 10, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
    …not get bogged down into the technical differences in various vehicle types.Recommended 4

    I would submit that the technical distinctions only start to matter once *one class* of motorized bike is allowed.

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  • The Bike Concierge April 10, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    E-bikes are the second most popular category of bike that people are purchasing in my shop. The buyers are past retirement age and still want to remain active, but want the insurance of knowing if they ride past their capacity, they have the electric assist to help them get home. They are not looking to set speed record or terrorize other cyclists or pedestrians, and I doubt most of my customers will ever see the governed speed on their bikes.

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    • B. Carfree April 10, 2018 at 9:01 pm

      I live in a different city. I live adjacent to the main bike path system (about fifteen miles of continuous path). There is also an electric bike shop along the path; it sells only e-bikes and sends its customers out on the path as their first ride. It’s phenomenally rare for anyone on an e-bike to behave badly on the path. It is indeed mostly older folks just trying to be a bit active, including one guy with an oxygen hook-up on.

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      • 9watts April 10, 2018 at 11:23 pm

        The demographics of likely e-bike purchasers is endearing, and perhaps it will turn out as you and others surmise. I’m certainly open to that.
        My reservations about e-bikes are not hate, or antipathy toward the frail, or any of the litany glibly tossed out. My reservations are about the familiar, predictable trend toward inventing, marketing, and successfully selling a powered version of what once/still mostly is a human-powered conveyance. In some circles this is referred to as ‘energy-using technological change.’ If we didn’t live in a full world (TM Herman Daly) it would be of no consequence, a droll evolution. But we do live in a full world, and something’s going to give – probably soon. The requisite electricity, notwithstanding the wishful thinking of many (including bikeportland readers), will by and large be generated from fossil fuels. Cheerfully welcoming the falling of one more un-motorized class of technology in 2018 gives me pause. And, frankly, the cheerful welcoming is as worrisome as the ascent of the technology itself.

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      • Alex Reedin April 11, 2018 at 2:15 pm

        9watts, I disagree. E-bikes sip so little electricity that even though I think our sustainable level of renewable energy use is far less than current fossil fuel use, our future sustainable world can accommodate daily use of an e-bike by much of the world’s population.

        And, I’d guess that e-bike miles displace other mode miles in roughly these proportions:
        60% car
        20% bike
        10% public transit
        10% wouldn’t have traveled that mile

        That’s a huge decrease in energy use due to the car (and public transit ai think!) use reduction.

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        • 9watts April 11, 2018 at 8:12 pm

          Sure . Like smart phones, and standby power, and the clock on the microwave… The trouble is- and I know you know this is that it all adds up. No one is actually subtracting anything. Our collective and per capita usage goes up, keeps going up, despite all of thes *savings*………

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          • soren April 12, 2018 at 8:32 am

            1) E-bikes are efficient machines that use less energy per mile than muscle metabolism.

            2) ~40% of the energy in Portland is decarbonized (this is pathetic in comparison to California).

            3) Human-powered bikes are also powered by fossil-fuels.

            https://ecf.com/sites/ecf.com/files/ECF_CO2_WEB.pdf

            Grams of CO2 per passenger per kilometer traveled

            * Bicycle: 21 g
            * Electric-assist bicycle: 22 g
            * Passenger car: 271 g
            * Bus: 101 g

            Because ~40% of the energy used by e-bikes in Portland is decarbonized, the above life-cycle analysis strongly suggests that e-cycling is a better choice than human-powered cycling when it comes to GHG emissions.

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            • 9watts April 14, 2018 at 2:09 pm

              Thanks for linking to that paper, Soren. I read it. The assumptions made in the comparison of bikes and pedelecs strike me as problematic.
              1. The product life of both bike types are set at 8yrs. Just for example, all of my bikes are around thirty years old. It is also highly questionable to assume that the age profile (decay rate) of both types of bike would be the same. One is simple, has few moving parts and is incredibly durable, while the other has vastly more parts, more complexity, more rare metals, and will consequently fail in more ways and sooner than its human powered counterpart.

              2. The fact that the authors specified an aluminum bike will significantly bias the embodied energy calculations, and I’m. It sure it is even a fair decision if what they are trying to do is represent an average bike-that-will-be-used-to-ride 2400 km/yr.

              3. The CO2 burden of the two bikes are estimated at 5g/km for the regular bike and 7g/km for the pedelec. I would very much like to know how they arrived at a mere 40% CO2 penalty for the extra equipment (batteries, motor, controllers, etc.).

              4. But the most consequential decision discussed in the paper is how they calculate the extra food required to pedal the bike over driving a car (no food calories assessed) and the pedelec (1/3 as many food calories assessed vs the person bicycling). I’d be curious to hear from folks who own and use pedelecs to speak to this assumption: a person bicycling burns 16g CO2/km extra, while the pedelec rider burns only 6g CO2/km more than the driver of a car.
              I find all of this pretty implausible. This framing obscures or misconstrues so much of how we make sense of eating, exercise, industrial agriculture, etc. none of the food-related assumptions the authors use strike me as reasonable, but unfortunately I don’t read Dutch so can’t read the study that underlies this.
              Their conclusion, after all the figures are tallied, is that the two bikes are essentially equivalent, that the food the bicyclist eats above and beyond the food eaten by the pedelec rider(!) has a greater climate impact than the required electricity + the pedelec-specific equipment. The heroics in assumptions that are required to make this result come out this way are impressive as well as troubling. I welcome anyone to weigh in on this.

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              • soren April 15, 2018 at 10:50 am

                Aren’t you quibbling over rounding errors? And especially so if we see 60-70% decarbonization of energy (see https://www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/newsdetails/index.page?title=20170316_pge_renewable_energy_deliveries_grow_ghg-free_portfolio_is_nearly_70_percent for example of feasibility).

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              • 9watts April 15, 2018 at 1:18 pm

                You are using the term decarbonization here in a way that I don’t think is warranted. There is plenty of carbon generated in the production and delivery of electrons made with something other than fossil fuels, just as we saw in the case of the pedelecs which have a carbon signature or footprint.

                But my reply above wasn’t about this at all but about the assumptions that were used in the Dutch study, which I’m working on translating. I listed a series of issues I has with the study and I invite you to critique my criticisms.

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              • soren April 15, 2018 at 8:25 pm

                driving a car (no food calories assessed)

                This is incorrect:

                “while the relative metabolic
                rate of “driving to work” requires no more energy
                than somebody going about their daily activities: 1,5
                kilocalories per kilogram per hour8.”

                This is also incorrect:

                person bicycling burns 16g CO2/km extra

                “”At 16 km per hour, a cyclist is burning about 4 kilocalories
                per kilogram per hour7,”

                The idea that food calories are associated with a significant fraction of GHG emissions is hardly controversial, 9watts:

                In fact, if we were to use USAnian tons of CO2e per yearly diet they difference would be even greater.

                ECF study:
                “food has an impact of 1.83 tons CO2e per year per person15, this puts the kilocalories at 1.44g CO2e”

                vs

                USA:
                http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/food-carbon-footprint-diet
                2.5 tons CO2e per year per person.

                The fact that the authors specified an aluminum bike will significantly bias the embodied energy calculations

                Why? Most bikes are made from aluminum and since both frames were assumed to be aluminum ally, the frame material was moot. Moreover, e-bike frames made from steel are also available. All thing being equal, the frame is irrelevant.

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              • soren April 15, 2018 at 8:54 pm

                Google translate of the relevant part of the Danish paper:

                “When cycling to work with an average pedal assistance is at one
                pace of 22 km per hour on average about 5.5 METs (Metabolic Equivalent) consumed.
                For comparison: 1 MET is the energy consumption of a person in complete
                peace. This is comparable to conventional in terms of energy consumption
                cycling at a speed of 16 km per hour, where 5 to 6 MET is consumed. While
                sitting traveling (car / bus) is about 1 to 2 MET consumed. This means that it
                energy consumption, in comparison with the car / public transport, can increase by about 4 MET by (electrically) cycling, which is equivalent to approximately 4.7 kcal / min;”

                http://www.fietsberaad.nl/library/repository/bestanden/Rapport%20KvL-B&G-2008-067%20compleet.pdf

                A different study estimates 4.9 MEts for pedalec cycling:

                https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/static.peopleforbikes.org/Peterman%20etal%202016%20Pedelecs%20as%20a%20physically%20active%20transportation%20mode.pdf

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              • 9watts April 15, 2018 at 9:39 pm

                “while the relative metabolic
                rate of ‘driving to work’ requires no more energy
                than somebody going about their daily activities: 1,5
                kilocalories per kilogram per hour8.”

                My interpretation of that wording was: unlike biking and sitting on a pedelec, driving is no different than the background rate.

                “This is also incorrect:
                person bicycling burns 16g CO2/km extra

                “At 16 km per hour, a cyclist is burning about 4 kilocalories
                per kilogram per hour7,”

                Not sure about that. Keep reading:
                therefore the “fuel” of the cyclist can be estimated at 16 grams CO2e/km 16.

                “The idea that food calories are associated with a significant fraction of GHG emissions is hardly controversial, 9watts:
                In fact, if we were to use USAnian tons of CO2e per yearly diet they difference would be even greater.”

                We’re talking past each other.
                I never said that there isn’t a CO2 signature to the average diet whether here or in Europe; my contention is that the imputed metabolic difference between driver (does that driver sometimes drive to the gym?) and biker seems far too high, and between biker and pedelec pilot also greater than I can square from my experience.
                For instance, there are error bars associated with food source and type (e.g. all the way from vegan to carnivore) that can reasonably be assumed to be large. Not so for the life cycle inputs to motors, batteries, and the electricity to fuel them. The entire infrastructure, from mining to manufacturing, distribution, disposal, and use is drenched in fossil fuels, whereas I can if I so choose go out in my garden and eat a carrot fed by rainwater. The analysis here glosses over all of these many layers, dimensions, differences.

                “The fact that the authors specified an aluminum bike will significantly bias the embodied energy calculations…
                Why?”

                Because the life cycle CO2 balance for aluminum is higher than for steel
                https://www.makeitfrom.com/compare/6061-O-Aluminum/Normalized-4130-Cr-Mo-Steel

                “Most bikes are made from aluminum”

                do you know this? I don’t know, but certainly hope not.

                “and since both frames were assumed to be aluminum ally, the frame material was moot.”

                I looked but the frame material of the pedelec was not identified in the report. It is reasonable to assume it would also be aluminum, but omitting that detail seemed unhelpful at best.

                “Moreover, e-bike frames made from steel are also available. All thing being equal, the frame is irrelevant.”

                Hardly. Remember we’re comparing multiple modes here, specifically a car + driver, a bike + rider, and a pedelec + rider. I submit that the frame material matters, though of course if the two bikes share that material then the inter-bike comparison is not going to be affected by that variable, as you suggest.

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  • Peter J April 10, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    It would be good to distinguish in these articles between persons with a disability and the able bodied. It is my understanding that persons with a disability would be covered by the DOJ ruling on “Other Powered-Driven Mobility Devices.” These are specifically exempt from the proposed rule -see Sentence (6) of the draft rule. My assumption is that Mr. Billman would be covered under the federal DOJ rules and therefore may already be allowed to ride his bicycle on a paved trail managed by the OPRD.

    Because of the existing DOJ rule it would be better not to use persons with disabilities as an argument for allowing motorized bicycles on OPRD property. All of us will most likely have a disability at least at one point in our lives. But, that is specifically not what this rule is about. This draft rule is about whether or not the able bodied are allowed to ride electric bicycles on OPRD property.

    Caveat- I am a trail practitioner, and not an attorney so take all of this with a grain of salt 🙂

    for more on the OPDMD rule:

    http://www.americantrails.org/resources/accessible/OPDMD-DOJ-requirement-basic.html

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  • Lester Burnham April 10, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Expecting an uptick on e-bike/ped collisions and injuries. Not good.

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  • CaptainKarma April 10, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    E-bikes that can exceed 15 mph should be liability insured.

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    • Brian April 10, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      Why? Shouldn’t all bikes then be liability insured?

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  • Mike Sanders April 10, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    I would limit bikes (and especially E-bikes) to a 10mph speed limit within state parks (and that could be extended to county and city parks, too, as well as national parks and sites). Maybe 15 on paths separate from the road system, but not more than that.

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    • shirtsoff April 10, 2018 at 8:16 pm

      If the bike has GPS capabilities or the attached smart phone (such as in the case of the Copenhagen Wheel and other e-bike technologies) that seems certainly feasible.

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  • Jon April 10, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    For me there is a clear distinction between human powered travel and motorized travel. If you are going up a steep enough hill all human powered methods of travel go about the same speed. A strong runner/hiker will go as fast as a strong bicyclist, maybe faster since they don’t have the added 20 pounds of bicycle when the grade gets very steep.
    I always hear about governed speeds with electric motorized bicycles but observations have led me to conclude that just like how automotive companies use added horsepower to help sell cars, electric motorized bicycle companies are constantly increasing wattage to help sell their products. Just search “remove governor ebike” on google and “tuning” ebikes and you will get plenty of help “speeding up your commute” and going fast on the trails. If 200W is ok, 1500W is better. Once again search on the internet for videos of ebike speed and you will find plenty of videos of people going very fast without pedaling on an “ebike”.
    If you can pedal an e-assist bike you can pedal a human powered bike. You may have to ride slower, not go as far, or take flatter terrain but everyone has limits. There are tons of riders can ride much farther or faster than me. If you want to ride a motorcycle there are plenty of low traffic roads and gravel roads that you can enjoy with as many watts that you want with no legal issues. If you want to enjoy a non-motorized path or trail, then ride a bicycle.

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  • J_R April 10, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    The ability of people to achieve high speeds with very little effort and minimal training quickly turns a substantial portion of them into idiots.

    I would point to the invention of “personal watercraft” as the prime example. Having been a sailor for decades, I remember seeing them when they were first invented. These devices allowed great speed and freedom of movement that endangered swimmers, sailors, fishermen, and other water users. I think that the pwc’s became the primary reason for licensing of boat operators. I’ve can count on one hand the times I’ve seen a sailor or canoeist operate in ways that endanger others. I often encounter pwc operators who are less than courteous, who operate illegally, or are simply reckless.

    I hope that e-bike users who are given the opportunity to use state park trails are immune to the temptations that are afforded by the easy, effortless power available to them.

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    • I wear many hats April 11, 2018 at 7:59 am

      This is exactly the fear a lot of long time cyclists have. I don’t fear them enough however to ban them, because I would then be just like the hikers who fear mountain bikers.

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    • TK April 11, 2018 at 10:57 am

      I’ve been riding bicycles for 60 years. I’ve commuted year round, done a long distance trip, ridden over 10,000 ft passes and lot’s of recreational riding in a variety of environments. I also worked in cycling retail 30 years ago. When I see people equating pedal assist e-bikes to motorcycles and personal watercraft I feel they have a fundamental misunderstanding of how they work and what their function is. I’ve also been riding motorcycles for 30 years and, believe me, they are not motorcycles. I’m fortunate to be retired now and still enjoy cycling. I have a few “standard” bikes and recently purchased an e-bike. I live in a very hilly section of Portland. I use my e-bike for transportation, enjoyment and recreation. If I want a workout, I can get on my road bike. However, if I’m interested in a relaxing ride to get coffee, run down the store or do errands, I’ll take my e-bike. I had an errand to run in NW Portland last week. I was able to ride up past Council Crest from SW Portland and down into NW and returned the same way. For this particular errand, if I did not have the e-bike, I would have driven a car or rode my motorcycle. In years past, I’ve done the same ride on regular bikes, including a fat bike. I no longer wish to do it on a regular bike. To say riding an e-bike is effortless is based on misinformation. I still get a workout, but it takes the strain off my 68 year old joints following some hip problems I had a few years back. Frequently when I ride the e-bike, I cut the assist and ride without. I mainly use it for the climbs. However, to suggest that these types of bikes are only being bought by inexperienced cyclists, people out of shape or the feeble is bogus. While I’m sure there are some purchasers that fall into that category, many do not.

      To say it is effortless is based on misinformation. I still get a workout, but it takes the strain off my 68 year old joints following some hip problems I had a few years back. Oregon needs to follow the lead of a few other states that are putting in place sensible regulations that differentiate between different classes of e-assist bikes and where they can be used. California, as usual, as taken the lead on this. In Europe, which so many people look to as a model for cycling, pedal assist e-biking is exploding. I saw an article recently stating that 50% of bikes sold in Belgium in 2016 were pedal assist. Ownership in Germany is use and climbing in the Netherlands. They are coming so Oregon needs to sort this out and move forward.

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    • Alex Reedin April 11, 2018 at 2:22 pm

      Can you go ride an e-bike please if you haven’t? Jetskis are just not a good analogy. Jetskis lend themselves to thrill-seeking and adrenaline and go WAY faster than the human-power-only alternatives. The vast majority of e-bikes I see are staid workhorses, sturdy companions that bring slower folks up to the speed of faster cyclists. Yes, there are exceptions, but in my experience they are few and far between.

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  • B.R. April 10, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    I think there are a lot of misconceptions about e-bikes with pedal-assist and how they work. Like, you *have* to pedal in order to ride, do people not realize this? The *only* reason I ride anymore is because I have electric assist and carry a kid/groceries on my bike, which gets heavy. I’m so sick of elitist bike culture.

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  • 9watts April 10, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    B.R.
    I’m so sick of elitist bike culture.Recommended 0

    Just a bit ironic, that turn of phrase?

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  • Bay Area rider April 10, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    J_R
    I hope that e-bike users who are given the opportunity to use state park trails are immune to the temptations that are afforded by the easy, effortless power available to them.Recommended 2

    People should realize that pedal assist e-bikes may be easier but they aren’t effortless power. I have one that uses the Bosh system. In the lowest assist mode it boosts the power you put into the pedals by 55%. At the moment I don’t remember what the boost levels are for the other 3 assist levels. I think the turbo mode is like a 250% boost to the power you put into the pedals. Of course on the turbo mode you don’t get to many miles on a fully charged battery. The important part is the rider still has to put power into the pedals to get an assist out of the bike.

    Also you can ride with no assist. When a Bosh system comes into the bike shop the mechanics can download a report with all kinds of info like highest speed attained since the last reset, miles ridden and a breakdown of how much time you have ridden at each assist level. At my friends bike show he was surprised to see that most people will ride almost 1/2 the time with no assist at all with the lowest assist mode being the one used most of the rest of the time.

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  • N-1 April 10, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    E bikes are here. And they get people out of their cars. Politeness doesn’t turn off when you get on a bike (either e or not – or your car). I’m going to argue it was never there. I don’t like agro behavoir so i don’t model it. Not on my bike (solo with panniers) or my ebike (with two kids and three grocery bags). If there wasn’t so much ego, people themselves wouldn’t care someone on an ebike is smoking you up the hill. Be happy that they are getting out, outside and out of their car. Oh, and stop shouting unsolicited advice, condemnation, opinions to other people riding. Learn how to have a conversation. Find out why they chose an ebike. Who knows, we may find ourselves older, less athletic, and less able bodied one day but still enjoy the outdoors or being carfree. As for the outliers, don’t let them ruin your day, there will always be outliers.

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  • 9watts April 10, 2018 at 9:08 pm

    N-1
    E bikes […]get people out of their cars.Recommended 0

    An interesting hypothesis. I wonder if anyone has data to back this up, or can concretize what you mean by that phrase?

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    • Paul April 11, 2018 at 10:55 am

      I’m not exactly data, but for what it’s worth, I drive less than half as much after getting an ebike two years ago (and bike three times as much as before).

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    • I wear many hats April 11, 2018 at 12:16 pm

      My friend NEVER rode a bike because of his asthma, but now is a 5 x week bike commuter on his E bike.
      It instantly transported him into bike traffic, w/o never having learned the nuances of sharing spaces with cars and pedestrians. He thought SW broadway was a good place because of the bike lanes, but he constantly gets doors thrown in his face, and pedestrians step in front of him. He’s surprised that he’s invisible to other traffic. This is dangerous because he’s riding at 18 mph w/o the knowledge that comes with that speed. But, the E bike makes him a bike commuter, and not a driver, and for this, I’m thankful.

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      • Brian April 11, 2018 at 12:19 pm

        Seems like a great opportunity for an e-bike shop or local non-profit to get people on the road in a group and educate them about how to do so safely.

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      • Alex Reedin April 11, 2018 at 2:32 pm

        This sounds… like anyone starting to bike in the city. If you stick a young, fit person who doesn’t bike on a non-e-bike, they’ll go 15mph most of the time. If you stick anyone on a bike, they’ll go 20mph downhill. The solution is universal biking and walking education in public schools like some Northern European countries do, not anything specific to e-bikes.

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    • N-1 April 11, 2018 at 6:32 pm

      This is what i mean by starting a conversation. You can ask me since I posted it, there is no need to round up “anyone” or everyone. It’s an observation that i have made. If it was a hypothesis i would have included words like if and then. It’s gotten my family out of our car. We used to ride 3 miles on a tag along and bike trailer and regular bike – maximum in a one way trip. I couldn’t go farther and i couldn’t do a ton of errands and i had difficulty with steep starts on streets with lights (part of our bike regular bike route). I am relatively fit, i run 3-5 miles 3x week, i swim 45 min once a week and bike solo 60 miles/wk for my commute. My kids got heavier and school got farther away. We drove more. I hated it. I bought an ebike. We’ve put around 2000 miles on it in one year. I’m back on my low mile car insurance because we don’t have to use it as much. We are much happier now. It’s gotten my friend’s family out of their car also. They had the same story. They got an ebike. Most customers at the bike shop have the same story, that’s why we are buying these freakishly heavy expensive things. And i acknowledge that i am very lucky and priveledged to be able to do so. My son can’t ride long distances yet, so i tow him when i have to. It greatly increases the mileage we can ride and reduces the need for our car. I would love to take them on paved trails at state parks. That’s where we do a lot of our camping and outdoor adventures. Teaching my kids how to be polite, showing them how to be polite and modelling how to be polite on the trails can go a long way.
      This part is not in response to your question: I can see the future of the columbia gorge filled with tourists on ebikes instead of driving to each waterfall along the route. It’s that feeling of freedom on your bike. It’s what we all love. Wind in your hair. A greater appreciation of the outdoors may help people realize that we have to protect it, reduce carbon emissions, save habitat, etc.

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  • B. Carfree April 10, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    If we want to grow cycling’s mode share, we should probably consider that the fastest growing sector in the world in cycling is e-bikes. It may well be the only sector that is growing domestically.

    There will be some crashes, many of them due to infrastructure designed for 10 mph. We can crush cycling so that there are no bike-on-bike crashes or we can push together to grow it and simultaneously push for infrastructure that also works for higher speeds and much higher numbers of riders. It seems so simple, but clearly others see it differently.

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    • Steve Scarich April 11, 2018 at 9:29 am

      It might seem simple, until you consider the cost of improving the infrastructure on thousands of miles of park bike paths. This is in an era when the parks barely have enough money/staff to empty the garbage cans.

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      • Chris April 11, 2018 at 9:57 am

        The only infrastructure change I think is needed is the removal of the Bollards they place to stop people in cars from entering the trail.
        I have not read one story about a head on collision with another bicycle on a trail in the park system.
        I have witnessed two cyclist hit Bollard’s made out of a tree post that blends into the background on the Banks trail.

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  • Jason H April 11, 2018 at 11:05 am

    So many people mistakenly conflating commuting and general pedal assist bike usage and their technical specifications for the actual topic here, which is use of these motorized machines on recreational trails in state parks. E-bikes ARE here no doubt, and the potential to increase mode share and get people out of cars with them is real. I think that’s great and I have no qualms about their use in nearly all situations and places. As I age I might even consider an assist bike myself someday for road and bike lane use to extend the years I am out there riding.

    But please, please, let there be one place “boost-free” and devoid of these machines. The kind of trails this is about are nearly entirely in rural, sparsely populated locations. They are probably nearly 100% recreational use, and almost everyone taking an e-bike to them are taking it on a car-rack to get there. It is NOT about infrastructure equity or people having their “experience” diminished. My experience in these places, and those of the other trail users such as walkers/hikers/etc. is about the amazing ability to get away from cities and their cacophony under my own power. And yes even get away from the “first 2 miles from the trailhead users” on the trail itself. Out to places where sometimes it’s so still and quiet that yes, even the electric hum of an e-bike motor is noticeable and intrusive.

    It’s a dangerous precedent to allow any kind of motorized recreation on trails in state and national parks where the clear cut limit is between human powered and motorized full stop. Especially when it’s perfectly capable abled riders (even if older or inexperienced, sorry) who just feel the need to go farther and faster for recreation then they can under their own power ( I worry what happens when they drain their battery or suffer a electronic malfunction). That’s just selfish, honestly. I’d sure like to ride all day for 200+ miles at a go on a beautiful warm day, but that is far above my ability and I have no hubris thinking I deserve it no matter the impact to other users. Genuinely mobility disabled users who would qualify for a disabled placard should of course be able to use a device such as electric wheelchair, scooter or trike.

    So frankly e-bike users, isn’t it ok that there are just a few places you have to leave your assisted bike at home to ride? A small slice of the world that holds the line for quiet and solitude? A minuscule amount of milage compared to all the other places to ride your assisted bike (Including in Oregon, THOUSANDS of miles of just as scenic, nearly car-free rural roads)? If not, don’t expect me to not express my opinion when I meet you out there. Every time I see you on a state park trail I will let you know verbally just what I think. It may just sour your “experience”.

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    • soren April 11, 2018 at 1:06 pm

      You sound exactly like a “Not On My Trail” hiker or dog-walker.

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      • Jason H April 11, 2018 at 4:10 pm

        Sure, fair enough, I can live with the label you want to put on me. Just like you would have to at some threshold. Maybe it would be throttle actuated non-assist required motorized bikes on the trails, maybe it would be ATVs, snowmobiles, or coal-rolling pickups, but I guarantee there is some point that includes you but excludes somebody else’s desire to use the trail where you become that person too Soren.

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    • Alex Reedin April 11, 2018 at 1:53 pm

      Seriously dude. The hum of an electric bike motor is less noticeable than the squeals of unlubed chains or most brakes. If you give me a hard time for enjoying a state park trail quietly, respectfully, and slower than most road bikers with my kids in tow without excessive difficulty pushing them around, you’ve got some seriously misplaced priorities.

      And re: escaping crowds – I love solitude as much as you. And yet, I celebrate when my previously secret spots are discovered. We live in a society with extreme nature deficit disorder so it is heartening to see some forms of outdoor recreation expanding. We are lucky to live in a state with vast expanses of rural, public, and wilderness land. There are always more awesome secret spots to be discovered as needed. State Parks are not the place for solitude and are not intended to be – they are a completely different animal – well-developed and signed, easy to access, natural spaces for folks who don’t have a ton of outdoors expertise and research time or folks who just on any given day want an easy place to go.

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      • Jason H April 11, 2018 at 4:04 pm

        Priorities? My priority would be to enjoy the resource with a minimum of technological intrusion. And if you’re imagining an expletive filled rant spat at you, think more “Nice electric moped” innocuous quip with just a little bite and also probably only aimed at someone passing me under full boost, which doesn’t sound like you anyway. I took my daughter with me on miles of adventures behind me on a trail-a-bike when she was smaller, never once wishing I had a motor to make it better. I’m not suggesting the parks are actually designed for solitude. That’s what wilderness areas are for. In most parks the solitude you find away from the trailheads is happenstance, not a right. But the likelihood increases with the distance and time required to reach those places. Anything that erodes that is a loss, that’s how I feel, and always will.

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  • Eric Porter April 11, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    I worry more about where this leaves things 5-10 years from now. Once ebike battery capacity and power increase exponentially, and size and weight decrease equally, ebikes will become even faster. At least human power has a fairly consistent and time tested top speed and limits.

    It starts with the wide paths, and then a few years later they’re ripping rooster tails uphill on the MTB singletrack…

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    • Alex Reedin April 11, 2018 at 4:46 pm

      Yeah, I’m much more concerned about e-MTBs (although I don’t currently MTB because of how inconvenient local politicians and land managers have made it). I think that tight regulation or prohibition of e-MTBs on some/many trails is probably a good idea. Also, I’d be fine with excluding e-bikes on truly remote non-MTB trails (e.g. future Salmonberry trail, current OC&E Woods Line Trail further than like 15 miles from Klamath Falls, etc.)

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  • gl. April 12, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    It’s better to ban the behavior, not the bike. I agree speed differentials are a hazard on both paths and streets. Put a speed limit on the path which applies to all bikes, whether they are wholly human-powered or pedal-assisted.

    Ebikes are what got me into biking, and they reduced the anxiety of traffic, weather, and physical fitness that would have kept me from knowing the freedom and thrill of bicycles. When I wanted to go further than the ebike range would allow, I transitioned to a “regular” bike, which I was able to do because of the gains in familiarity and stamina I developed while learning to ride an ebike. Now I have an ebike again, and I bike three times as much as I did when I had a “regular” bike. At every stage, there was always someone quick to tell me how I was using the wrong bike.

    (Of course, this presumes anyone is patrolling and watching for ebikes — or speeds — on those paths, anyway.)

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    • gl. April 17, 2018 at 1:55 pm

      And… comments sent! Thanks for following up on this, Jonathan.

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  • Motor Bikes April 13, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    A motorbike is a bike with a motor. There’s rapidly diminishing speed difference if it’s gas or electric. Motorbikes are allowed almost everywhere in Oregon. There’s a zillion roads, dirt and paved. There’s even parks with motorbikes on beaches. Motorbikes have no place on paths built for humans, not motors.

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    • Alex Reedin April 13, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      Rapidly diminishing speed difference… Really trying to figure this one out given e-bikes per statute max out at 20 and motorcycles go 65+.
      .
      .
      .
      .
      I’ve got it! The starting point is remote-control electric motorcycles 3″ long from 1995, so today’s ebikes go way faster than that. That’s how the gap rapidly diminished (the fact that the 20 max is fixed so the gap is no longer diminishING is pedantic I suppose) right?

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  • The Future? April 16, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Wouldn’t want to share a park with this: “Truly terrifying speeds” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbM5YgAys80
    50+ mph “Stealth Bomber” a “mountain bike on steroids …and amphetamines”

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  • Ervin Sverdrup April 18, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    You can buy a 700hp car that can go over 200mph, we put speed limits on them for safety and penalties for abuse. It should not be that difficult to control the use of a 20mph bike. Think about it.

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