Major e-bike bill opposed by The Street Trust

These kids’ legal guardians would be in violation of Oregon law if a bill in the legislature passed. (Photos: Megan Ramey)

“I am frustrated by the short-sightedness. HB 4103 is a one-sided, incomplete bill that will focus solely on rider enforcement as a deterrent”

– Frank Stevens, Mobility Programs and Policy Fellow for The Street Trust

A bill that would change the legal status of electric bicycles in Oregon is up for its first public hearing in Salem later today, and cycling and road safety advocates disagree on whether or not it’s the right path forward.

There are two e-bike bills up for consideration in the Oregon Legislature this session: House Bill 4067 and House Bill 4103. HB 4067 would create a task force on “electric micromobility,” a catch-all term that includes e-bikes and other small, battery-powered vehicles. That bill has broad support and is likely to pass.

But the more substantive of the two, HB 4103, has created a bit of a stir in advocacy circles. Some say it could hinder e-bike adoption, adds too much regulation too soon, and is overly punitive; while others say it’s a step forward for safety. Most notably, the bill is being opposed by Portland-based nonprofit, The Street Trust.

Here’s what’s going on…

HB 4103 is championed by Representative Emerson Levy, a Bend lawmaker who dedicated herself to the issue following a traffic collision last summer that killed a teen who was riding an e-bike. Dubbed “Trenton’s Law” in memory of 15-year-old Bend High School student Trenton Burger, if the bill became a law, it would do four things:

  • Change current definition of “electric assisted bicycle” and add Oregon to the list of 39 states that have a three-class system of e-bike classifications: Class 1, 20 mph max with no throttle; Class 2, 20 mph max with throttle; and Class 3, 28 mph max without throttle.
  • Allow anyone 15 and under to ride Class 1 e-bikes. (Current Oregon law makes e-bikes illegal to that age group.)
  • Prohibit anyone 15 and under from riding an e-bike with a throttle (Class 2 and Class 3). (Already technically illegal, but not enforced.)
  • Create a new Class D misdemeanor traffic violation of “unsafe electric assisted bicycle riding” punishable by $115 maximum fine. (Note: Bill was introduced as a Class E misdemeanor but amendment filed Wednesday would raise it to Class D.)

The bill comes in response to concerns that arose long before Burger’s death around the rise of “throttle kids” in several Oregon cities. Burger’s bike was equipped with a throttle, but it’s unclear if that led to the crash. The collision happened when a driver turned into Burger as she attempted to pull her minivan onto a busy arterial highway from a slip lane. Burger was on the sidewalk prior to the collision.

In an email to Rep. Levy Thursday, The Street Trust Executive Director Sarah Iannarone said she appreciated the intent behind HB 4103 and was glad to see the provision opening up Class 1 bikes to young riders, but was, “apprehensive about the imposition of Class D Traffic Violations for parents, as this could create unwarranted obstacles for low-income and BIPOC individuals.” (The Street Trust launched an e-bike program last fall that expands access for low-income and BIPOC individuals.) Iannarone also expressed that many of the most affordable e-bike models are Class 2 and she feels Oregon should align its laws with the 42 other states that currently allow these bikes to be ridden by people under 16.

“We want parents, children and community to know that this law can’t change what has already happened, but could serve in adjusting the culture and awareness around e-bike risks.”

– David Burger, father of Trenton Burger

The Street Trust recently took over leadership (from electric vehicle advocacy group Forth) of an ad hoc group known as the E-Bikes for All Working Group (EB4A). EB4A has been meeting monthly since 2019 and includes about 80 people from a wide variety of people on its invite list with several dozen regulars who attend the meetings. The Street Trust recently installed a contracted staffer (through a partnership with Portland State University) to lead the meetings.

In a statement to BikePortland this morning, Iannarone said, 

“The E-Bikes for All Working Group has not been able to get traction from Rep. Levy on our proposed amendments, despite the breadth and expertise of people assembled, which is a shame given the high caliber of business, public policy, and academic achievements among that group. Further, we have seen time and again how the transportation needs of teens in particular are regarded as a nuisance or PR problem in the public discourse, especially in more affluent communities – whether it’s scooting, or skateboarding, or now e-bikes. Our hope is that the true threat on our streets – motor vehicle operators behaving dangerously – can be the focus of transportation conversations and that we are educating and empowering our youth to move independently and safely through the world without needing access to a private automobile, which we know is hugely regressive for our lowest-income Oregonians. We also hope that these policy discussions can be undertaken more systematically in the future via the Electric MIcromobility Task Force (HB 4067).” 

The EB4A group released a statement and petition this week opposing the bill that has already garnered support from 275 individuals and organizations.

The Street Trust Mobility Programs and Policy Fellow Frank Stevens (the aforementioned staffer who leads EB4A meetings) submitted testimony of his own to the Joint Committee on Transportation where the bill currently resides. “I am frustrated by the short sightedness exhibited by HB 4103,” Stevens wrote. “[The bill is] a one-sided incomplete bill that will focus solely on rider enforcement as a deterrent” and it, “does not in any way address the need for youth education.” “Teens getting around town by e-bike instead of a car builds on the potential for a generation of kids to envision a life getting around in something other than single occupancy cars,” Stevens added.

Cameron Bennett, a Portland State University graduate who wrote his Civil Engineering masters thesis on e-bike use in North America is neutral on the bill. In written testimony, he shared the same concerns as The Street Trust and said the bill as written leaves out a key provision: that Class 2 e-bikes should be required by to have pedals. Bennett also thinks if e-bikes are going to be classified, there needs to be a cargo bike class for freight delivery vehicles.

Iannarone, Stevens, and Bennett want to further discuss these and other issues in the new task force that HB 4067 would create, and then make any necessary changes to e-bike laws at subsequent legislative sessions.

But others want change now and feel HB 4103 should pass.

Brian Potwin, executive director of Commute Options, a nonprofit that promotes alternatives to driving, said in written testimony, “HB 4103 increases student access to e-bikes for their travel needs. We believe these bills will support our community’s efforts to encourage bike riding by adding enforcement to our engineering, education, and encouragement programs.”

And testimony submitted to the legislature ahead of tonight’s hearing from Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler, states that she supports HB 4103 because it, “limits acceleration rates,” of young riders and “simplifies operations.”

Trenton Burger’s father David Burger has also shared his support of the bill. In a letter to transportation committee chairs, he wrote, “Regulating e-bikes in a way that makes sense age-wise is an appropriate next step… We want parents, children and community to know that this law can’t change what has already happened, but could serve in adjusting the culture and awareness around e-bike risks and contribute to safer use of e-bikes.”

The bill is up for a public hearing today at 5:00 pm.


— Note: I’ve asked Rep. Levy for comment and will update this post when/if I hear back.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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SD
SD
5 months ago

If Representative Emerson Levy and other legislators that support this bill do not also put forward legislation to limit car and truck speeds, like has been done in California, then they are deeply unserious about road safety and they are exploiting a tragedy for political gain.
https://sf.streetsblog.org/2024/01/24/s-f-senator-scott-wiener-intros-bill-to-limit-cap-speeds-of-new-cars

mperham
5 months ago
Reply to  SD

Exactly. Trenton was killed by a driver going too fast in a slip lane, which are known to be dangerous design to bike/peds. Why not a bill banning slip lanes?

Nick
Nick
5 months ago
Reply to  mperham

Because you can score some easy political points this way and be seen to “be doing something” related to something that happened in your community.

Liz
Liz
5 months ago
Reply to  mperham

Right?! My exact thoughts. As usual politicians don’t want to actually solve problems, they want to do the easy thing that doesn’t really help the community.

jakeco969
jakeco969
5 months ago

I just don’t understand. A minivan killed the teenager, and the resulting legislation targets electric bicycles? Am I understanding things correctly?
I’m glad the Street Trust is against this, and I’m also glad they left the traditional equity arguments out of their official statement which I thought was very clean, powerful, inclusive and focused on a truer equity of everyone should have personal safety while outside a motor vehicle. I’m also very glad they identified the actual culprit that HB4103 should be addressing,

“… the true threat on our streets – motor vehicle operators behaving dangerously.”

BB
BB
5 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Attempting to clarify the laws for e-bikes is “targeting” them?
I don’t think kids under 16 need throttles on their bikes or even need e-bikes.
If the Street Trust thinks the roads are unsafe (and they are), why do they want children (there is no limit in age), riding around the streets at 20mph with throttle’s?

BB
BB
5 months ago

What do you think about 10 year olds riding 20mph without pedaling on city streets?
Thats the issue here, Of course there should be car legislation, but bringing it up in regards to this bill is just gaslighting.

Nick
Nick
5 months ago
Reply to  BB

20 mph without pedaling

That’s already possible, I did this regularly as a kid, find a moderate to decent hill, tuck yourself up small and hang on.

Lonnie payton
Lonnie payton
5 months ago
Reply to  Nick

Give me a break some one said cargo bikes need their own class so they would could be punished with more red tape.they just want to screw the guys or gals making a few bucks doing door dash delivery or something to that nature…

John V
John V
5 months ago
Reply to  BB

Why does it matter if they pedal or not? This argument has always struck me as bizarre gatekeeping. If it takes them to speed unattainable by most humans, there may be a point. But 20 isn’t unattainable, so the argument sounds like “you should only go that fast if you’re at a certain level of fitness”, and that just doesn’t sit right with me.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago

this bill further regulates bikes and restricts access to bikes

By allowing more people to ride e-bikes than is currently the case, I think it does the opposite.

BB
BB
5 months ago

So your only real objection is the throttle?
What does a bill that clarifies that anyone younger than 15 can ride an e-bike but can’t have a throttle have anything to do with lowering access?
Isn’t this just a knee jerk reaction?

Watts
Watts
5 months ago

This bill does not “go up against teens and bikes”. It just doesn’t. Older teens would be unaffected, while younger teens would be permitted to ride bikes they currently can’t, while adding no new restrictions.

No one can point to anything in the bill is actually bad, or how we’d be any better off if it didn’t pass.

BB
BB
5 months ago

Young bicycle riders (under 15) can be ticketed today for riding an e-bike. They can be targeted now.
You literally seem to not understand the bill or do not think people under 16 should be allowed to ride e-bikes because that is the current law and by not passing this bill that will continue to be the law.
Fine with me, I agree with you.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago

When you have such a significant change in law so quickly after one death

These changes strike me as pretty minor.

This bill would create a new misdemeanor traffic offense that could end up in young bicycle riders being unfairly targeted by law enforcement. I think that’s not a great way to solve the problem.

It’s already illegal to ride an e-bike on the sidewalk so while there is a new law, it doesn’t make any currently legal behavior illegal.

You write below that part of the problem is that the new rules are clearer. Clearer laws are unambiguously good if you are concerned with police abusing their authority.

I think the real problem here is the framing of the bill, not what it actually does. You don’t like that it has been presented as a response to a terrible crash, something I don’t like either. But the framing isn’t nearly as important as what’s actually in the bill, which is pretty much all good.

Iconyms
Iconyms
5 months ago
Reply to  BB

Why so hung up on a throttle? Have you seen the Stacyc ebikes? Kids love those they have throttles, let parents decide what is right for their kids.

jakeco969
jakeco969
5 months ago
Reply to  BB

Yes, it is targeting e-bikes when it should be going after the actual deadly weapon involved in the death. I had a drivers learners permit at 15 and could drive a car/truck wherever I wanted. It’s ridiculous to say an e-bike that can go 20 mph is somehow intrinsically more dangerous than a car, a scooter, a dirt bike or any other thing that might propel a young person faster than 20mph. Its even not that fast for a strong rider (even a teenager) on a bicycle, let alone going down hill.
Also, I have a hard time imagining that kids are plunking down that kind of money on an ebike themselves so can only assume parents or other parental types are providing and can mentor as to what the limits could be.
Children all over the industrialized world go to work in horrid conditions every day and they are very capable. I think children here in the states will be okay having access to ebikes.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

It’s ridiculous to say an e-bike that can go 20 mph is somehow intrinsically more dangerous than a car

I agree that’s a ridiculous thing to say. How is this bill saying that?

jakeco969
jakeco969
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

For one I was responding to BB’s statement on speed and age (Jonathan’s comments kind of kicked my response down the page a bit), but as far as the bill goes it is saying the 20mph on an ebike is more dangerous than in a car because it is legislating that speed and making it illegal to go faster. At 15 I can go as fast as I want in a car legally (as long as I maintain the speed limit, LOL) and there is no bill against that no matter how many teenagers die behind the wheel.
Now we have one teen killed by a car and it’s time to restrict teen access to ebikes of all things.

BB
BB
5 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

How does this bill restrict access to e-bikes for teens?
16-18 year olds can ride anything that is manufactured, under 15 years of age can ride class 1 e-bikes.
We have age laws on all kinds of products. It’s pretty clear you didn’t read or understand this simple bill.
It codifies E-bike use for kids.

qqq
qqq
5 months ago
Reply to  BB

It IS targeting e-bikes when it’s being portrayed by its supporters as a response to a crash and death in which an e-bike was only one of several factors involved, and not even necessarily a relevant one.

It wouldn’t be targeting if the response to the crash was a bill that also addressed some of the other factors.

That’s not taking any position on whether the proposed rules make sense, just commenting that it definitely is targeting e-bikes, because the bill doesn’t address ANY other factors that may have been relevant.

BB
BB
5 months ago
Reply to  qqq

It’s a bill about E-bikes, perhaps they address the war in Gaza or something else?
I don’t understand the complaints, it a bill about E-bikes in response to a death of a child riding an e-bike and the father of the dead child supports the bill.
If someone wants to sponsor and put forth a bill regulating automobiles, they can.
Why is putting a bill forth to address one issue have to address multiple ones?

SD
SD
5 months ago
Reply to  BB

The issue that is important here is safe access to transportation for vulnerable users. This bill uses that important issue as a background for political theater. This “low hanging fruit” legislation is low hanging because it manipulates a large uninformed constituency into believing they are solving a problem by targeting a small relatively powerless constituency.

As lawmakers, they should be looking for solutions that actually address real problems, not waving around performative laws named after children. And, the fact that they are not “putting forth bills” that actually make roads safer, but doing this instead is incredibly frustrating and shows how little they actually care about root causes.

qqq
qqq
5 months ago
Reply to  BB

Yes, exactly. You’re saying it doesn’t target e-bikes, then everything you just said backs up that it targets e-bikes.

Of course, someone can sponsor a bill regulating autos. That bill would be targeting autos.

Nobody said a bill to address one issue has to address many. But if you DO sponsor a bill to address one issue, that bill is targeting that issue. That’s what targeting means.

Whether some particular person supports or opposes this e-bike bill, or whether it has merit or not, is irrelevant to whether it targets e-bikes. It only addresses e-bikes, so it targets them.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  qqq

This bill literally removes restrictions on who can legally ride e-bikes. So perhaps it targets them, but does so by making it legal for more people to ride them.

qqq
qqq
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Yes, and I think that’s good.

Fred
Fred
5 months ago
Reply to  BB

I don’t understand the complaints, it a bill about E-bikes in response to a death of a child riding an e-bike

How would this bill prevent a similar crash to the one that killed Trenton? Isn’t it just as likely that another kid could be riding any type of bike – not even an e-bike – on the sidewalk and enter a crosswalk in a slip lane and be hit by a car entering the slip lane? Slip lanes are inherently dangerous to any road-user who is outside of a car and should be eliminated or re-designed.

What seems much more likely here is that Rep. Levy heard her constituents’ complaints that “Allowing kids to ride around on electric motorcycles seems really dangerous.” Then Trenton was killed while riding one and – voila! – the legislator saw an opportunity to seem as though she’s responding to her constituents’ concerns.

I’ve been saying for a while that so-called e-bikes (they are really electric motorcycles) need a whole new regulation regime. But this bill ain’t it.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred

How would this bill prevent a similar crash to the one that killed Trenton?

Like most bills, it would not.

SD
SD
5 months ago
Reply to  BB

Throttles appear to be a distraction in this conversation and bill. What is the difference between 20 mph by pedaling and 20 mph by throttle? The acceleration and the physical effort from the individual can be independent of the mechanism and highly variable between eBikes. Some eBikes on the highest assist level essentially have foot throttles, that require barely any effort. Is it just because the throttle idea is captivating for people who haven’t ridden many eBikes?

Iconyms
Iconyms
5 months ago
Reply to  BB

A lot of areas are perfectly safe for kids, like the protected bike lanes. Speed isn’t some automatic bad thing, sometimes going faster to reduce speed differentials is safer too.

Many kids ride dirt bikes that can go 50+ mph so why not ebikes?

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
5 months ago

Restrict cars not bikes. Limit the things that kill people not the vehicles of the victims. This is 1920’s jaywalking laws criminalizing pedestrians all over again but for bikes

Watts
Watts
5 months ago

This bill would:

  1. Standardize e-bike classifications
  2. Add a new traffic violation for unsafe riding of an e-bike
  3. Allow kids under 16 to ride class 1 e-bikes, which is illegal today

Why is this bad?

BB
BB
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I assume it’s because they did not read the bill or even the article.
It doesn’t address every car violation on the planet so it’s bad or something…
jay walking or something something….child labor laws or something something.
Its just a fairly simple bill about E-bikes., it’s not trying to address every issue in transportation so it sucks…
If the father of the child who got killed thinks some further clarifications for E-bikes may help with safety why is that upsetting this crowd?

jakeco969
jakeco969
5 months ago
Reply to  BB

f the father of the child who got killed thinks some further clarifications for E-bikes may help with safety why is that upsetting this crowd?

I don’t agree that using the father twice now as an example of the moral purity of the crowd seeking to scapegoat ebikes rather than the vehicle that killed the teenager is as you’ve stated it. To me it reads as the father is doing his best to absolve himself of whatever guilt he feels by providing the ebike to his son by blaming his death on the ebike rather than the minivan or the layout of the crossing. The ebike is a low hanging fruit to ban for teens and maybe that will help him feel better. Perhaps legislation clarifying ebikes is needed, but that clarification doesn’t need to be bundled into a HB whose original goal is to restrict access.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago

I always try to understand the reasoning behind different opinions; in this case I’m truly bewildered.

This bill clarifies the law and expands access to bikes. No one has made the case that there is anything bad in this bill, or why we’re better off with the status quo. The most clearly articulated argument against it is that it doesn’t restrict driving, which most bills don’t do.

I am honestly perplexed.

qqq
qqq
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

What I pick up from several comments–which also match my own feelings–isn’t so much that people feel there are problems with what’s being proposed (although some do mention concerns such as misgivings about the new traffic violation being created) but that they’re disappointed and/or angry that this is what lawmakers are offering as a response to the crash that killed someone.

I remember when this death was first reported, and people commenting pessimistically that they didn’t expect anything to happen other than creation of some new e-bike regulations, with nothing to address infrastructure, driving or anything else And that’s exactly what did happen with this bill.

Of course passing this bill (which does sound generally reasonable to me) doesn’t mean that this is the end of legislation addressing other factors that may have been involved in this death. But when it’s apparently being referred to as “Trenton’s Law” it makes me feel like many legislators may feel they can cross this one off their list as being a completed response.

To me, it’s as if this crash happened at night, so lawmakers responded with curfew law regulations and clarifications, and then named them “Trenton’s Curfew”.

Serenity
Serenity
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

This bill doesn’t “clarify the law and expand access to bikes,” it creates classes of e-bikes.

jakeco969
jakeco969
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts
  1. Honestly, why have various ebike classifications? Who does that help except the people who are eager to ban certain classes of people from attempting to exist without a car.
  2. The offense, unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk, is a Class D traffic violation ORS 814.410. I imagine you already know this and that  “unsafe electric assisted bicycle riding” will also be a Class D. So why would you be eager for something so vague and begging for targeted harassment as “unsafe bicycle riding” wherever you are?
  3. If it’s an altruistic bill, they could just add under 16 to ride class 1ebikes and everyone would be happy at a solid biking victory.
Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

We already have e-bike classifications, and all this bill does is make them compatible with those used by other states. This feels administrative, and seems somewhere between neutral and good.

It is already illegal to operate an e-bike on the sidewalk in a safe or unsafe manner. This new bill doesn’t make any currently legal behavior illegal.

(Call me crazy, but I don’t think motorized vehicles (with the exception of low-speed mobility devices) should be permitted on the sidewalk at all.)

If it’s an altruistic bill, they could just add under 16 to ride class 1 ebikes and everyone would be happy at a solid biking victory.

That’s all it does, along with standardizing an already existing group of classifications. The only substantial change is allowing under 16 to ride class 1 ebikes. It’s an altruistic bill, a solid biking victory!

Take the win!

John S.
John S.
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Seems to me everybody is arguing about #4, but won’t even mention it:

4. Create a new Class D misdemeanor traffic violation of “unsafe electric assisted bicycle riding” punishable by $115 maximum fine.

I do not like that part. Why should I get fined for doing something that is unsafe for me, but does not endanger others? Other than riding too fast on crowded sidewalks, who is being endangered? Certainly not the people in two ton armored vehicles!

Who gets to decide what is “safe” and what is not? Riding in the rain or snow? That’s not safe! Trail riding? That’s not safe! Really, riding a bike AT ALL is not safe – ever had the front tire wash out on leaves or sand, or clip a curb and have the bike swept out from under you? The police need to give $100+ fines to very single bike rider they see!!

Kids are going to do dangerous stuff, and learn “through the school of hard knocks”. It is part of growing up. Targeting only e-bikes for such behavior will only strengthen the near monopoly of driving SUVs for transportation.

Thanks for letting me rant….

dw
dw
5 months ago

The ebike regulation I really want to see is batteries and chargers. Unfortunately, those “affordable” e-bikes are often -in addition to being poorly built bikes – equipped with dangerous and unreliable batteries.

This bill is a dumb reaction to the real problem; distracted and inattentive drivers on dangerous infrastructure that encourages reckless behavior.

CathiBeaStevenson
CathiBeaStevenson
5 months ago

Why aren’t the multi passenger vehicles getting more restrictions?

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
5 months ago

Perhaps this bill(s) need to be rewritten more holistically [broader] to include the exiting focus on e-bikes PLUS similar speed capping (geofenced) of motor vehicles in urban areas (to be geographically defined by x y z) …

Erik
Erik
5 months ago

Interesting discussion, thanks everyone for sharing your perspective. I’ve learned a lot reading these comments, so keep them up! I find it fascinating that I kind of agree with every perspective voiced so far in this comment thread. I see the benefit of standardizing the e-bike classes. I used to ride a Gazelle Innergy that was considered a Class 1 e-bike because it had no throttle. I was told that this setup was to conform to Dutch bike laws regulating the speeds of e-bikes. I also see the benefit in opening up non-throttle bikes to more users. I find them very safe because they are designed to assist you without turning the bike into a motorcycle, so they really feel like bikes to me still. I also don’t see a problem with a narrowly-focused bill that doesn’t have a lot of additional elements to it. If anything all bills should pass that way, part of the reason “rider” gets a bad rap in the legislature. I also agree that this is targeting e-bikes too much based on that unfortunate incident mainly because there is no proposed bill that is trying to eliminate slip lanes where they don’t need to be. Slip lanes are death traps for pedestrians and bikes, and is likely the primary reason for this incident, not the fact that the victim was on an e-bike. Looking forward to following this issue further. Thanks Jonathan for writing so eloquently about this important topic. Take care 🙂

BethH
5 months ago

I was going to say something clever here about The Street Trust choosing to play a shorter game, taking smaller, more measured steps to get whatever it is they want. (Because it’s not exactly clear what their vision is, other than to play nicely with the lawmakers in carefully measured baby steps that reduce car use by 1.6 cars per quarter while remaining employed as lobbyists. Their vision thing just isn’t clear enough for me to get without geeking out on a lot of copy. Sorry, but there it is.)

But then I realized how futile it all is.

I am deeply sorry for the Burgers’ loss of their son. To outlive your child is simply horrible.

And — because I can hold opposing Ideas in tension — I am also sorry that we are spending time and resources playing this shorter game with e-bike laws because no one seems able to do the heavier lifting required to help evolve our society away from automotive dependency before we burn up the planet.
We think that’s a much longer game, and once upon a time it might have been.
E-bikes won’t save the world, anymore than e-cars could.
We’re running out of time for baby steps, and I honestly don’t think enough people in the world believe that to actually make the difference in the end.

Sorry to be a downer. But if we don’t do something to address the dinosaurs in suits who own the world right now, all the traffic laws in the world won’t help us.

Jim Calhoon
Jim Calhoon
5 months ago

I will throw my 2 cents into the mix. First any 2 wheeled vehicle with a throttle and no pedals should be classified as a motorcycle. I also believe that no able-bodied child or teen under 16 needs an e-bike. If there is a medical reason a child can’t ride a standard bike, I think that could be addressed and allowed. Any child that thinks they cant ride bike unless it has electrification is just being lazy. Maybe its time to put the phone down, get of the couch and get out and learn the about the joys of bike riding. I started my own children on bikes at a early age and even now that there 30 and 28 there still avid bike riders. No electric assist was needed. With that said I can support this bill but would like to see a requirement that pedals be part of each classification. This bill is not perfect, but what legislation is. Oregon aligning it’s definition of what a e-bike is with other states brings us closer to what we really need. One standard across all states. This new law will not address any parent buying their teen or child a so called e-bike on-line that can go much faster than the proposed class III. To me this could be as dangerous as a parent turning over the keys to a supercharged muscle car costing 80k plus to a young driver. Jonathan you called out the use of a Hemi muscle car by 15 and 16 year old’s. What about the many electric cars that are cheaper and heaver that have sub 5 second 0-60 time. Is this acceptable because its going green.

SD
SD
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Calhoon

Call it what you want, but a motorcycle that maxes out at 20 mph and weighs 10x less than standard motorcycle is more like a bicycle than a motorcycle in all of the ways that matter for the safety of the rider and the public.

But I understand where you coming from. Many people think of bicycles as children’s toys that are meant primarily for recreation, because that it their personal life experience. However, if you realize that ebikes are car replacements rather than bike replacements, then you may see how important this mode is for 15 and 16 year olds. It is safer for everyone if they ride an ebike rather than drive a car. It is also a cheaper way to get to school and work.

For some youth the e-assist makes biking an option, just like it does for adults. These youth need safe streets to ride on. Rep Levy and others in the state legislature, especially on the transportation committee, are failing to deliver safe streets.

BB
BB
5 months ago
Reply to  SD

So you like the current law which allows police to ticket 15 year olds for riding an e-bike?
Because that is the law which apparently you don’t want changed.
You all make my head spin.
You won’t take Yes for an answer waiting for all the other transportation issues to be solved first.

SD
SD
5 months ago
Reply to  BB

When faced with children dying on dangerous roads, these legislators have chosen to do something inconsequential and pretend that they have done something meaningful. You can applaud them if you like, or say “what is the big deal, you people, this is just an administrative fix.”

My perspective is that they have the opportunity to change predictable deadly outcomes and they didn’t. Doing nothing isn’t neutral, it is a harmful waste of time.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Calhoon

I can’t tell if this is satire

Jim Calhoon
Jim Calhoon
5 months ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

No satire. My opinions, the full 2 cents worth.

Iconyms
Iconyms
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Calhoon

So you really think a Stacyc made for 4 year olds should be classified as a motorcycle?

Jim Calhoon
Jim Calhoon
5 months ago
Reply to  Iconyms

The Stacyc electric balance bike sold by Cycle Gear a motorcycle gear and accessory retailer. I also found other electric balance bikes marketed by the likes of Harley Davidson, KTM, Honda, Kawasaki. Now in the many pictures of these with kids riding them it was clear the marketing was introduction to the world of dirt bikes (off-road motorcycles). And it may shock you that I don’t have a problem with this. In the pictures the kids were riding on dirt tracks not the streets. They were were wearing proper protective gear including full-face helmets. If your the person that enjoys riding dirt bikes in OHV areas or motocross tracks and want to introduce your 4 year old to this sport go right ahead. Now lets talk about the 100’s of electric balance bikes not associated with motorcycle manufactures and retailers. If leaching your child to ride a bicycle why do you need a $799.00 electric balance bike. What’s wrong with using say a Strider Balance Bike. Or like millions of other kids who learned on a bike with pedals and training wheels.

Back to your question of if they should be classified as a motorcycle.

From Webster’s Dictionary

bicyclenounbi·​cy·​cle ˈbī-si-kəl  -ˌsi-,  also  -ˌsī-

a vehicle with two wheels tandem, handlebars for steering, a saddle seat, and pedals by which it is propelled

motorcycle
noun
mo·​tor·​cy·​cle ˈmōt-ər-ˌsī-kəl 
a motorized vehicle for one or two passengers that has two wheels

BethH
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Calhoon

I just read “electric balance bikes” and feel like I lost the plot.
Sorry, but if that’s not satire then we have an even bigger problem here.

Iconyms
Iconyms
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Calhoon

Stacyc is no way suited for OHV riding areas, they don’t even have suspension and they aren’t marketed that way. Even the picture in the dirt here is on a bicycle track (where they sometimes have events)

https://stacyc.com/collections/bike-filtering-by-age-3-5/products/12edrive

Definitions change, and are just what we make of them, just look at electric scooters. Seems like with your approach I’m guessing you consider power wheels electric cars that should not be able to be used in public parks and should be driven on the street by 16+ year olds? lol

Al Dimond
5 months ago

There’s this thing in here about what technology allows and what technology requires. Some of us remember a childhood where we could easily bike or walk to get around independently… some of us don’t… it’s both about when we grew up and where. For my part I’m somewhere in the middle. As I got up through high school I was able to get around more of my suburb by biking, but I also developed more needs to travel beyond easy biking range, and also to destinations where non-car access wasn’t even an afterthought. That’s the suburbs for ya. The two cars in everyone’s driveway (at least as we perceived it) made that kind of lifestyle possible, and that, in turn, made it feel obligatory.

In the world of the car everything has been going up for over a century. The cars get faster, the cars get bigger, the cars add more safety features to compensate for the greater speed and bulk. The roads get bigger to add safety margins between the bigger, faster cars. Rinse and repeat. Normal people not only feel like they need to have the cars to manage their obligatory travel needs but that they need four-wheel-drive because nobody’s going to excuse their absence on the one or two snow days every year. Of course they’re encouraged to feel that way by marketing that exploits their fears of not keeping up or not keeping their kids up.

The obligation to drive to achieve full participation in the car-dominated world took freedom from kids. In families that could afford it they clawed it back at age 16 with driver’s licenses. Safety concerns saw kids’ driving privileges scaled back. Now we have, with e-bikes, the freedom to travel greater distances becoming possible again, but mostly surrounded by ever-bigger and ever-faster cars in ever-more-hostile environments.

It’s true that kids can hurt themselves without e-bikes, without wheels even. Also true that additional speed can multiply danger. Also true that in many scenarios around cars the critical speed isn’t carried by the bike. Teens, pre-teens, kids, need some ability to get around independently — I think it’s an important part of learning to live in a free society. That’s never going to be safe if they’re obligated to navigate the extremes of today’s car-world by any method. I can’t stand on any firm principle for or against e-bike regulations for kids, or for anyone else, that comes out of the US west coast. The only thing that’s really clear is that we need a better public realm in all our cities, towns, and suburbs, where we don’t have to go out on the highway for everything, where we can rely on public transit for trips where our legs won’t carry us. If we do that we’ll be able to see where e-bike speed causes real problems. If we don’t do that, every time we try to work at e-bike regulation we’ll flail around blindly because everything else is drowned out by car considerations.

Barrett
Barrett
5 months ago

Limiting ebikes for kids strikes me as the government getting in the way of parents knowing what’s best for their kids. I mean it’s not like these kids on ebikes are generally killing other people (like 12 year olds driving cars might). They are often putting themselves at risk and in my opinion it should be up to parents to balance their kids and risk. Many kids with the right training and experience can learn to ride ebikes safely in the right situations and ebikes can open up a new world for kids. Imagine you want to go on a family 40 mile bike trail ride with you 8 year old, having an ebike can the difference if that kid can make the right or end up having to be sitting on the back of another bike the whole time.

Look at the stacyc ebikes with a throttle and no pedals, they are great for kids and I think it would be a huge shame to crack down on those.

There are lots of dangerous activities for kids, football, motocross, skiing, rock climbing and we leave it to the parents to know their own kids and balance the risk in all these other areas. Why crack down on ebikes for kids?

Watts
Watts
5 months ago

As sometimes happens, I now regret entering into a conversation about a law relying only on summaries and other commenters’ characterizations of those summaries. The bill itself is very simple, making some modifications to existing vehicle law, and is different than what I understood from the article and discussion here.

Rather than provide my own summary, if you still care about this issue, I’d encourage you to read the bill for yourself at the link below. Stuff in bold is added, to existing law, stuff in bracketed italics is removed. The modifications are not long, and are pretty easy to understand.

Many of the comments here, including my own, are about an imagined bill, not the one that was actually introduced.

I apologize for not doing the required reading.

https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2024R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB4103/Introduced

X
X
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Thank you Watts. I also was relying on the summary rather than the actual bill. If it were 2015 I’d be advocating for no throttles, and motors sized for 350 watts of output. Too late for that.

‘Trenton’s Law’ should remove the possibility that a motor vehicle operator could accelerate to their right through a crosswalk while looking to their left.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  X

‘Trenton’s Law’ should…

I’ve realized that one difference I have with (seemingly) everyone is I’m just interested in what the law does, while (seemingly) everyone else is hung up on the bill’s name. In the end, the name does nothing, and while I am generally suspicious of any law named after a person, I think you ultimately have to ignore that and consider what a law would do on its merits.

If people who have actually looked at the bill don’t like what it actually does, then I’m not going to argue with them.

I’m not opposed to it, but I’m going to guess a bill that would fund the removal of a very common sort of urban road geometry (which also results when two not-perpendicular streets merge) would be a fair bit more complex than these legislators were willing to undertake.

Barrett
Barrett
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Law is dumb in my opinion. Is there actually any data that a handle bar throttle vs the same electric power triggered by pedaling makes a safety difference? In my experience if anything the throttle feels safer – such as being stopped on an uphill and having to accelerate across a road quickly to avoid car traffic.

Further the laws wording has the same problem many of these do,
[(5) Is equipped with an electric motor that:] [(a) Has a power output of not more than 1,000 watts; and] [(b) Is incapable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of greater than 20 miles per hour on level ground.]

Electric motors don’t control how much power they output, that’s the motor controller and motor controllers are just software configured so in actuality most ebikes can be set however you want and you can even toggle outputs on the fly or with your cell phone. I don’t see how they can regulate this.

Dominic
Dominic
5 months ago

Pass the law, e-bikes will finally be cool.