It’s been one year and one day since Portland hosted its last sanctioned, competitive cycling event. In many ways, 2020 was a lost season for local racers, but 2021 will look a lot different — not only because we are likely to emerge from the Covid cocoon, but because electric bikes will be welcomed into the racing scene for the first time.
In a statement today, Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Executive Director Chuck Kenlan announced that the 2021 season is already coming into focus. Weekly racing is slated to re-start in April and May’s schedule is filling up. “We are approaching the race season with caution and expect the earlier races to run using modified formats that follow the state guidance for outdoor recreation,” Kenlan shared. “Our plan is to work with promoters to help them make their races as safe as possible and still allow for a fun competition.”
Kenlan also said OBRA’s new liability insurance policy will cover events that include a category for “Class 1” electric bikes. [Read more…]
Electric bike sales are skyrocketing nationwide and Portland is doing its part to stoke the boom. Now a new partnership between local bike shops, Oregon’s electric vehicle advocacy group, and Portland’s largest employer will make it even easier for people to purchase one.
According to market research firm NPD Group, e-bike sales were up 84% in March, 92% in April, and 137% in May. It’s no surprise given how the bikes have evolved in recent years. When they first arrived on the scene they were clunky and mostly the realm of early adopters and garage-tinkerers. Then they trickled into local bike shops, but there were only a few brands, battery technology was subpar, and prices were relatively high for what you got. Lately the bikes have made massive leaps in quality and affordability and there are tons of great brands and models available.
“E-bikes are the future!” That’s what Portland mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone proclaimed at a forum earlier this week. Iannarone is bullish on e-bikes not just because she’s an expert on innovative transportation solutions (thanks in part to her work at First Stop Portland), but because she rides an e-bike herself.
Many that ride e-bikes quickly become evangelists like Iannarone and start using words like “transformational” and “revolution”.
Now a Portland State University research project wants to add more science to back up all the excitement. And they’re looking for subjects. [Read more…]
Last summer we stumbled upon an inconvenient truth about electric bike use in Oregon State Parks. It turned out that despite their popularity, it was illegal to operate e-bikes on State Park paths and trails.
Thankfully, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) acknowledged the outdated rules and the State Parks Commission recently approved new ones that explicitly permit e-bike use on their facilities.
Now it appears the City of Portland might have the same problem. [Read more…]
Last summer we threw a bit of cold water on the very hot trend of electric-assisted bicycles when we reported on the little-known fact that e-bikes were prohibited on paths and trails managed by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD).
At the time, OPRD acknowledged that they never intended to exclude e-bike riders from popular paths like the Historic Columbia River Highway and Banks-Vernonia Trail. The situation, they felt, was a matter of the law not keeping up with the times. Oregon’s vehicle code recognizes e-bikes as bicycles; but OPRD facilities are managed with Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) which didn’t mention e-bikes at all. This meant they fell into the category of “motor vehicles” and were managed as such.
In response to public pressure to address the issue, OPRD began the process to amend their rules last September. Today we confirmed with agency staff that the State Parks Commission has approved a rule change that explicitly allows electric-assisted bicycles on all paths and trails eight-feet and wider unless otherwise posted.
“Our forecasts predict that a 25% tariff will cause a 65-75% drop in sales as consumers postpone their purchases until sanity returns to our trade policies.”
— Wake Gregg, The eBike Store
In their ongoing effort to achieve more “fair and balanced” trade conditions with China, the Trump Administration has finalized a list of $16 billion worth of products that will be hit with a 25 percent tariff that will go into effect August 23rd.
Among those products are electric bicycles and e-bike motors. Bikes imported from China previously had no tariff. The tariff on motors will be 29 percent as the new tariff will be added to the existing one 4 percent. People for Bikes, a national bike industry advocacy group, fought the move, but has so far been unsuccessful.
This is bad news for the e-bike market. As we shared last week, sales of the pedal-assisted bikes have been a major bright spot for bike companies and retail shop owners. Here in Portland, we have a thriving e-bike scene and shop owners report brisk sales. There’s been a sense that — after years of challenges due to an educational and cultural bottleneck — the U.S. market for e-bikes had finally matured. And like many bike trends, Portland is at the tip of the spear.
Here are reactions to the new tariffs from three local shop owners: