Massachusetts State House Introduces Bill to Regulate Electric Bikes – The Daily Free Press

A cyclist on Commonwealth Avenue. The Electric Bicycle Act, a bill intended to regulate and encourage the use of electric bicycles in Massachusetts, was referred to the state Senate Ways and Means Committee on April 4 and will introduce three new categories of electric bicycles. BAYLE VIGNES/DFP STAFF

A bill to regulate and encourage the use of e-bikes in Massachusetts was referred to the state Senate Ways and Means Committee on Monday.

State Rep. Steven Owens said “An Electric Bicycle Act” – the name of the bill – will define three new classes of electric bicycles.

“Every e-bike is classified as a motorized bicycle,” he said. “So that includes pedal-assist bikes, which only run the motor when you pedal at a maximum speed of 20 [miles per hour]you can’t go any faster than that.

Pedal assist bikes would be considered the first class of e-bikes. The second class covers e-bikes that provide assistance to riders even when the rider is not pedaling, but still only travel up to 20 mph. The final class includes e-bikes that only provide assistance to riders when pedaling, but allow the rider to reach up to 28 mph.

Owens – a sponsor of the House version of the bill – said the purpose of the legislation was to define “what is a bicycle and what is not” so that lawmakers can begin to open up the way to include more e-bikes in the city and reduce traffic pollution. .

“It’s important for us, if we’re going to meet our climate goals, to empower people to use cleaner transport,” Owens said. “And an e-bike is clean, it’s green, it’s an order of magnitude cheaper than an e-car and also takes up less space in traffic.”

Owens described the possibilities offered by e-bikes for commuters and businesses.

“I really think it’s a great solution for things like small deliveries, it’s a great solution for commuting, expanding the range of what’s switchable for riders,” Owens said. “I really hope we can enshrine that framework in law so we can have those conversations.”

Eliza Parad — the director of organization and operations for the Boston Cyclists Union who advocated for the bill — said e-bikes have become more popular during the pandemic.

“A lot of people who used to ride public transportation, commuter trains, longer trips over seven miles have switched to e-bikes,” Parad said.

Another bill — “An Electric Bicycle Rebate Act” — will also provide rebates of up to $750 to residents for the purchase of electric bicycles.

However, according to Owens, one issue is that since all e-bikes are currently classed as motorized bicycles and are therefore not permitted on cycle lanes and are subject to Motor Vehicle Registry licensing requirements, this can create barriers major for e-bike users.

Parad said it was “legally unclear” where e-bikes are currently allowed.

“[E-bike users] are currently cycling where there are already bikes, so bike lanes and bike lanes, but there is definitely some confusion there,” Parad said.

Tiffany Cogell – co-organizer of Ride for Black Lives Boston – said that as she looks forward to the bill’s passage, she wants lawmakers to be able to include language that would allow undocumented drivers and drivers disabled.

“Just like you can buy a regular bike and don’t have to worry about being regulated, I think that should be the case with e-bikes as well,” Cogell said.

Owens said pedestrian concerns about sharing paths with e-bikes cannot be resolved until there is a legal definition of what an e-bike is.

“Things like speed limits on these paths, or deciding that we want the simple e-bikes and the slower e-bikes but not the bigger cargo bikes, those are conversations we can have, but we can’t. not even start making those decisions until the e-bike classification is enshrined in law,” Owens said.

Parad said e-bikes will be more accessible if Boston’s Bluebikes fleet is expanded to include them.

“Bluebikes, which is the operator of Greater Boston’s bike share program, cannot add e-bikes to its fleet like New York, New Orleans and many other cities have in their bike share -service, which attracts a lot more people to cycling,” Parad said.

Owens said 46 other states have similar classifications in law and called Massachusetts “far behind” on e-bikes.

“The most important thing about this legislation is that it brings us into the 21st century of cycling,” Owens said.

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