Is it Time for Massachusetts to Legislate Electric Bicycles?
Electric bicycles are growing more and more popular by the day, and it has some Massachusetts residents wondering whether it's time to write up some laws that clarify exactly where and how they can and should be used.
I'll admit it, when we bought my son an e-bike for Christmas, I really wasn't sure what we were buying. He already had a battery-powered scooter, and I figured the e-bike was simply the bicycle version. Well, it turns out that it is and it isn't.
It's sort of in-between.
At first glance, the e-bike goes faster than I anticipated. When I first saw him zipping around our sleepy side street, I was nervous about letting him take the bike into an area that has more cars and people.
Then, I spoke with my brother-in-law, who is an avid cyclist, and he assured me that the e-bikes don't really go faster than a skilled cyclist out for a ride. However, the skilled cyclist built up his ability over time. My teenager is plopping himself onto an e-bike and heading off to share the road with drivers.
That is unsettling, to say the least.
The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, or MassBike, is pushing for legislation here in the Commonwealth. The coalition is concerned that the e-bikes are often viewed to be in the same category as a moped or scooter. E-bikes are not standard bicycles, nor are they run on gasoline-powered combustion engines. They fall within a gray area that MassBike is hoping to clarify at the state level.
One area of concern is whether or not e-bikes should be allowed on a bike path, like the one we have in Fairhaven and Mattapoisett. Interestingly enough, MassBike cited a study that says e-bike riders tend to travel faster than normal bicycles on roads, but slower than regular bike riders on bike paths.
With gas prices at record highs, more and more people aren't laughing when they are considering switching over to e-bikes as a serious mode of transportation during the warmer months.
What do you think? Is it time to get some legal clarification on e-bikes?