REGULATING E-BIKES IN ABQ & GREATER NEW MEXICO
UPDATED: Monday July 31, 2023
ABQ City Council considering
20mph speed limits on multi-use paths.
July 31, 2023
Many of you have made the fabulous point with the Greater ABQ Active Transportation Committee (GAATC) and to your City Councilors that e-bikes and all bikes should be regulated by speed rather than the bike's components or capabilities.
For example: Porsche's can go from 0 to 60 in 4.2 seconds and ultimately reach 193mph like 887 raging horses, but we do not ban Porsche's from residential (or any) streets. We simply have speed limits for all the different car classes.
ABQ City Council is now considering speed limits on our multi-use paths -- with 20mph the likely limit. We believe this makes good sense for everyone's responsibility and safety regardless of what we're riding!
eBike Throttles, Speed & Changing Perceptions & Planning
EBIKES & THROTTLE SAFETY:
In both North American survey, 60% of e-bike owners said they felt safer riding their e-bike. Another 42% said their e-bike helped them avoid crashes. Stated reasons are: enough quick acceleration to clear an intersection, keeping pace with traffic, and improving self-balance at higher speeds.
Other studies in both the United States and Asia found that e-bike owners generally felt safer and tended to obey traffic rules (stopping at stop signs, hand signaling, alerting presence) compared to traditional riders. Participants noted that e-bikes boosted their confidence on portions of the route that interacted with traffic.
In the same studies, riders said the throttle made it easier to stop at stop signs because they did not have to worry about making drivers impatient. Other participants felt very comfortable riding an e-bike simply because of its flexibility to operate as a conventional bike.
A study that compared speeds of ebike (class-1 and class-2) and bicycle found e-bikes are slightly faster on roads, but are slower on shared-use paths.
Counter-intuitively, an observation study in Colorado found the average e-bike speed was less (13.8 mph) than the average conventional bike speed (14.5 mph). This may reflect the demographics of e-bike riders (based on research, e-bike riders are older, and thus perhaps more cautious and aware of their speeds given that most e-bikes have a speedometer).
CHANGING PERCEPTIONS & PLANNING:
A Common adverse reaction to e-bikes is their potentially increased speed makes other trails or street users feel unsafe. Yet evidence suggests that e-bikes change riders’ attention and perception of safety compared to traditional bikes.
The American Planning Association declared 2023 as “The Year of the Ebike.” At the core of the infrastructure planning is the notion of “Safety in Numbers”. When there’s an increase of pedestrians, cyclists, ebike riders, scooters and other micro-mobility, motorists take greater precautions driving more prudently. This reduces conflict points and improves safety for all users/travelers, thereby instituting a culture that promotes multi-modal transportation.
Don't Ban the Throttle!
Banning Class-2 eBikes would:
DISCRIMINATE AGAINST LOW-INCOME RESIDENTS
-- who cannot afford Class-1 ebikes with high-performance mid-drives.
DISCRIMINATE AGAINST ELDERLY RESIDENTS
-- who need a little help to just get started pedaling the heavier ebikes.
FORCE E-BIKES RIDERS ONTO MORE DANGEROUS STREETS
-- if not allowed to ride on protected bike paths.
Class-2 ebikes are:
MORE AFFORDABLE by $1000 or more.
-- Most Class-1 eBikes have high-performance Bosch mid-drive motor.
-- Most Class-3 eBikes have higher Motor Watts and/or Battery AmpHrs.
MOST ABUNDANT in sales & manufacturing in the U.S.
-- Most Class-1 eBikes have high-performance motor and/or design.
-- Most Class-3 eBikes are considered too beefy or too fast at 28mph.