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BPSA initiative seeks model e-bike legislation in California, New York

Published January 23, 2015

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association has launched an ambitious initiative to pass model electric bicycle legislation in California and New York.

The BPSA's e-bike committee, chaired by Currie Technology president and CEO Larry Pizzi, is seeking $300,000 from component suppliers, bike brands and retailers to underwrite the campaign. Pizzi said Thursday that the BPSA has already received $250,000 in pledges. He expects to meet the goal as a "few key industry players" commit to the campaign, and others increase their pledges.

In a letter to the industry, Pizzi noted that outdated, inconsistent state vehicle codes could hamper the emergence of the e-bike category.

"An antiquated and patchwork regulatory environment threatens consumer confidence, retailer acceptance, and could cause market disruption just as significant use begins to take off," Pizzi wrote.

The BPSA is organizing an e-bike advocacy summit in February where cycling advocates and industry representatives can fine-tune proposed legislation and work out disagreements before facing lawmakers.

Details on the date and location of the summit will be published here when they become available.

The BPSA has contracted with the California Bicycle Coalition and New York Bicycle Coalition, along with two lobbying firms, to push the model legislation in those states.

The funds will also pay for a part-time campaign coordinator to oversee the initiative.

The model legislation would create three classifications of e-bikes: pedal-assist bikes, like European pedelecs, where the motor provides power only while a cyclist is pedaling; throttle-assist bikes, which allow a rider to twist a motorcycle-type throttle for power even when not pedaling; and a new classification known as a speed pedelec.

The first two types of e-bikes would be restricted to a top motor-assisted speed of 20 miles an hour, while a speed pedelec could reach 28 miles an hour with motor assist.

The model legislation also would apply different restrictions on where each type of e-bike could be ridden. A standard pedal-assist bike, for example, could be ridden anywhere a regular bicycle can be ridden, while a speed pedelec would be restricted to streets or roadways, and to bike lanes that are adjacent to a roadway.

The proposal has drawn opposition for at least one e-bike brand. Don DiCostanzo, co-founder and CEO of Pedego Electric Bikes, said three classifications would be confusing to consumers and difficult for retailers to explain.

See Bicycle Retailer's Feb. 1 print issue for a full report on the BPSA e-bike initiative.

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