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New York e-bike bill a good start but needs amendments, says PeopleForBikes

Published January 28, 2020

NEW YORK (BRAIN) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed legislation to make e-bikes legal throughout the state is promising but needs amendments, according to PeopleForBikes.

Morgan Lommele, PeopleForBikes' director of state and local policy, said the e-bike proposal for the upcoming budget is "a good starting point."

"We're working with our lobbyists in New York to discuss the budget language around e-bikes," Lommele said Monday. "Our main issues are a bad Class 3 definition, e-bikes being restricted from roads with a speed limit greater than 30 mph, unclear bike path rules, and operational restrictions for top speeds. We'd like to separate the 25 mph throttle e-bikes from the definition of a Class 3."

Unveiled Thursday, Cuomo's legislation defines Class 3 bikes as those with a throttle-activated motor (and allowed only in New York City) with a maximum speed of 25 mph before turning off.

PeopleForBikes and Bicycle Product Suppliers Association developed the three-motor classification standard in 2014. It defines Class 3 bikes as those providing assistance only when pedaling and turning off when reaching 28 mph, and Class 2 bikes as those with a throttle-activated motor turning off when reaching 20 mph.

Currently, only Class 1 pedal-assist e-bikes with a maximum speed of 20 mph are allowed in New York City.

Furthermore, PeopleForBikes recommends local governments be allowed to restrict, regulate or prohibit e-bikes in parks, paths and trails. Without any ordinances, it favors allowing Class 1 and Class 2 on paths and trails with Class 3 allowed only on roadways. Cuomo's bill doesn't specifically address bike paths but says e-bikes are allowed only on roadways 30 mph or less and bike lanes.

Cuomo's proposal gives local governments the right to establish additional regulations, including a lower maximum speed and banning e-bikes and e-scooters completely.

Lommele said PeopleForBikes will have the opportunity to submit revision recommendations in the next month. Cuomo said Thursday he would like to have the state legislature pass the bill as part of the state budget before the April 1 deadline.

"We might be able to get some changes out of the way before dealing with the legislature," Lommele said. "We're sending our desired revisions to the governor's staff."

On Dec. 26, Cuomo vetoed the state legislature's bill that would have given all classes of e-bikes the same rights of the road as traditional bicycles throughout the state. He cited the lack of a helmet requirement and other safety concerns for killing it. In his bill, Cuomo has a helmet requirement for Class 3 riders. The vetoed bill, passed over the summer by the state legislature, would have given local municipalities the right to regulate e-bikes at their discretion.

PeopleForBikes will submit revisions to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's e-bike legislation.
Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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