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Will Colorado's expanded Right to Repair bill extend to e-bikes?

Published May 2, 2024

DENVER (BRAIN) — The Colorado General Assembly has passed an expanded Right to Repair bill that will include digital electronic equipment and require manufacturers to provide consumers with access to tools, parts, diagnostics, and software, but it's unclear if it will apply to e-bikes because motor vehicles are excluded.

The bill, which was sent to Gov. Jared Polis for his signature on Tuesday, covers household appliances, cellphones, and IT equipment. Exemptions include vessels, aviation, and medical devices other than powered wheelchairs.

Nathan Proctor, senior director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups Campaign for the Right to Repair, told BRAIN it will cover e-bikes. Matt Moore, PeopleForBikes' policy counsel, said it might not.

"While electric bicycles are generally not regarded as motor vehicles for purpose of their operation on public streets," Moore wrote in an email to BRAIN, "the broad definition of 'motor vehicle' in the Colorado bill defines a motor vehicle as 'a vehicle that is designed to transport individuals or property on a street or highway' if it is 'certified by a motor vehicle manufacturer under all applicable safety and emission standards' and 'all requirements for the distribution and sale of motor vehicles in the United States.'

"It is our position that low-speed electric bicycles and bicycles with electronic components that are required to be certified for compliance with all applicable federal standards in 16 CFR 1512 meet this definition. Certain other e-mobility devices that have no applicable regulatory standards would likely be subject to the bill's requirements."

Moore said the final decision on whether e-bikes are included will be made either by the Colorado Attorney General or a state court. Colorado previously enacted a Right to Repair law for powered wheelchairs in 2022 and for agricultural equipment last year.

The concern over including e-bikes is because it opens the door for the possible rebuilding and repairing of lithium-ion batteries by consumers. When New York State's consumer electronics version of Right to Repair — the Digital Fair Act — was signed into law in December, it caught the attention of PeopleForBikes. With New York's growing concerns over lithium-ion battery fires, it wasn't clear at first if legislators would include e-bikes. After the bill was passed and signed into law, PeopleForBikes lobbied to have it amended to exclude e-bikes and lithium-ion batteries.

Reducing electronic waste, encouraging sustainability, and protecting consumer rights are at the core of the Right to Repair legislation. Some form of the legislation also has been enacted in New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Oregon. According to The Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG), repairing instead of replacing products when they break could save Coloradans $882 million per year, while reducing e-waste, the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. PIRG is state-based and citizen-funded and part of the The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports groups committed to social change.

Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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