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California e-bike bill set for a hearing Monday as Pedego withdraws competing bill

Published April 27, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BRAIN) — A groundbreaking e-bike measure backed by an industry lobbying effort gets its first hearing Monday in the California legislature. The hearing comes after the sponsor of a competing bill, supported by Pedego Electric Bikes, agreed to drop his bill in favor of the other measure.

The hearing, before the Assembly Transportation Committee, is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. PDT. The e-bike bill, AB-1096, is not expected to be considered until fairly late in the hearing. The committee will stream the hearing online.

“I am glad that we won't have competing legislative efforts and I am extremely encouraged that we now have a common voice in Sacramento,” said Larry Pizzi of Currie Technologies, who chairs the e-bike committee of the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association.

The BPSA and PeopleForBikes are spending close to $300,000 to support the California bill, along with a measure in the New York legislature that would legalize e-bikes in that state.

Dave Snyder, executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition; Rob Kaplan of Currie Technologies; and Karen Wiener, co-owner of The New Wheel, a San Francisco e-bike retailer, were scheduled to testify in support of the bill.

AB-1096, sponsored by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, would create three classifications of e-bikes: Class 1 for pedal-assist bikes, or pedelecs; Class 2 for bikes with throttles; and Class 3 for “speed” pedelecs. Class 1 and 2 e-bikes would be limited to an assisted speed of 20 miles an hour, while a Class 3 bike could reach an assisted speed of 28 miles an hour.

The bill also defines where each type of e-bike could be ridden.

Class 1 bikes could go wherever traditional bikes are allowed, while Class 2 bikes would be limited to paved surfaces. Class 3 bikes would be restricted to roads or bikeways that are adjacent to a road.

In a nod to concerns from cities and counties, the measure allows local governments to opt out of allowing e-bikes on bike paths or trails.

Pedego, an e-bike brand based in Irvine, Calif., has been the lone dissenter within the industry and had backed a competing e-bike bill that would simply have brought California in line with the federal definition of e-bikes.

But on Friday, the sponsor of the Pedego bill dropped his measure in favor of AB-1096 and is expected to sign on to the other bill as a co-sponsor or joint author.

Don DiCostanzo, Pedego’s co-founder and CEO, had argued that the BPSA’s classification system was too complicated for customers and retailers.

On Friday, however, he called the decision to drop his bill and support Chiu’s measure a “win-win” for the industry. “Our interests will be represented in a single bill,” DiCostanzo said.

See the May 1 issue of Bicycle Retailer for more coverage of the e-bike legislative initiative.

Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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