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Illinois becomes sixth state to adopt e-bike law

Published August 23, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (BRAIN) — Illinois has become the latest state to sign a new e-bike bill into law that designates a three-class system for electric bikes.

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The bill, SB 396, was first filed back in January, and finally passed both Illinois chambers and signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday.

The industry was careful to position the model e-bike legislation as a noncontroversial, nonpartisan issue. That is important in a state like Illinois, where the Democrat-controlled House and Senate have been engaged in a bitter two-year battle with Rauner over a state budget and taxes. That fight has slowed the progress of other Illinois legislation.

The bill passed the Illinois House with five dissenting votes, and the Senate with no opposition. Like its counterparts in other states, the Illinois measure creates three e-bike classifications.

Class 1 and 2 e-bikes can go no faster than 20 mph under electric assist, and Class 3 e-bikes can reach assisted speeds of up to 28 mph.

Class 1 and 3 bikes are pedal-assist only, while Class 2 bikes have throttles. The bill requires that these types of e-bikes be allowed wherever conventional bikes are allowed until local authorities prohibit them.

Illinois becomes the most populated state after California to adopt the classification system, which should help e-bike advocates as they work with legislatures in other states to adopt similar legislation. One of the industry's most important targets is New York state, where e-bike bills have repeatedly failed.

California, Utah, Arkansas, Tennessee and Colorado have all approved the e-bike classification system.

Other states are on the horizon with active e-bike bills in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin legislatures, according to PeopleForBikes.

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