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There is a certain sense of inevitability to e-bikes now.  Slowly, I'm beginning to see some positives.  I will never regard a vehicle that can propel itself with no pedaling at all as as a bicycle.  But I can accept pedal-assisted e-bikes as legit.  It seems that when the bikeshare bikes are electric and pedal-assisted, they are used a lot more frequently, which is overall a good thing.  And for sure, they can be great for older cyclists and people with some physical disabilities.  I do think they should be speed-restricted to lower speeds than they are.  There is no need for 25-mph e-bikes on bike paths and in bike lanes.  I guess that will eventually sort itself out somehow.  I still want to keep full-on scooters exclusively on the roads, and I'm still not bit on the two-wheeled scooters.  Maybe that will evolve as well.

E-bikes taking the lead

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Divvy is about to roll out 10,500 pedal assist e-bikes in Chicago. I believe their plan is to eventually replace all of their traditional pedal bikes with e-bikes. 

They are speed restricted to 18mph.

I think it's awesome and look forward to a less sweaty and slightly faster commute. 

Yep, I'm in my second "year" (March-November) of commuting by ebike, 8 mi each way. It's pedal assist. I take it easy when I'm going to head straight into a meeting and tend to sweat on the way home. When I commuted by regular bike, the packing, changing, and washing up was such an ordeal that I only did it once a week. I love the ebike... I just wish the weather would cooperate and I didn't have to take public transit in the winter! This is the fifth year that my husband and I have been carless in Chicago.

The "speed" debate is a little tiring. I am with kitted men on the LFT all the time who are going >20 mph, as I occasionally did on my regular bike.   

I largely agree, but I think one difference is if a rider can do over 20 for a sustained amount of time on a traditional bike, they've earned that speed through experience most likely.  That means they're probably also an experienced rider in terms of holding a line, calling out turns and changes in pace, etc. 

The fear for an e-bike rider at that speed is an inexperienced person can just hop on one and instantly go over 20.


That said, I think 18 is a pretty good compromise, and I'm not really all that worried about people doing 18 on a pedal-assisted e-bike.  

So I was riding my e-bike on LFT a few days ago, and came upon a guy who was doing sprints at 30mph, all legs. I'd eventually catch back up to him, because that's not sustainable. But I was definitely impressed.

That being said, I have 40,000 miles of e-bike riding experience in the past 4 years. I can regularly sustain 20+ mph for 10+ miles when using my own legs in addition to the bike. I have never once gotten close to causing an accident on the LFT, because I know how to handle my bike.

Where do you draw the line when your reasoning is based on experience? Should I be able to go 30+mph? Should I be limited to 15mph just because I'm on an e-bike (meanwhile, the other guy is doing 30+mph without electric)?

I draw the line at the same place the City has already decided to draw the line by statute for e-bikes on paths and in bike lanes, which is 20 mph (I mistakenly thought it was 18).  I have no doubt you could operate your e-bike extremely safely above that speed, and very likely in even a safer manner than a Lakefront Lance that things it's a good idea to do high intensity 30 mph sprint workouts on the LFT, but I think the basis for the cap is valid.  And part of that basis is anyone can get on a Class-3 e-bike and instantly go 30 mph, whether they can operate the bike safely or not.  There's some inherent danger in that, and the City has the right IMHO to try and mitigate that danger by capping speeds on e-bikes.       

I just don't understand the big deal about experience here. I don't think it takes much to learn how to cycle safely at speed. 

Compared to when we're driving 2-ton metal-encased living rooms cars, cyclists have a huge incentive not to get into accidents. 

The real problem is variation in people's appetites for risk. Some people are clearly so into their PRs that they don't follow or pass at safe distances. I'm guessing they won't be on ebikes.

I would support some kind of speed limit (like 25 mph) on the trail when others are near, but I suspect the main risks will still be people weaving around with their headphones in or who refuse to slow down when needed, i.e., who just don't care. Skill seems barely relevant.

We already factor in "experience" to other modes of transportation.  Traditional mopeds capped at 25 mph are allowed to be operated by people in most states without having to obtain a motorcycle license, with the thought being that they generally go slow enough that a novice can hop on and still control it.  Mopeds that can go over 25 mph and motorcycles require a special license, with the understanding that more experience if required from the start to properly operate them. 

The above are laws that have existed for decades.  Obtainable speed is recognized to have a relationship on how safe something is to operate mixed in with the public at large.  Not sure why e-bikes should be treated any differently in terms of classifying them by speed.  

So you would advocate that any cyclist, regardless of bike, should need to obtain a license to travel faster than, say, 18 mph? To prove that they're experienced enough to do so safely?

No.  I'd argue the City has a valid reason to cap e-bikes at 20 mph if they're going to use paths and bike lanes, as people going above that speed may present a danger, and I'm noting one of the factors that the City very likely considered when setting that standard is the idea that having inexperienced people be able to go on a mixed path and bicycle lanes on e-bikes on speeds up to 30 mph is kinda dangerous. 

No need for me to slip down the slippery slope with you. 

Maybe mopeds capped at 25 were or are allowed to be operated without a license, but were they allowed to go on designated bike paths? I don't care if ebikes go 25 on the streets.  I don't think they should be doing that on bike paths or multi-use paths.  To my recollection, those gas-powered mopeds you're talking about weren't allowed to do that in Illinois.  

If that's a reply aimed at me, I agree they weren't, which is exactly why I think e-bikes shouldn't be allowed to do so either.  To be clear, I support the lines the City has drawn, which is that Class 3 e-bikes (i.e., ones that go over 20) shouldn't be allowed in bike lanes and mixed use paths.    

We are generally on the same page. I might even limit even Class 1 ebikes to 15 mph if they're in bike lanes and on paths.  I guess we can live with 20 if we have to.


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