A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts

by Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition
Play Video
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
A Bicyclist-Friendly Massachusetts
Aug 5, 2019

How do we get more butts on bikes? E-Bikes.

A rider testing out an e-bike at a demo day event
A rider testing out an e-bike at a demo day event

MassBike is all about getting more butts on bikes. And with the percentage of bike ridership throughout the commonwealth in the single digits, we need more people choosing to bike. So we are excited about a new type of rider out on our roads, paths, and trails -- the person on an e-bike with an electric motor.

There are plenty of riders out there who rely on electric-assist who otherwise wouldn’t bike. Maybe they’re recovering from an injury, or have aging legs, or want to keep up with their friends, or they need to travel longer distances, or have to ride over those damn hills, or need to get to work without being sweaty, or want to enjoy the woods without worsening a heart condition.

This emerging ridership is a good development, as e-bikes bring the same benefits we all know from “analog” biking; improving physical and mental health, forging a connection to the advocacy community, and getting folks out into open space. And, as each bike on the road is one less car out there, e-bikes help tackle the two biggest issues facing the commonwealth: our environmental crisis with greenhouse gas emissions and congestion on the roads.

Yet the bicycle advocacy community is struggling to figure out whether e-riders fit in the same space traditionally allocated to standard bikes. Based on valid concerns mainly due to speeding and shared path etiquette, we are seeing advocates suggest blanket prohibitions for e-bikes on pathways and trails, equating them with motorcycles and mopeds, which means relegating these emerging riders to the hazards of the roadways, which we know keeps 60% of those "concerned yet interested" riders from heading out on two-wheels. So it's our charge to mitigate those issues to keep access open for e-bike riders. At a recent hearing held by the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation on the issue, an attendee fighting Parkinson’s disease put it well by stating “this wouldn’t be a prohibition on bikes, it’s a prohibition on people.”

For all intents and purposes, most e-bikes are designed to ride just as any other bike -- albeit with a bit of a kick. To help everyone understand where on the spectrum e-bikes fit, MassBike has been hosting educational e-bike demo days. While these events were open to everyone but we’re specifically inviting land managers, policy makers, and advocates to help inform sensible regulations for where these bikes should and shouldn’t be allowed.

E-bike ridership is on the rise (they were the only segment in bicycle sales that increased in the last year…), yet our laws around e-bikes were written with mopeds and scooters in mind, before the widespread adoption of modern battery technology. So, one of the ways we’re looking to clarify the issue is to define e-bikes as their own class of device in MA General Law. We are suggesting Massachusetts use the three-class model which differentiates between speed and type of assist and requires the motors to stop assisting at 20MPH for the first and second class of device. This distinction is in place across the country in 22 states, with 16 others that regulate e-bikes as bicycles that can use bike infrastructure. That’s 38 states ahead of where we are and we need to catch up fast. For a more in-depth read of our proposals, read the rest of this update here.

In the end, MassBike's aim is to be welcoming and bring better bicycling for ALL riders. We realize it’s a controversial issue and you may not need electric assist for your riding, and that's fine. We're not expecting all riders to understand everybody's needs. But as current trends continue, we're going to see a lot more e-bikes out there and as an advocacy organization we certainly should not oppose e-bikes outright as that will just leave us out of the conversation. Instead we aim to get out ahead of the issue and make ourselves a leader here. There are places e-bikes should ride and places they shouldn’t. And as this is being worked out, your help and feedback is important.

I hope you can support MassBike in our efforts to craft sensible e-bike legislation and regulations, because, in the end, another rider is another butt on a bike.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Comments:

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition

Location: Boston, MA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @massbike
Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition
Edward Thomas
Project Leader:
Edward Thomas
Boston, MA United States

Retired Project!

This project is no longer accepting donations.
 

Still want to help?

Find another project in United States or in Education that needs your help.
Find a Project

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.