You may not yet own an eBike but the Wisconsin Bike Fed is pushing your state legislature to define laws around their classification and use.
The Wisconsin Bike Fed wants to be sure eBikes positively impact our bicycling culture in Wisconsin, not become a divisive argument within it. We endorse LRB-0715/1 Regulation of Electronic Bicycles because it supports cyclists on eBikes using bike trails.
Background memo to LRB-0715/1 from the Sponsors of the bill, Representatives Mike Rohrkaste and Evan Goyke, and Senators Roger Roth and Fred Risser.
“Electric bicycles (“e-bikes”) are becoming increasingly popular in Wisconsin. E-bikes look almost identical to traditional bicycles, but they are equipped with small electric motors that provide extra power. E-bikes are particularly helpful for aging cyclists or cyclists with limited physical capacity, but they can be enjoyed by everyone.
Under current Wisconsin law, e-bikes are considered “motor bicycles”, which also include bicycles fitted with combustion engines, and also as “motor vehicles” in certain contexts. While Wisconsin’s bicycle laws generally apply to motor bicycles as well as traditional bicycles, motor bicycles (including e-bikes) are subject to other laws that do not apply to traditional bicycles. For example, operators of motor bicycles must have operator’s licenses, and motor bicycles may not be used on bike paths unless they are powered solely by their pedals.
LRB 0715 creates a separate category for e-bikes and eliminates many of the restrictions that currently apply to their use – in general, treating them more like traditional bicycles, although local governments and the Departments of Natural Resources and Transportation would have the authority to limit the engine-assisted use of e-bikes on bikeways under their jurisdiction by ordinance or administrative rule.
In addition, LRB 0715 recognizes a three-class system established by the e-bike industry so that they can be regulated more precisely. The classes are based on when the motor kicks in and the maximum speed at which the motor operates. For example, Class 1 and 2 e-bikes have a maximum engine-assisted speed of 20 MPH, while Class 3 e-bikes have a maximum engine-assisted speed of 28 MPH. LRB 0715 establishes a minimum age of 16 to operate a Class 3 e-bike, and Class 3 e-bikes must have speedometers. E-bike manufacturers and distributors would also have to label their products with the classification number, maximum engine-assisted speed, and the motor wattage.
Several states have enacted similar laws in recent years, including Illinois and Michigan. E-bikes can be a fun mode of alternative transportation, as well as a great way to keep Wisconsin residents active and healthy. Clear, consistent e-bike laws can also benefit the bicycle industry.”
The Wisconsin Bike Fed is working to keep you informed about Bicycle Legislation that affects you. If you have questions or comments about this bill, please comment below.