The New Kid in Town: E-Bike (electronic bike)

The E-Bike

Aventon Class 3 E-Bike available at Joy Machines Bike Shop Cleveland

It looks a lot like the traditional “muscle-powered” bike.

Fairdale traditional bike shown by Joy Machines Bike Shop owner Alex Nosse

The E-Bike is the fastest-growing bike market in the U.S. and—since exploding in popularity a few years ago (even before the pandemic)—they are appearing on our roads in greater numbers. Electronic bikes allow riders to climb hills with less effort, go faster, and extend trip lengths thus making commuting easier. E-Bikes also encourage people, especially those with physical limitations, to cycle more frequently…all good things for the riders and our environment.

What is an E-Bike?
E-Bikes are low-speed-limited bicycles with fully operable pedals, and electric motors less than 750 watts/1 horsepower which run on batteries. For the most part, under Ohio Law, they are defined and treated like traditional bicycles. Despite having motors, electronic bikes are explicitly excluded from Ohio’s definition of a motor vehicle and do not require a license, registration, or proof of insurance to operate, lending to their popularity.

How are E-Bikes classified in Ohio?
Class 1: provides motor assistance only when the rider is pedaling and stops assisting once the bike’s max speed of 20 mph is reached
Class 2: provides motor assistance without the rider pedaling and stops assisting once the bike’s max speed of 20 mph is reached
Class 3: provides motor assistance only when the rider is pedaling and stops assisting once the bike’s max speed of 28 mph is reached

Where can you ride an E-Bike in Ohio?
It depends on the classification.
Simply put, you can ride Class 1 and Class 2 E-Bikes wherever you legally ride a traditional bike. This includes the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) Towpath and Cleveland Metroparks all purpose trails. Reminder: E-Bikers need to stay off mountain bike, hiking, and equestrian trails. Also, the CVNP prohibits Class 2 E-Bikes operating in throttle mode on the Towpath.

Class 3 E-Bikes, because of their higher speeds, are reserved for the road and are not allowed on the bike or shared use paths including the Cleveland Metroparks all purpose trails and the Towpath.

More details on E-bikes on the towpath or Metroparks all purpose trails here: https://www.nps.gov/cuva/learn/management/superintendents-compendium.htm See also Cleveland Metroparks Code Section 373.01.

What motorists need to know about E-Bikes
E-Bikes are here to stay. According to an article published in Forbes in 2020, E-Bike popularity “will get hotter still, [the industry is] anticipating a “surge” from 2020-2023 with 130 million E-bikes to be sold”.

A Class 3 electronic bike can go as fast as a traditional elite road cyclist and gauging their speed can be tricky. For everyone’s well-being, it is imperative for motorists to realize that the bike they just passed may be an E-Bike moving at a higher speed than normally anticipated. To avoid crashes, motorists need to be aware and take this into consideration when passing E-Bikes—especially to avoid the right-hook bike crash if they intend to make a right-hand turn in front of the cyclist.

I have been representing more and more E-Bike riders who are hit by motorists misjudging their speed and violating the E-Bike riders’ right of way.

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.” – Ken

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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