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I think we need to consider not just the bike v others problem, but whether getting people on power-assisted bikes can get them out of their cars. I'd rather older folks riding a 40 lb bike versus driving 4000lb cars.

How to balance this: thats hard. I don't want motorcycles zooming on the CCT. At the same time, if a power assist is what it takes to get grandpa out and riding, and its not going to go fast, he should be allowed on CCT.

It's great that we're having this conversation, in part because e-bikes (electric assist bikes that fit the definition in the relevant federal statute) are a great way to expand cycling, especially in our area.

I'm an avid bike commuter, but morning sickness, exacerbated by exertion, threatened to curtail my commuting during this pregnancy. Luckily, I have an ebike, which has allowed me to keep pedaling, now at 37 weeks.

My ebike is heavy and clunky, and even with the motor, doesn't go very fast. However, the motor does make it easier to start from a stop and get up hills. Because its easier to start from a stop, ebikes encourage safer riding -- it's less of a big deal to stop completely at the stop sign/stop light, to slow down that extra second until it's safe to pass someone on a trail, etc.

I'm fine with ebikes in bike lanes and on MUPs. I'm fine with speed limits on MUPs, in case some joker gets ideas about a super-powered ebike. Please get the scooters out of the bike lanes, though, even the low-powered ones. Bike lanes for pedaling only (including electric assist pedaling).

The problem is enforcement.

Right now e-bikes are distinctive enough, but in 5 years?

So, allow them into bike lanes but have speed limits.

I think the problem isn't so much absolute speed, but speed wherre you are not expectiing a bike to move so quickly. I was walking downhill on the custis, saw a bike a while away, didn't pay attention because he had to go uphill. He zoomed by me at 20 MPH -- old guy on a e-bike.

Bigger issue is getting joggers, segways and people with baby-vans out of the bike lanes.

The problem is the lanes. They are seldom wide enough they should be 8 ft for cycle two way traffic.

What do they do elsewhere?

I'm always surprised that with thousands and thousands of municipalities in this country, we have to reinvent the wheel every single time we move to pass legislation.

"two or three 16-inch wheels, fully functional pedals and not be able to exceed 20 miles per hour"

Umm, I can easily exceed 20mph commuting on my bike and often do on some downhill stretches, but I have no electric or motorized assitance. Would this make me in violation of her legislation?

Things I don't like in the bike lane: cars (obvious), segways (particularly tours), motorcycles/mopeds, strollers, pedestrians who jaywalk forgetting we're a lane of traffic and joggers. I don't care about ebikes.

I generally think the city would be wise to not disenfranchise any bikes (ebikers or otherwise) and should probably be as supportive as possible of mopeds/motorcycles (so long as they're not in the bike lane) because all of these folks drastically reduce traffic.

While we're at it. Let's dream of the impossible and extend the 15th cycletrack down to Constitution Ave. Tourist buses can let off on the other side of Constitution and folks can walk. Or on the other side of 15th. But it's so annoying to deal with the traffic there (and folks literally turning into you to go right at Constitution) or the Secret Service randomly saying don't ride in the ellipse.

Off topic but I recently wrote about my trip to DC and wondered if anyone here had any thoughts on the matter?


IMNSHO, vehicles like this should be divided into 4 categories:

Electric bikes = functional pedaling, limited to no more than 20MPH/750W; should be treated like bicycles.

Moped = pedalable, but higher defined speed (? MPH),should have helmet/eyewear required, std. drivers license needed to operate; park in bike racks, no driving in bike lanes.

Scooter = power only (limited MPH/HP?), all requirements of moped + registration/insurance; park in bike racks (?).

Motorcycle = full motor vehicle treatment; park in street.

Segways/golf-cart-types maybe should also be addressed in the same legislation?

FWIW- Fed regs say that sub-20MPH & 750W top power limits w/functional pedals is a bike, so that seems like a good standard to start with. Especially given "`(d) This section shall supersede any State law or requirement with respect to low-speed electric bicycles to the extent that such State law or requirement is more stringent than the Federal law or requirements referred to in subsection (a).'." So, states/DC can set looser limits on what an e-bike is, but not tighter ones.

I've been e-bike commuting 30 miles round trip for about 1 ½ years now. I’m healthy, fit and not a grandpa. For the record I used to be an avid mountain biker and a part time bike commuter. It's encouraging to hear such a reasonable approach to e-bikes by the politicians.

E-bikes are a game changer in that there are many benefits over unassisted bikes and cars. The end result is that one can commute using what is essentially a bicycle much more readily. As people catch onto this fact it will result in more of the positive effect to the riders, community and nation that bicycling brings.

As GMB pointed out it is far easier to obey the intersection laws and be extra courteous to pedestrians while on e-bikes. It’s actually fun to accelerate from a stop or slow speed on an e-bike as opposed to something to avoid.

For me the key is the shorter commute time in to work (about 1/3 less than unassisted), ability to ride in my work clothes (including full suit if need be) and no need to shower upon arrival at work. Even on full assist in the mornings in I am pedaling the whole way and therefore getting the equivalent of walking an hour.

As to speeds, e-bikes top out at either 15 or 18-20mph (model dependant) with maximum assist on and on flat ground. For hills you will not go that fast but it is still quicker than normal peddling as Charlie astutely pointed out. Same goes for strong headwinds. You know those ones where you are pedaling like mad but it feels like you are stuck in a dream where you can’t run. Riding an e-bike you actually end up positively exhilarated as you ride right into the wind at speed and it’s rushing by your ears!

Even with complete stops at intersections and going slow by pedestrians the quick acceleration up to a sustained 18-20 on open stretch of roads really cuts down on commute time. As to stopping the extra weight of e-bikes they almost all wisely come standard with disk brakes. Of course hydraulic on upper end ones.

A commonly overlooked option regarding e-bikes is riding with minimal or no assist. For my rides home from work and I change into casual biking clothes and shoes. The ride is a relaxed and pleasant one at a slow to moderate speed while I get a nice normal biking workout. All in all e-bikes just use electromechanical technology to give you great options to how you ride. Consider that technology in light frames, smooth bearings, fast tires and even performance clothing is used by many bike enthusiasts towards going faster and farther with less effort.

I am heartened to see all the productive comments on today’s post and will do my part as an e-bike rider to promote a fun, safe and positive outlook on biking every day.

Like Craigsquirrel, I am neither a grandpa nor unfit. I put electric assist on my bike because I was tired of showing up to social engagements all sweaty and gross. Love, love, love my electric assist. LOVE IT! It tops out at 15 mph, so there is no reason that it shouldn't be allowed wherever other bikes are allowed.

Meant to also post link to Fed Regs:


As a pedestrian and a bicyclist I have some questions about how Segways are treated.

Why is it that riding on sidewalks in the Central Business District is forbidden for bicycles but allowed for Segways?

Segways are more of a threat to pedestrians than bicycles. They are faster and heavier. In DC they are usually ridden by tourists who are Segway newbies.

I worked across the street from one of companies that rents Segways. Twice on my lunch break I saw a sight-seeing Segway rider bang into an unsuspecting pedestrian.

Now that DC has a few years of real world experience with Segways wouldn't it be appropriate to re-visit the law that permits them on sidewalks? Perhaps what the Segway lobbyists told City Council didn't turn out to be true.


Segways are not allowed on sidewalks within the CBD, same as bicycles. Follow the second link in the post to the DCist site where they have the current laws.

Actually segways are allowed as a mobility aid for the disabled, and since federal law prohibits requiring proof of disability, theyre allowed, just as an electric wheelchair is.

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