Ebike bill rides again

[Update — It’s all passed and signed as of 5/16/2018… see below, the bill was initially VETOED it in an unrelated  political tiff]

Late in this legislative season (53 2nd regular), an ebike bill has once again surfaced from Rep Worsley; this time as a “striker” in the former dark sky lighting special plates bill HB2266.

The bill is suddenly, as is always the case I guess with strikers, being heard, scheduled for 3/20/2018 in the senate where it passed unanimously…

… at the hearing Rep(?) Allen described it as “common sense” legislation. As of this writing (3/29) azleg.gov is showing it was voted on by the full (COW) senate 3/28 with DPA (do pass, amended refers to the striker), but vote shows all zeros so not sure what that means.

Compared to last year’s bill that died, this bill seems “cleaner”; here’s a direct link to the marked up statute.

It follows the three-class distinctions (a la CA) and makes it explicit that e-bikes are not motor vehicles; nor are they mopeds, motorized bicycles,  motor-driven cycles, or motorcycles.

They are, by default, to be regulated as bicycles (with one exception, see below); which means things like there are no operator age restrictions, no licensing, no registration, no insurance requirements; nor any operator safety-equipment requirements (e.g. AZ has no helmet laws). There are no specific speed restrictions (the Basic Speed Law, ARS 28-701, of course applies).

They simply inherit bicycle rules, like lighting requirements. There are no additional equipment restrictions, e.g. last year’s bill would have required a speedometer on Class 3 e-bikes.

The one exception to being regulated identically as bicycles at the state level is that Class 3, by default, would be banned from “bicycle or multiuse path unless it is within or adjacent to a highway or roadway”.

Because of Arizona’s local-control statute; localities would be free to further regulate them however they please.

R5-3

The not a motor vehicle thing should be helpful; as the intention is to operated like bicycles. See bicycles-are-not-motor-vehicles-and-why-it-matters.; though it’s plain in the law, there are still some who willfully misinterpret it; supplying their own personal biases and prejudice instead. The seems most common in mis-understanding and mis-applying slow-vehicle rules in general; for example these individuals seem to grasp that a truck driver going slowly (perhaps because of a heavy load, or a grade, or a street sweeper, or a piece of construction equipment) in the right-hand lane is NOT committing a violation; whereas for some reason, they believe, a bicyclist is.

I should note that although I like that the bill is very “clean”, it does not address the problems/traps with the existing (now just gas-powered) motorized bicycle law, relating to restricting gas-powered bikes to being operated at below 20mph. Some police have used this foible to cause, in my view, disproportionate punishment for motorized bicyclists.

Loose ends?

Legal definitions of “paths”: The terms bicycle path and multiuse path aren’t really legally defined anywhere that I have found. See my handy list of related definitions.

In any event, the phrase relating only to  Class 3 being banned from “a bicycle or multiuse path unless it is within or adjacent to a highway or roadway”. Is probably intended to allow class 3’s on things like cycletracks; or other separated infra. Like maybe for example the odd raised bike lane on Hardy.

I note that it would be a very bad idea to ride this type of infrastructure at anywhere near 28mph.

Homebrew? There are many available conversion kits to electrify a standard bicycle. It’s not clear to me how they would fit in.

Muddle over gas-powered motorized bikes not addressed: Another distinct loose end, in my view, is this bill does nothing to clear up the legal issues surrounding the original motorized bicycle law (especially the “operated at less than 20mph” bit); it simply leaves (gasoline powered) motorized bicyclists legally adrift. Gas-powered bicyclists seem to be a hated minority of a hated minority. I don’t “like” noisy, polluting, gas powered gizmos either, but that’s no excuse to persecute their users with novel interpretations of vague laws that are easily misused by police to unfairly punish somebody who’s simply riding their otherwise legal bikes at 20mph.

Bill Passes But is Vetoed for unrelated reasons

The Arizona legislature passed the bill 4/17/2018 and is awaiting an expected gov’s signature; according to BRAIN article.

Then on 4/20/2018 Gov. Ducey vetoed this bill along with many others in an unrelated spending battle involving teacher salaries.

Here’s a news story from BRAIN describing the veto situation.

Here’s Gov. Ducey’s veto letter. Isn’t politics wonderful? “Today I vetoed HB2266 (electric bicycles; definition; use). Please, send me a budget that gives teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020…”. Then teachers will be able to afford an ebike 🙂

Bill arises after the veto

With the education/budget crisis behind us…

The same language surfaced again on 4/30/2018 in a new house bill,   HB2652, they call this a “replacement bill”  (strangely and confusingly, that link will lead to the vetoed HB2266. To locate HB2652 directly must do a bill search from apps.azleg.gov. in other words, the bills are behind the scenes linked together).

At the moment, can view the language of the new bill (which I think is the old bill verbatim) at the old-style link, i.e.  https://www.azleg.gov/legtext/53leg/2R/bills/HB2652P.htm

HB2652 passed and on 5/16/2018 was signed by Governor.

One curious thing is the vote was much closer in the House where it passed 34-26-7. I’ll have to look but I would guess it’s some partisan bullshit.  (the identical bill passed a couple of weeks ago 39-17-4)

Here’s a presumably final BRAIN article about the final passage and signing by gov; According to BRAIN, Arizona becomes the ninth state with …

“Industry-supported model e-bike legislation has also been passed in California, Colorado, Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, Utah and Washington state.”

The general effective date for legislation passed in this session is 8/3/2018.

Other States…

Current as of July 2018; article by Brendan Dolan raises some good points; and compares/contrasts the existing state’s laws, UPDATE #2: It’s a Bicycle, It’s a Motorcycle, It’s a Motor Vehicle…No, It’s an Electric Bicycle
A very handy  more detailed, state-by-state analysis of current e-bike legislation, chart (downloadable .pdf).

 

 

5 thoughts on “Ebike bill rides again”

  1. If I understand it correctly, this bill looks good – in that it adds further clarity.

    Here in Tucson, Pima Co. has published confusing advice on their Facebook page about e-bikes and their use on The Loop. Hopefully this bill will assist in getting that straightened out.

    I do not use an e-bike, but see them used on The Loop regularly – mostly by people in need of the electric assistance due to their physical limitations. I’ve never had a problem with an e-bike – in fact often I suspect many people do not even realize if a bike has electric assistance.

  2. “I note that it would be a very bad idea to ride this type of infrastructure at anywhere near 28mph.”

    ^ e-bikes?
    v motorized?

    “I should note that although I like that the bill is very “clean”, it does not address the problems/traps with the existing (now just gas-powered) motorized bicycle law, relating to restricting gas-powered bikes to being operated at below 20mph. Some police have used this foible to cause, in my view, disproportionate punishment for motorized bicyclists.”

    i was doing 28mph or so, though not really worried about mph’s, passed a side street and low and behold a hundred foot down came officer bored. no radar that i know of. pulled me over. “going a little fast there , huh? blah blah blah” . nice fellow, no hassle.
    he says “get a governor, 25 mph or ill get you next time.”
    then sped off as if or to a call. ( mesa pd )

    also a fellow rider kept saying 28 as we looked at each others bikes. to which i warned 25. GAH!

    this makes three mph choices in my book. so which is it?

    thank you

  3. To the previous comment, until August 3, the speed limit is 20 mph. That cop was being pretty lenient. I expect that as a practical matter cops will allow 30 mph going forward. But even that will be questionable since the bike has no speed limit per se. Only the motor assist is limited to 28 mph. How can a cop determine when the motor stopped helping – especially when going downhill?

    As for the new law, it has (at least) one HUGE ambiguity in the watt rating for the motor.

    “… WITH FULLY OPERABLE PEDALS AND AN ELECTRIC MOTOR OF LESS THAN SEVEN HUNDRED FIFTY WATTS AND THAT …”
    What does “of less than seven hundred fifty watts mean? It doesn’t say, “manufacturer’s rating”. There is no standard for establishing a watt rating for an electric motor. The legislatures seem to be operating under the idea that electric motors can be rated in watts much like light bulbs can. But it doesn’t work that way.

    Watts could refer to power drawn from the battery? Well, that’s a problem because the power drawn is more a function of the motor controller amperage and not the motor itself. The same motor could draw 250 watts or 1500 watts depending on the controller and batteries used.

    Motor wattage could refer to the amount of motor power delivered as well. But does that refer to peak or continuous? And In reality it gets even more complicated because motor wattage changes depending on the load applied. You can’t point to an electric motor and say definitively that it has some specific wattage rating. The reality is that wattage ratings used by dealers and manufacturers are a fuzzy mix of describing the bike’s capabilities and a significant dose of marketing BS.

    This is a huge ambiguity. Mind you I’m not complaining. They’ve created a huge loophole that gives DIY bikers a lot more wiggle room. My plan is to put a sticker on my motor that shows shows 750 or fewer watts and isn’t a lie. If stopped by a cop (unlikely IMO) I’ll just point to the sticker.

    BTW, just to point to the absurdity of even being concerned about the motor watts, Segway personal transports have a combined rated motor wattage (remember, that actually doesn’t mean a lot) of 3000 watts. And those are legally allowed on sidewalks in AZ. Go figure.

  4. Jay, I think you are correct in that their is some ambiguity in regards to the watts rating, which can be a marketing dept. number as much as anything.

    That said, I think the many problems with past laws covering e-bikes are starting to be addressed – and AZ law is coming closer to federal law. All are good for the public in my view. E-bikes are coming to AZ, just look at the wave of e-bike popularity in every major city in the world.

    The main things in this new AZ law, I believe, are:
    – The establishment of the definition for the Classes of e-bikes
    – Reinforcement of speeds: 20 mph limit for Class 1 and 2, and 28 mph for Class 3
    – No throttle allowed for Class 1
    – Labeling required for e-bikes, with class and watt rating

    I hope the new state law will lead to cities allowing Class 1 e-bikes on all public paths, as they are important for those with physical limitations and provide a much stronger incentive to bike commute – especially in AZ’s warm climate.

    I feel under the new AZ law, law enforcement will be able to look at the required labeling on an e-bike and determine if they meet the required Class for the facility they are operating on. The police will be able to see if the bike has pedals or if a throttle exists or not.

    Every major city in AZ (and much of the US) has painted itself into a corner – by sprawling out into the hinterland to the point it has become impossible to raise taxes sufficiently to maintain city/county services, especially our public roads. I believe bikes are part of our long term solution to this dilemma, and it is therefore imperative that lawmakers make clear our bike-related laws.

  5. The new law is cookie cutter legislation that works just fine (better than before) for me, but it is potential bad news for a fellow I know who was perfectly legal under the old law. He has a heavy trike with fairly powerful motors. Never went over 20 mph. Now he’ll have to deal with motor power ambiguities. He’s partially disabled, so the trike is important to him.

    Having both Classes 1 and 2 seem fairly pointless to me because they are treated equally under the current law. But aside from that peculiarity, having the two classes seems pointless to me. Why do we care if a throttle is enabled and/or operated indirectly through pedaling or directly through a separate throttle? What’s the point?

    Class 1 & 3 are not “no throttle.” The law says nothing about not having a throttle. I’m pretty sure that the word “throttle” does not appear. The law merely says that power application can only be enabled when the rider is pedaling. Of course, pedaling isn’t really defined. My e-bike can be configured to do exactly that – disable the hand throttle when the pedals are stationary. If a police officer is making a decision based on whether a throttle exists or not, she’s making a mistake.

    I would add that my experience in using both pedal and hand throttle modes is that “pedal actuated only” operation of an e-bike is less precise, less safe and less convenient than having both able to work separately or together.

    Labeling is not required for a home-built e-bike or any e-bike sold before January 1, 2019.

    So in short, if a police officer stops me because he thinks my DIY/Home-brew bike that I assembled in 2017 is not legal, he has two things he can check for:
    1) The existence of functioning pedals (ill defined – but doable to some degree.)
    2) The motor cut-off speed limit.

    As for bike paths, I think we’d be best served by ignoring the classes and simply apply some common sense speed limits that would apply to e-bikes and regular bikes alike. They would be applied based on the nature of the path/lane much as we do with speed limits on roads. I think that’s the better answer to all of this. They should simply impose more realistic speed limits for paths, bike lanes, riding on roads, and sidewalk riding.

    I’m a big fan of bike commuting. I rode many thousands of miles to work in the 80s and 90s. Since September last year I’ve commuted over 3,000 miles to work (Fountain Hills to Scottsdale Airpark area) – and that’s with a four month break to recover from a surgery. But as much as I love cycling and e-biking, I don’t see it as any more than a bit player in our transportation future. There just aren’t enough people that motivated or that willing to deal with the compromises. But maybe I’m wrong. If so, and if clear laws are needed for that to be the case, the AZ Legislature sure missed the boat with this recent change in legislation. The laws themselves, their rationale, and their intent aren’t very clear at all.

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