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As E-Bikes Speed Up, a Policy Dilemma Looms.

The newest electric bikes can go much faster than pedal-only riders, which could spur a backlash from pedestrians and a crackdown from regulators.


October 29, 2021, 1:00 PM GMT+2

"Aware of the V’s power, Carlier believes that government oversight is necessary. “There should be a minimum age and driver’s license,” he says. But he demurs on other possible limitations, such as requiring insurance or limiting where a V could be ridden.

For now, though, the regulatory landscape for a 37-mph e-bike is muddled in the United States. In 2002, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission established a general definition of e-bikes (under 750 watts of power and a top speed of 20 mph), but states typically determine whether such vehicles must be registered, while cities decide where they can be ridden. More than 30 states have now adopted a three-tiered classification system developed by the bike industry. The fastest Class 3 e-bikes are limited to 28 mph. (A few stragglers like Massachusetts still have yet to codify their e-bike rules, though a new bill may address that.) Congress used the three-class system in its current proposal for a federal e-bike tax credit, meaning that bikes like the VanMoof V that exceed 28 mph wouldn’t be eligible for it.

So where does all of this leave an electric bicycle that goes faster than a Class 3 e-bike? Basically, in limbo. “It’s an out-of-class vehicle,” says Banayan. “How a vehicle like that is regulated is up to the states, and there aren’t yet any clear trends on how they are addressing these products.”

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