SURVEY SHOWS MAJORITY WOULD ALLOW 20-MPH E-BIKES IN BIKE LANES AND ON ROADS
Survey results released at the 2016 N.J. Bike & Walk Coalition Summit show confusion, but increased interest, in bicycles equipped with electric motors (e-bikes) for use on roads and in bicycle lanes.
The survey was developed by representatives of the Morris Area Freewheelers Foundation and the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association, with input from Sourland Cycles, Keep Middlesex Moving, TransOptions and Ridewise, among other testers. The survey was distributed online via email and social media from January 21 through February 22, 2016, gathering 608 responses.
The survey asked respondents about their familiarity with five types of electric bicycles, from those requiring pedaling to those that engaged the motor without pedaling to reach speeds of 15-28 mph. The survey also asked how comfortable respondents are now riding on a range of surfaces, from multiuse paths to busy connector roads with or without bike lanes. It also asked if an e-bike would change their comfort level. Most said they would feel as comfortable on a non-motorized bicycle as on an e-bike.
The older, mostly male respondents said they had mixed views on what they would consider an e-bike. About 52% said that the five two-wheelers presented in the survey were “mostly bikes,” but 48% were not sure.
Current N.J. motor vehicle law, under which bicycle regulations fall, does not define “e-bikes” as such. The State now recognizes fully human powered “bicycles” and motorized bicycles or “mopeds.” Other states, such as California, have recently issued detailed definitions and regulations for electric assisted bicycles.
Here in NJ, respondents said that e-bikes should not be regulated by the state (51%), and that most types of e-bikes should be allowed on roads and in bike lanes. All models received strong disapproval on mountain bike trails, sidewalks and group rides.Interest in purchasing an e-bike was limited, with 33% saying they would consider the purchase. If they were to buy one, respondents said they would do so to replace car trips (38.7%), ride with less effort (32%), because they work or live in a hilly area (30.9%) or might have a medical condition (30.6%). 39.7% would spend less than $1000 for an e-bike, and another 35.6% would spend $1000-$1999.
IF YOU have first-hand experience with riding an e-bike in NJ, please contact Foundation Vice Chair Jim Hunt, firstname.lastname@example.org