Another Wellingtonian gets an electric bike

26 03 2010

On Guim’s Electric Bicycle World Tour Blog (he’s still in New Zealand) there is a short piece on Wellingtonian, Craig Killey, whose current job is writing a separate standard for power assisted cycles for Standards New Zealand.

It is encouraging, because he tried out an electric bike as part of his investigations and now he is hooked on them. This bodes well. Someone in the public service who is going to help make the laws and he’s going to understand the technology when he does so. Brilliant!! That is the way the world should work.

In one of my longer posts I wax lyrical about what I think power assisted cycle standards should be. Craig, I hope you’ve come up with similar conclusions.

Here are the relevant parts from my post:

Allowable pedal assist
One of the joys of using a cycle path is being out of the noise cone of traffic. This tranquility is ruined by 2 stroke engines, or any petrol engine, not to mention the breathing of filthy exhaust. So all forms of assistance to pedal power should be provided by electric motors. ie all 2 stroke and 4 stroke engine assists should be banned from classification as a bike. Preferably they are banned outright, but at the very least they should be classified as mopeds or motorcycles and kept out of bike paths and bike lanes.

All pedal electric bicycles need pedals, except for the special case of bikes for the disabled and infirm. Segways and the like would breach that, but Segways have failed in the marketplace and need not be considered.

Max Speed
There should be no maximum speed defined for an electric bike. Maximum speeds as signposted for other vehicles may or may not be enforced as per local custom. If there is to be a maximum speed defined then it should be reasonable. 25km/hr is way too slow. 30 km/hr is also too slow. Regular (ie non electric) road bike users can routinely go 40km/hr. Some cyclists going downhill easily go past 50km/hr. Recumbent trikes are inherently more stable than bicycles and the speeds are both faster and safer than a normal bike. So if maximum speeds are set they should be set at different levels for bikes, trikes and velomobiles.  Any speed restriction for cutting out the electric motor relies on some way to assess the current speed which adds to the expense of the bike. It is better to limit the bike by its maximum power, rather than it’s maximum speed.

Max Power
200W and 300W does not give much speed advantage over regular cycling. California probably has the most liberal practical law here, and it limits the max power to 1000W. I don’t know if that is for one motor, or it is possible to have that on each of two motors. I would tend to suggest whatever makes a normal rider go at about 40km/hr is about right. Good riders could exceed that. More should be allowed for recumbent trikes due to their stability. Youths’ pedelecs should have a max power of whatever takes them up to about 30 km/hr.

Power Assistance
Power to the motors driving the wheels should not be limited to when the pedals are turning. When braking power to the motors should be removed. Regenerative braking is optional. Some form of charging the batteries when rolling down hills is also optional. Power should not be removed from the motor when a maximum speed is reached.

Bicycles in all forms should not require licensing, nor registration. Kids, youths and adults should be exposed to safety education campaigns, but there should be nothing formalised to stop the spur of the moment freedom to ride.

Where pedal electrics can be ridden and taken
Everywhere that a normal bicycle can be ridden, including bike paths and bike lanes, and on the road two abreast, including velomobiles. There is no reason why off road bicycle paths should be shut to pedal electrics like in Boulder, Colorado (which sounds like it had one of the lycra brigade be a bit snobby about pedelecs). On trains that carry bikes, there is no reason to disallow pedelec bikes (but trikes and velomobiles are another story).

Max weight
30kg for bikes, 40kg for recumbants and velomobiles. This rules out lots of heavy sealed lead acid batteries, but that is probably a good thing.



One response

9 07 2016
Thomas Schmidhalter

Yeah, I live up in Auckland, I’m a mechanical engineer and commute about 35min with a 300W electric bike to work. This power limitation makes absolutely no sense… a 1000W electric bike weights about the same as a 300W, so a any given speed the potential to do harm is exactly the same for both. The only difference is at 1000W the rider has considerably more ability to accelerate and keep a constant speed going up hills. Cycling slowly within traffic is dangerous to the rider. Having a 1000W limit and a 40kmh limit is a much safer limit. If they want to impose speed limits then it should be for everyone, I.e. 30kmh zones for all motorist. If the government did some research they’d probably find out that most common accident is caused by people opening their door into cyclists, the reason cyclists need to be so close to parked cars is because they need to leave room for frequently passing cars, increasing the allowable speed would reduce this frequency and reduce the chance of this happening.

Allot of states in America have just the speed limit imposed not a power limit. Power alone does not have any bearing on potential to do harm.

At a guess 99% of cyclist accidents involve cars, more specifical the constrains imposed onto cyclists by faster moving cars or the relative speed difference between the two.

I think if they found the sweet spot between potential to do harm vs cyclist safety it would be closer to the 40kmh limit.
And acceleration needs to match that of cars, for safety at lights, so no power limit, just a weight limit. Let’s say 50kg.

I know some people may say, just get a motor bike!! Well I need to catch the ferry and some times the trains and you cant take heavy petrol powered bikes on either. Nor do I want to ride a noisey, heavy machine.

More acceleration, 1000W, a little higher top speed limit and a weight limit. Everyone’s Safer and happier, cyclists and motorist alike.

Plus you’d see a lot more people taking up ebiking. Most large NZ cities are no designed for cyclists let’s level out the playing field a little.

You cant deny the safety implications out weight the potential to do harm. There are probably virtually no stats on cyclist injuring pedestrians compared to cyclists getting injured by cars. So again let’s level out the playing feild. If it was my kids riding these bike to school I would have much more peace of mind knowing that they can have there own piece the road and not be dominated by cars.

Its simple.

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