E-bikes: rules of the road & why we love ’em

When it comes to the rules of the road, e-bikes occupy a legal space between bicycles and motor vehicles. That’s why we’re excited to share Oregon E-Bike Rights: A Legal Guide for Electric Bike Riders published August 2018 by the firm Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost.

“Sometimes treated by law as a bicycle, sometimes as a motor vehicle, the bicycle with a battery powered electric motor has created a legal hybrid that defies easy and logical categorization … For many riders an electric bicycle creates opportunities to travel places that would be unreachable on a regular bicycle because of advancing age, injury or other physical limitations. The battery operated electric motor provides these opportunities without the power, noise, erosion and pollution associated with gasoline-powered engines.”

E-Bike Fan Mail

Photo from Armando Zelada

“My partner, Martine, purchased an e-bike immediately after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Over four long weeks of radiation, she rode it to each appointment—totaling 150 miles. Her beautiful blue CERO e-bike took care of Martine’s “range anxiety” (she was worried she might not feel well enough to bike all the way home at the end of a day). It helped her keep physically active (you still have to pedal!), and it provided her the great psychological benefit of being outdoors on the way home. Even when she was tired and I suggested for me to drive her, she fiercely protected her independence on a bicycle. I think biking up the ridge from work was a fitting metaphor for not letting a disease be so daunting that one pales at any kind of impediment.” — Armando Jerry Zelada

Photo from Amber Hollingsworth

“Every summer I think, ‘I want a Vespa.’ This summer, when I actually started researching it, I was discouraged by: a) the price tag, b) the motorcycle training and license requirements, and c) the gas mileage. I thought it would be better!

A couple friends suggested I look into an e-bike instead, and honestly my first thought was, ‘But they look so nerdy.’ Part of the appeal of a Vespa is just how dang cute they are.

But I decided to go check them out anyway. I took a test ride at a bike shop and it was so fun! It felt like riding a normal bike but just never difficult. That’s my kind of commute. And once I saw the iZip in ‘salmon,’ I knew I’d found my Vespa alternative. 

I love cruising the eight miles to work. I get a workout but don’t show up super sweaty. I love riding downtown and not paying for parking, and spending half as much money on gas as I used to. And I LOVED the extra uphill help on my bike camping trip last month. 

Plus, I mean, how cute is this bike?” — Amber Lee Hollingsworth

Photo from Instagram via Jimmy Cavalieri

“Our family decided to get an e-bike because of my daily commute with my kids. I have an almost 3-year old and a 6-year old and there was no good way to drop them off at daycare and then be able to get downtown for work without spending an arm and leg on parking (and way too much time in our ever-degrading traffic). We bought an Xtracycle Edgerunner with e-assist a little over 1 1/2 years ago. Our maiden voyage was in the middle of February with my kids bundled up in fleece and rainsuits — not the most auspicious month to start a new bike adventure. But we’ve never regretted it.  

Having the e-assist makes it easier to motivate to get on the bike, even when I’m feeling tired and not up to dealing with hills loaded down with the extra 100 lbs. they add. And if I’m feeling like I need a little more exercise (‘cause with 2 small kids, it’s often the only exercise I get), I can shift the bike into a lower gear and use more human power and less ‘e.’

We call our e-bike the ‘family bike’ and have it geared up to keep it a fun experience for the kids. I always make sure to pack snacks and lap blankets in the saddlebags to keep the kids happy and comfortable in any weather. And we have a Bluetooth speaker attached to the handlebars so we can sing along to songs from Moana or Katy Perry to keep the mood light. As my older child starts riding a bike herself alongside me, we always have the option of bungee-cording her bike onto the back of the family bike if she gets tired or otherwise decides she wants to hop back on the family bike to finish up her ride. The bike is so versatile and fun to ride…I never want to ride my ‘regular’ commuter bike anymore.” — Carolyn Sharp

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