E-bike bills were introduced in the House (HF 1412) and Senate (SF 1136) recently. These bills would let e-bikes operate legally on all bike pathways and trails, including state trails managed by the Department of Natural Resources and paths created by local units of government, unless it is deemed that “operation of the electric-assisted bicycle is not consistent with safe use and enjoyment of the trail".
I have no idea who would deem operation of these to be unsafe - my guess is that it would come down to the entity managing each of the trails. Said deeming would probably only occur after a serious injury that results in a law suit involving that entity, I suspect.
Do we really need another law passed for what is a minor special interest? Opening trails to these seems like a bad idea for everyone in the State except the few people that have these things and live on or near a state trail (and the people that will make money off of this). These things will be popping up on City trails that are already congested with pedestrians (often listening to headphones), roller bladers, kids on bikes, adults on bikes and joggers.
I have already ranted that the industry people will tell you that the buyers of e-bikes are "cautious riders", and that they only use these things to help get up hills. I do not believe that is the case, especially with gasoline at $4.00/gallon. I think these are going to be used as cheaper alternative to a scooter by most buyers. Furthermore, e-bikes don't require a driver's license, they don't require any physical strength or stamina, and there's certainly no pre-qualification test for bike-handling skills. Anyone who can swipe a credit card can own an e-bike.
AARP will tell the politicians that these things are great because they can help keep seniors active. The bike industry will see this as a great way to suck some money off of the baby-boomers, and bike advocacy groups will nod along, dreaming of more memberships and sponsors.
This is simply another example of using the legislative process to benefit a small special interest and line the pockets of PACs, advocacy groups and businesses at the expense of the people that are using the trail systems today.