Monday, March 18, 2019

Chicago Seeks To Clarify E-Bike Rules

A rider on an e-bike. (Abel Uribe/
Chicago Tribune)
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has introduced amendments to Chicago's municipal code clarifying where electric assist bicyclists may legally roam the City's streets.  In 2018 a statewide law went in affect creating a three class system for e-bikes but mostly left it to municipalities around Illinois to decide for themselves how to regulate use of the different bike classes.  The proposed Chicago ordinance attempts to address where the bikes falling under each class may be used.

Here are the highlights of the proposed ordinance:

  • Class 1 e-bikes (pedal assist under 20 mph and bike weighing less than 125 pounds), may travel in City bicycle lanes.  Class 2 and 3 bikes may not.
  • The rider of a class 1 e-bike "is permitted to pass on the right side of a slower-moving or standing vehicle or bicycle, but must exercise due care when doing so."  Riders of class 2 and 3 e-bikes are not permitted to do so.
  • Riders of class 2 and 3 e-bikes may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle but only under the same conditions as motor vehicle drivers as set forth in 9-36-020.
  • Class 2 and 3 e-bikes may not be ridden on any sidewalk.  Class 1 e-bikes may be ridden on sidewalks by persons under the age of 12.  Persons 12 and over may only ride class 1 e-bikes on sidewalks marked as bike paths, to access a bike share station or to access a roadway.
  • Except where otherwise stated, people riding e-bikes, particularly class 1 e-bikes, may use them anywhere, and in the same manner, as traditional bicycles.
The clarifications proposed in the new ordinance are welcome.  Many people in Chicago's bicycle community assumed that class 1 e-bikes were allowed to travel in bike lanes, but confirmation in the form of an ordinance is appreciated. 

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