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State Legislature gives the green light to E-Bikes

Michael Reuter and Rep. Klint Kesto
On Wednesday, October 11, the Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism committee approved legislation that creates a framework for the legal operation of electric-assist bicycles (e-bikes) in Michigan.

E-bikes are essentially regular bicycles with a small, quiet electric motor attached to the rear wheel. They often require pedaling to use their electronic power. Under the previous law, e-bikes were treated the same as a moped, requiring licensing and insurance.

Michigan’s new law treats e-bikes as what they are: bicycles. The policy promises to be one of the most sophisticated approaches to e-bike legislation in the country -- an outcome we believe our Governor, a purported e-bike and trail advocate, will appreciate.

The new law doesn’t allow e-bikes on every road and trail, nor does it ban them everywhere. MEC worked with our member groups League of Michigan Bicyclists and Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, as well as other allies including the Michigan Mountain Biking Association and the North Country Trail Association to better understand the issues and craft a compromise.

The new law will allow e-bikes to travel in bike lanes, but excludes them from rustic trails and other natural spaces. Under the new law, local communities will have a clear process for changing e-bike regulations when and if the need arises.

The new law is a recipe for encouraging physically active communities where people of different ages and abilities can ride an e-bike for daily transportation -- a goal we can all support! We hope the Senate will move quickly to approve these bills.

MEC is excited to see our state ahead of the curve, pushing forward a thoughtful policy that encourages sustainable methods of transportation. We look forward to Michigan continuing to lead our transportation revolution by advancing policy solutions that support electric cars and autonomous vehicles.
-Brad Garmon & Sean Hammond
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