Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tuscon Ebikes

Tucson Sets Limits On Motorized Bikes
Sep 20, 2006 10:02 AM

Tucson's City Council is setting limits on motorized bikes to fall into line with a new state law which takes effect Thursday.

The new law says a bike that goes faster than 20 miles an hour is a moped—meaning it must be licensed, insured, and registered. The owner also must have a valid driver's license. But if it stays under 20 miles an hour, it's a bicycle.

Tuesday night, city leaders agreed with the state law. Motorized bikes in Tucson will be subject to the 20 mph speed limit, keeping them bicycles in the eyes of the law.

The motorized bikes are popular with people trying to save money on gas. Some models can get up to 150 miles on a gallon of gas, and several people told city leaders to stay off their rides.

"It's a method of of getting from point A to point B," says Alex Nolke, a motorized bike rider. "If we live in a society where they think they need to put laws on transportation, that's missing the whole point."

The city plans to review the bike regulations in a year to see if changes are needed.

City to Regulate Motorized Bicycles
By Bud Foster KOLD News Anchor/Reporter
Sep 20, 2006 06:41 AM

They scoot down the street at 150 miles to the gallon. That's part of the allure of a motorized bicycle.

With the price of gas sky high, small engines propel the bikes up hills, through traffic and around town with a minimum of energy, both fuel and people power.

But is it a motorbike or just a bicycle? Is it a bicycle with a small motor or a motorcycle in disguise? Maybe it's a moped.

The new state law says if it stays under 20 miles an hour, it's a bicycle. But if it goes over 20, it's definitely a moped and falls under different regulations.

But the motorized bikes don't have speedometers, so it's hard to tell how fast it's going.

That still raises a lot of unanswered questions.

The way the law is written you can't make restrictions to say this is the kind of thing we do allow and this is the kind of things that we don't," says Diana Tolton, chair of the Tucson Pima County bicycle advisory committee.

She thinks the motorbikes are a safety hazard because they can be modified to go a lot faster than 20 miles per hour. She's clocked them at over 30 miles an hour. She asked one driver how fast he was going, and was shocked when he thought it was less than 20.

She doesn't want them banned, she wants them governed.

"There are electric motors that are on bicycles in other countries that will shut down at 18 miles an hour before they reach 20. That kind of thing they would be no problem," she told us in a one on one interview.

The city must come up with some new regulations for motorized bicycles by Thursday. A new state law takes effect this week defining what a motorized bike is or isn't, but doesn't set up rules. The law leaves that up to the cities.

And speed is not the only issue.

Tolton asks, "Do we want people who have lost their licenses because of a DUI, now driving a motorized bike? Do we want someone who is legally disabled and unable to get a drivers license to be on a motorized bike?"

The city will tackle the issue in a public hearing Tuesday, September 19, 2006 at city hall. The hearing begins at 5:30pm.

by Ryan O'Donnell - Fox 11 News - Wednesday, September 20, 2006

They’re becoming more and more popular, bikes with motors, and with that popularity comes scrutiny. On Tuesday night, folks at city hall set some new rules.

It looks and peddles, just like any another bike, but it’s not just like other bikes. It has an engine, mounted to its frame.

"I can pop the clutch and hit the gas at the same time," said Jacqueline Larriva on her way home from school.

That’s how you start it, kind of like push starting a car, only Larriva uses her peddles to get it going fast enough. She uses it to get to and from the University of Arizona; it saves her three-hundred dollars in parking and even more on gas.

"Mine is a half gallon tank and so I get about 75 miles on this one tank of gas," said Larriva.

New laws go into affect, on Thursday, regulating who can use them, where they can be ridden and why you need to watch your speed. Propped up right now, these are motorized bicycles, but you get them to 20 miles per hour or faster, they fall into a whole new category, with a whole new set of guidelines.

"Once it hits 20 miles per hour, then it’s a moped," said Lt. Mike Pryor of the Tucson Police Department.

Meaning it has to be registered, you need a license and you need to follow all the moped safety requirements. On Tuesday night, the city council added more to the state’s new laws, by adopting an ordinance even further regulating operation. A unanimous decision most motorized bicycle riders agreed with.

"I think they strike a fair balance among all of the interest that are involved," said one supporter in the new adopted ordinance.

"I think that they’re going to find out as we have with vehicles that it’s going to be a little more complex than this ordinance," said another audience member who disagrees with the new ordinance.

For Jacqueline Larriva, she’s in, if it means for safer riding.

"I’m happy to do it, if it means I’m safe and other people are safe on the road, than I’m more than willing to do that," said Larriva.

One question out of all this is when you’re on a bike, how do you know when you’re going over 20 miles per hour? Well, the mayor suggested that the shops that sell these bikes offer to put a speedometer on them. The council also voted to revisit all this in a year to see how it’s working.

Council passes minimal gas-powered bike regulations

TUCSON, Ariz. Good news for Tucson residents who use gas-powered and electric bicycles for transportation.
The city council last night voted unanimously to institute basic regulations on the bikes, but also voted to allow them on city streets, bike lanes and in other areas where regular bikes can go.

The bikes will not be allowed on multi-use paths or sidewalks.

The bikes are powered by two-stroke motors similar to the engines that power chain saws, leaf blowers and some Jet Skis.

More than 15 motorized-bike users spoke at the city council meeting to say how much they depend on the bikes to get around.

Riders of traditional bikes showed up in smaller numbers and asked that the bikes only be allowed on private property.

City Council adopts rules on motorized bicycles
Speed can't exceed 20 mph; riders must be 16; opponent cites hazards

Tucson Citizen

Motorized-bicycle riders will face new restrictions under an ordinance approved by the City Council Tuesday night.
Supporters of the ordinance say the bikes provide an alternate means of transportation for those who cannot afford a car and live too far from public transportation, while opponents say the bikes are hazardous.
The council approved an ordinance that sets the minimum age for riders at 16, requires a helmet for those under 18, limits the number of riders to no more than what the bicycle or tricycle was designed for and calls for a headlight and rear reflector during nighttime riding.
The ordinance also bars riders operating the bikes on sidewalks and mixed-use paths such as the trails that run along several riverbeds in the area.
Stores selling motorized bikes are required to tell customers about the city ordinance and post a sign stating that state law sets the speed limit for the bikes at 20 mph. The ordinance takes effect immediately and violators are subject to a $100 fine.
Roland Bosma, owner of Spooky Tooth Cycles, said the ordinance makes sense.
"The ordinance is an extremely good blessing," he said. "Safety has always been on my mind and it should be on everyone's mind. By default, we are not allowed in the main thoroughfare of traffic. Our folks are on a lower socio-economic level of society. Fifty percent of our riders rely on this as their only form of transportation. This is a class issue."
Spooky Tooth has built more than 300 of the motorized bikes, which are essentially beach cruisers fitted with a two-stroke engine similar to those found on a weed trimmer.
Capt. George Stoner of the Tucson Police Department said that while the ordinance sets some safety standards and provides guidelines for the public, there are potential safety issues in having powered bikes share bike lanes with traditional cyclists.
The council will revisit the issue in a year to examine the safety implications of the ordinance.
There have been two documented cases of traffic collisions in which a motorized bike rider has been killed, but it is not clear if the motors were on at the time of incidents, Stoner said. There also has been at least one extreme DUI case and Stoner said officers with radar guns have clocked motorized bikes traveling at speeds greater than 30 mph.
A state law that takes effect Thursday would place motorized bikes in a category of their own based on the size of the engine and sets a maximum speed of 20 mph. Police had been classifying the bikes as mopeds and citing riders for being unlicensed drivers without insurance or registration, Bosma said.
Diana Tolton, chairwoman of the Tucson Pima Bicycle Advisory Committee, said she saw a cyclist on a motorized bike traveling at speeds well above 20 mph on her way to Tuesday night's meeting.
Her committee recommended against the ordinance and called for one banning the bikes similar to an ordinance passed by the council a few years ago on motorized scooters and skateboards.
She said that while motorized bikes may be an attractive option for affordable transportation, the bike lane is not a safe place for the vehicles and she believes riders may be inclined to ignore the ordinance.
"We see it as a way to circumvent the current moped laws," Tolton told the council. "They're going to be caught when they are going over 30 mph. I would love to see every kind of wheel that's out there on the street, but the infrastructure is not there."
Stacy DeLancey said she uses her motorized bike to travel to and from work.
"This is how I get around. I cannot walk. If I walk, I'm out of work for two days," she said.

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