Electric Bikes Allowed
Michigan State Legislature approved a three-bill package (HB 4781, 4782 and 4783), which provides for the legal operation of electric-assist bicycles (ebikes) in Michigan. Under the previous law, ebikes were treated the same as a moped, requiring licensing and insurance.
Speaking before Senator Hansen and members of the Senate Committee on Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, Traverse City residents George Lombard and Linda Deneen explained what using an ebike has meant to them, both have disabilities.
Lombard, who is 86-year-old leg amputee, Paralympian and avid trail user who worked with the DNR to create the Vasa Pathway in Traverse City, cited the benefits in his life from the use of an ebike. He explained the improved quality of life he has experienced and talked about the benefits to others, such as those with early Parkinson Disease, neuromuscular disorders, cardiac patients and pacemaker wearers.
Deneen founded SheBikes an organization dedicated to encouraging active lifestyles for women. She needs frequent physical therapy and exercise as she has a rare neurological disorder, Task Specific Segmental Dystonia and had stopped riding completely until the ebike became available. She shared “Being able to ride again and participate with friends and family in a beloved sport with my pedal assisted ebike as returned a huge part of my life I believed was gone forever.”
From this legislation all classes of ebikes may travel in bike lanes and are prohibited from operating on rustic trails (dirt). Class 1 ebikes will be allowed on paved and crushed stone multi-use trails. The bills were amended to include clauses allowing any disabled rider to use an ebike on any trail and to allow locals to make the decision for their community.
After extensive research on the pros and cons of ebikes, Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance partnered with the Michigan Environmental Council, League of Michigan Bicyclists and Michigan Trails, Michigan Mountain Biking Association and the North Country Trail Association which led to better understanding between the organizations on ebike issues and helped craft the package of bills.
The law will go into effect in mid-January.