Empowering technology e-bikes

At the 2016 2WALKandCYCLE Conference in Auckland from 6 to 8 July, John Lieswyn in a paper co-authored with Axel Wilke, presented on E-bikes: legislation, policy and design considerations of an empowering technology.

With improving batteries and economies of scale driving lower prices, electric bicycles (e-bikes) are becoming more popular worldwide. Specialty retailers are opening across New Zealand to cater for demand. However, in contrast to most countries, New Zealand legislation regulates motor power and is silent on motor assistance cut-out speed. More powerful batteries and controllers supplying high amperage can enable any otherwise legal motor to propel an e-bike to speeds well in excess of 40 km/h.

Legislators must respond quickly to keep pace with technological and marketplace changes, minimise harm to road and path users, and support the positive benefits of e-bikes. To help inform any legislative change, this paper clarifies e-bike definitions, discusses the range of technologies including motor types and electric cargo bicycles, and describes regulatory criteria commonly used overseas. Finally, e-bikes increase the variance in operating speeds and the prevalence of larger bicycles that can carry people, pets, and cargo. 

The peer-reviewed paper, which is available on our website, suggests aspects of cycleway design that should be updated to better accommodate e-bikes. As the paper was presented in a "couch story" presentation style, no slides were prepared that could be reproduced here.




Where presented/published

2016 2WALKandCYCLE Conference, Auckland