At this point, it's no secret that e-bikes are pretty cool. They’re practical, affordable (most of the time), good for the environment (again, most of the time), and most of all, fun. That being said, e-bikes aren’t without their faults. Their easy maneuverability and minimal security systems make them prime targets for theft, as well as folks riding unauthorized e-bikes on city streets.
Unsurprisingly, the authorities have taken notice of this, and are now making use of e-bikes to catch crooks on e-bikes. Talk about fighting fire with fire. A recent report by our friends at Electrek highlighted that police departments incorporating e-bikes into their fleet of patrol vehicles is indeed a growing trend. It makes lots of sense, really, especially in dense urban settings where crowd control and maintaining peace and order can be quite a challenge on foot, or on a standard bike for that matter.
It’s been reported that there’s a rise in crackdowns on private e-bike use in multiple jurisdictions, particularly when it comes to non-street-legal e-bikes, or e-bikes that have been customized to go much faster than they were designed to. Naturally, these unauthorized e-bikes or heavily modified machines pose a threat not only to the safety of the rider, but to other road users and pedestrians alike. These non-street-legal bikes aren’t equipped with the necessary components to be safe on the road – such as lights, turn signals, or mirrors.
Electrek highlights that specific bikes such as the Sur Ron and Talaria electric two-wheelers have been spotted several times on public roads. The manufacturers themselves make it clear as day that their bikes are not street-legal, and intended for off-road use only. Furthermore, the report states that new regulations in certain jurisdictions, in particular Washoe County, Nevada, are now prohibiting e-bikes from riding on bike paths, instead mandating road use alongside cars and other traffic.
On top of this new ordinance, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office has employed electric bikes for its patrol duties. The department is making use of six Recon Power e-bikes specifically for patrolling and enforcing proper bike path usage by electric bicycle riders. Instead, bike paths must be used specifically by non-electric bicycles.
Indeed, these growing restrictions against e-bikes may be deemed as necessary by some, however, advocates for this type of mobility are wondering why governments don’t just invest more heavily on infrastructure designed to embrace this growing means of mobility. Personally, I think it’s always about striking a balance – continue developing bicycle-focused infrastructure, while at the same time implementing reasonable rules and regulations surrounding the use of e-bikes, especially high-power models.