Newsletter Policy

New Michigan laws on electric bikes

Terry Walker's Rickshaw Detroit Pedicab has this electric bikeElectric bikes (aka eBikes) are becoming more popular. Until this week, state law was unclear on their classification and use in Michigan. (See MTGA information below)

That’s all changed. Governor Snyder signed legislation this week to define and regulate electric bike use on roads and trails. There’s now a page on the Coalition web site that has more information on these changes.

How does this legislation affect Detroit much?

Not too much. Only the lower-powered pedal assist bikes are now allowed on linear paved trails like the Dequindre Cut, SW Greenlink, Conner Creek Greenway, etc. They likely are already on these trails. eBike sales may increase and get more people riding and riding longer distances. This would lead to greater demand for biking facilities, especially for non-stop travel. Longer term bike parking areas should incorporate charging stations. It’s unlikely this will affect trail maintenance demands.

We are having some discussions with city park staff and Council member Scott Benson regarding city ordinances, which are unclear about any bike riding on park paths. That’s something that could be clarified by updating old ordiances. Also, the paved walking paths in city parks are not linear (like a rail-trail) so this state legislation does not seem to apply to them.

All of these electric bikes are allowed on Detroit roads, bike lanes, and sidewalks.

Will this increase user conflicts?

Allowing these bike on sidewalks is a concern for bicycle-pedestrian interactions. The best solution is to provide safe on-road bike facilities that get most bicyclists off the sidewalks. Without providing this better alternative, other cities (e.g. Royal Oak) have found bicyclists largely ignore any sidewalk restrictions.

We’ll certainly learn more as this technology is adopted. I am hesitant to being overly concerned now because I still remember the fear mongering some bicyclists did when Segways were introduced — and that didn’t pan out.


Background and Analysis from MTGA

Many observers have noted that this legislation is needed because e-bikes are currently not classified under Michigan law. They are, however, being sold and used. Legislation is thought to be needed by many to bring clarity to the law for retailers and owners, members of the insurance industry and owners and operators of trails.

Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance (MTGA) was part of a workgroup that assisted in drafting the bill language together with the League of Michigan Bicyclists (LMB), the Michigan Mountain Bike Association (MMBA), the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), PEAC, People for Bikes (an industry group), Bosch and other interest groups. The drafting process started with draft language from California and suggestions from People for Bikes.

The workgroup held 12 meetings over a period of four months. The draft language was then reviewed with trail owners and managers, including Michigan Department of Transportation, (MDOT), the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC), the Michigan Townships Association (MTA), the Michigan Municipal League (MML) and the Michigan Parks and Recreation (m-Parks), through several meetings.

Electric bicycles are popular alternatives to traditional bicycles in many states and are also particularly popular in areas outside the United States. There are important management issues with electric bicycles and legitimate concerns have been expressed with allowing electric bicycles on natural surface trails, thus providing for local control is an important component of these bills.


News from the Trail – November 2017

Bike Trails and Cocktails

Thanks to everyone who attended our Bike Trails and Cocktails event last month. We hope everyone came away with a thorough overview of where we’re at and where we’re heading with respect to new trails, better biking, and so much more.

Thanks to presenters from both the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (on the Gordie Howe International Bridge) and the City of Detroit Planning Department. We are thrilled to be part of your big plans for moving the city and the region forward.

Thanks again to our sponsors who made this event possible: SmithGroup JJR, Hamilton Anderson, and LivingLAB.

Joe Louis Greenway

Last week the city moved forward with plans to rename the Inner Circle Greenway. With the Joe Louis Arena soon being demolished, Mayor Mike Duggan and others sought a worthy replacement. Naming the city’s longest trail after its greatest athlete lifts both. We are fully onboard with this as is the Joe Louis family. That’s not surprising since Joe Louis’ son is a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy board member.

We’ve written more about Louis, the origins of the original name and more on our web site. We’ve also updated our Joe Louis Greenway page with additional information and a timeline for the trail’s expected completion.

With our Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Doppelt Family Fund grant, we are updating our greenway trail map. We expect to have those available by the end of the year.

We are also working with the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance on a Michigan Senate Resolution in support of this greenway and its renaming.

Detroit 2017 Detroit Voter Guide

The Coalition is one of the original members of the Detroit Environmental Agenda. We recently published a Detroit Voter’s Guide where we asked all of the mayoral and council candidates their thoughts on environmental issues. If you’re a Detroit voter, this is for you!

Electric Bikes Legislation

Electric bikes (aka eBikes) are becoming more popular. Until this week, Michigan law was unclear on their classification and use in Michigan.

That’s all changed. Governor Snyder signed legislation this week to define and regulate electric bike use on roads and trails. There’s now a page on the Coalition web site that has more information on these changes.

In general, electric bicycles can operate on Detroit streets and bike lanes. Lower-powered pedal assist bikes can use paved linear paths like the Dequindre Cut, SW Greenlink, Conner Creek Greenway, and RiverWalk — though that could be changed by local authorities. These bikes are probably already operating on these trails.

We don’t expect many changes on the trails except that we may see more people using them. The state laws do give local authorities the ability to regulate (and de-regulate) electric bikes.