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I'm strongly considering an eBike for my wife. The main reason is because she would be allowed by law to use it in bike lanes and paths. This would present her with a much safer way of commuting between CTA or Metra stops than an underpowered motorcycle (< 50cc ).

I just read another post which showed an incredible amount of disdain for eBikes. Why does everyone seem to assume that eBikers are merely being lazy?

My wife is 63 years old and suffers from fibromyalgia, scoliosis, arthritis, nystagmus and positional vertigo. Surprisingly the vertigo isn't triggered by cycling since all g-forces are more mild than driving a car. If she ever does get dizzy (it's never happened on a bike) she can simply put her feet down.

Cycling is a perfect exercise due to its low impact but often the intensity is too high, especially on windy days or when riding across the overpasses on the LFP. An eBike would give her back her mobility, and may even allow her to join me on my training rides.

We all know cyclists, with all sorts of bikes, who don't exhibit proper behavior. That doesn't mean that everyone who owns a particular type of bike deserves to be ostracized by the cycling community.

But I'm worried about how Brenda will be treated on our trails if I do buy her an eBike. Why can't we at least be civil to one another?

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Very thoughtful post!

EBikes are legal to ride in bike lanes and on Chicago's Lake Front Trail. Because they are limited to a top speed of 20 mph and have operable pedals they are treated like bicycles according to Illinois state law.

Two wheeled vehicles which cannot be pedaled or which can exceed 20mph are classified as scooters (or motorcycles) and require both plates and endorsed licenses.

If, as suggested, certain trails are not safe for eBikes, the issue is really not the ebike. It would be traveling too fast down a crowded or difficult trail. Slowing down all riders on those sections would make more sense.

What's so hard about posting signage or adding speed control devices where needed?

Here is a link to the Illinois statute:

Recent article and info from the weekend Midwest E-bike Expo in Lincolnwood.

Did not realise that there was an age restriction of 16. I wonder why they did that as an e-bike with a 20 mph limit is classified as a bicycle and no plates/license requirement. I could see if plates/license were required how that would eliminate the under 16 crowd. That seems unfair to some of the under 16 kids who for many reasons need a pedal assist bike.

There is a little bit of what I would call mis-information in the article when they mention a bike going 28 mph. If it can do that without pedal assist in Illinois it is no longer a bicycle, but a moped or scooter and that means a drivers license and plates requirement.

Brian - any update?  Has she gotten an ebike?  If so, how does she like it?

My brother purchased an eBike - a Sondors. It was fascinating to ride. It would assist up to 20mph. Above that, it provided no assistance at all, creating a very effective governor.

I opted not to buy her an eBike as she was in too much pain to even ride it. And I feared that I would be tempted to use it on my commutes, negating a large part of my training.

If we can get Brenda's pain under control, I might reconsider. She ended up with a new iPad for her birthday.

Thanks for the update.  I'm a bit dismayed.  In the absence of, say, a municipal ordinance to the contrary, this statute makes any electrically-motorized scooter that goes up to 20 miles an hour an e-bike, even if it can't be pedaled at all.  Also, it would allow e-bikes capable of going 28 miles an hour to be on bike paths.  This is just what I thought would happen -- allowing motor scooters on bikeways everywhere, and excessively fast ones to boot.  Clearly a product of the e-bike lobby.     

And it gives municipalities the option of banning some E-Bikes depending ultimately upon the behavior of those users on individual trails.



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