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Can anyone help me with this question? Are motorized bikes (with a gas engine) or E-Bikes allowed on the Lakefront path? There seems to be some ambiguity regarding this issue.


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I am less concerned with what the machine can do and much more concerned with what it is doing.  If an E bike is riding like a bike I am fine with it. It is is flying at 20+ I have a problem. If an E bike acts like a motorcycle on the bike  path it is being driven by a pig. If the E bike acts like a bike it is being ridden by a cyclist who needs a bit of a push and good for him/her for being out there.  I have a friend in his late 70's who still rides with our friends but now uses an "assist" to keep up. When I struggle up a hill he does so without breaking a sweat. I am happy to ride with him. I see this the same way as the last 30 yards of my commute. I come off the Dearborn lane and stay on my bike as I ride like a pedestrian the short distance to the spot where I lock up. I am deferential and proceed at a  walking pace. I understand that this logic could be used to justify a car attempting to act like a bike  to drive on a path and will have to live with that incongruity. 

E-bikes have their uses, particularly as David Barish describes.  Anything that helps people keep cycling longer into their lives, and cycling more, has some utility.  However, as I've been said before, allowing e-bikes on bike trails isn't a good idea.  I'd grudgingly support it at this point if e-bikes were limited to a top speed of 15 miles an hour, including pedal assist.  I'd also support exceptions for senior citizens and people with physical disabilities who would not otherwise be able to ride.  If everyone is allowed to take e-bikes on paths, I guarantee that tons of people will be on them with e-bikes going a lot faster than either 15 or 20.  I'm sure there are already e-bike hackers souping them up.  I'm also sure there's already an e-bike lobby pushing for them to be legal anywhere bikes are legal.  There's money in it, right?     

I'm also sure there's already an e-bike lobby pushing for them to be legal anywhere bikes are legal.  There's money in it, right?

I think you'd have to assume that is the case. Anywhere there is a buck to be made, a lobby won't be far behind.

I'm totally against limiting E-bikes (electric battery powered) to a unreasonably slow and unsafe 15 mph. As a lifelong cyclist who is maturing in age and may very soon be in the market for a suitable E-bike for occasional use, and knows how to handle a bike properly at speed, I still don't understand the fear in this forum about E-bikes.

Limited E-bikes are fine, but I am seeing ads for 6000 watt monsters, with a claimed top speed of 120 KM/Hr.  There has to be some common sense limits somewhere.

Agreed, I used the word 'reasonable' in the context of safe E-bike speed. It has always been up to the common sense of any type of rider of how they travel safely.
There are Strava weenies that ride at excessive speeds on the LFP. The only difference is that less skilled riders are able to ride faster with an eBike.

In both cases, I let them pass and keep my mouth shut. If the crash, I don't want to be on their wheel. The dire scenario that everyone rides eBikes inappropriately is unlikely. The argument which presents that outcome is fear mongering.

Is this any different than the idiot riding a motorcycle between lanes during rush hour, or Mario Andretti in his beemer weaving in and out of traffic on LSD?

I think we would be better served teaching cyclists to be better citizens on the trails. Or advocating for signage and PSAs to ride at slower speeds when the paths are congested.

1 HP = .75 KW.  But a "1 HP" gas engine would deliver far less than that, maybe 15%, to the wheels.  A 0.75 KW electric motor would deliver nearly all of it.  Net effect, a 750 watt electric motor would be much faster.

I assume the law refers to brake HP, in which case they'd be more or less equally 'fast'.  The electric motor would have much better acceleration from stop, though, because of it's much higher torque at low rpm.

Fear?  Pragmatic, rational perspective on the ability of most folks to control a 45 pound bike, under speed, in potentially unsafe conditions...

E-bikes are motorcycles.  Unless constrained to 15MPH, or under, they have no place on the LFP (and similar).

And, as to the argument of, "well, I am a long-time cyclist and just happen to be getting older..."  Bunk.  If you are an aging cyclist, what supports your belief of being able to manage a heavier, faster bike with worsening/decreasing capacity to react and respond?  With less strength?

Nope, sorry, that is completely irrational.

Finally, as a point of reference, I do not care what you do to yourself (in an e-bike incident), it is the collateral damage of the amateur e-biker that needs some cover and protection.

Jon M., you really need to change your ageist attitude. You know nothing about the bicycle handling skills of someone you've never met or just categorized as incapable because of their age.

E-bikes are not motorcycles. The Harley guys would laugh at you and say you're nuts (or something much more vulgar) if you think that they are. I said that they should not be limited to only 15mph (max speed) for the purpose of safe acceleration in traffic. Just like with a car, you don't always go full throttle at 110mph but you can accelerate quickly for safety. And top max speed for bikes I'm considering are about 23mph. That doesn't mean I want to blow ozone fumes out at you and blast past you on the LFT at top speed. That's not what a sensible and safe E-bike cyclist should do on the trail.

You're completely irrational if you can't understand that any bike, with whatever it weighs (~25+lbs) plus your weight (~220lbs) could also pack a solid wallop of mass and inertia in a trail crash that your handling skills could possibly fail at performing. It could happen, you are human, right?

You made these statements on an E-bike thread on 6-9-16. . . ."(for the record my f-ass is 6ft, 220lbs, so my comments are not the perspective of a skinny roadie.") So we're about the same size and weight. And my MTB I ride most of the time downtown on the LFT weighs about 30+lbs. So I try to careful and considerate while riding on the congested LFT during the nicer weather.

The final point is, you can be an idiot with any type of bike, or not. It's all up to whatever type of rider you are.

And I do care that other cyclists in this community ride safely and not injure themselves or others no matter what their age or gender or style of riding happens to be. Don't you? If not, then why are you even here?


I race (poorly) at the Masters level...  The old guys are my better by almost every measure...  Fitness, handling, tolerance for pain...  You name it...  These guys, who validate my ageist attitude would be more than capable, in the early years of their decline, to manage a heavier bike at speed...  And, you are correct, there likely exist folks who, as you describe, have the ability, strength, and reaction speed, to manage an e-bike in traffic, on a path like the LFP...  Of course, having used the lake path since '94 when I moved into the city, I have yet to meet these unicorns.

A bike with a motor?  Motorbike.  Yep, solved it.  Is it as powerful as a Ducati?  A (cliche) Harley?  No. Does it satisfy the definition of motorized?  Yep, still does.

We are all human, hopefully, each of us has developed the ability to bail out without ANY collateral damage.  I have scars from my moments of failure...  Thankfully, I have not created any external damage.  The "when" is the difference...

I appreciate your consideration and care - you are the unicorn of whom I speak.  Sadly, I would hypothesize you are, should you be able to exceed the bar you have set for yourself, the exception to the rule...

You are correct, we are all guilty of periodic stupidity...  However, some of us, with experience, realize how to be an idiot without putting ANYONE ELSE AT RISK.  Again, my 20+ years of experience on the LFP suggest there are many who are incapable of processing this simple, pragmatic analysis of when and how to take risk.

I am glad to share my learning experiences, both good and bad, to help and protect other cyclists...  However, I know that only YOU (metaphorically, not literally) can control you...  I don't pretend to be able to save you from yourself.



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