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E-Bikes on Open Space Trails: Yes or No?

Uploaded: Jun 26, 2022

On Wednesday, June 29, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (Midpen) will decide where to allow e-bikes on its 250 miles of trails. Although mountain bikes are permitted on two-thirds of Midpen trails, e-bikes are not allowed. The organization has gotten many requests to allow e-bikes and has recently completed pilots in two of its 26 preserves. The results of those pilots, along with surveys of users on trails that allow e-bikes, a review of scientific literature on the impacts of e-bikes, and a study on the sound emitted by e-bikes have all been written up in a report for the Midpen board. That report will provide context for Wednesday’s 5pm discussion.

E-bikes that have traditionally been commute vehicles are increasingly being used for recreation. Image source: Midpen

Is access for e-bikes consistent with Midpen's mission, which includes both protecting the natural environment and providing opportunities for “ecologically sensitive public enjoyment”? Were the pilots successful enough that e-bikes should be allowed in those areas going forward? Should e-bikes further be allowed on those trails where non-motorized bikes are permitted, or should they be prohibited barring further study?

Mission of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. Source: Midpen

I will briefly review what I learned from reading the report, and look forward to your comments below.

First of all, the pilots seem to have been pretty successful. They occurred on paved or “improved” (e.g., gravel) multi-use trails in the Ravenswood and Rancho San Antonio Preserves, as shown in purple below.

E-bike pilot area in Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. Source: Midpen

E-bike pilot area in Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve. Source: Midpen

The results of the pilots are written up on pages 16-46 of the report. A few speeding incidents involving e-bikes were reported or observed, but the same was true for non-motorized bicycles (page 44). The rates were similar (5.4% vs 3.8%), and the small numbers of e-bikes means it’s hard to deduce much. (Only about 5% of bikes observed were e-bikes.) When people along the trails were surveyed, a large majority (68%) expressed support for Class 1 (pedal-assisted) e-bikes on paved or improved multi-use trails, with fewer (42%) supporting Class 2 e-bikes, which do not require pedaling. The reason for the diminished support seems to be resistance to the fact that the Class 2 e-bikes do not require exercise and/or seem "too much like a motorcycle". (1)

68% of those surveyed in the pilot preserves support Class 1 e-bikes, while only 42% support Class 2 e-bikes. Source: Midpen

This seems very positive, though when you look more closely at the data, the results are less clear. Virtually everyone who was surveyed in Rancho San Antonio was walking, while almost everyone surveyed in Ravenswood was biking.

95% of those surveyed in Rancho San Antonio were walking or jogging, while 79% of those surveyed in Ravenswood were biking. Source: Midpen

The survey results show significantly greater support for e-bikes in Ravenswood. Below is a chart showing support for Class 1 e-bikes by preserve.

For Class 1 e-bikes, 79% of those surveyed in Ravenswood (almost all cycling) are supportive, while only 64% of those surveyed in Rancho (almost all walking) are supportive, and most of that support is for paved trails. Only 29% of those surveyed in Rancho support Class 1 e-bikes on unpaved trails. Source: Midpen

The differences between preserves are equally apparent for Class 2 e-bikes, which can trigger the motor without pedaling.

For Class 2 e-bikes, 50% of those surveyed in Ravenswood (almost all cycling) are supportive, while only 39% of those surveyed in Rancho (almost all walking) are supportive, and most of that support is for paved trails. Only 15% of those surveyed in Rancho support Class 2 e-bikes on unpaved trails. Source: Midpen

I do not think it is appropriate to average these two fairly different sets of feedback, as was done in the main section of the report. Instead I think it is more valid to recognize that e-bikes are relatively welcome by cyclists in areas with many bikes, and less welcome by walkers in areas with fewer bikes.

Midpen also sought feedback about Class 1 e-bikes where they have been allowed on unpaved trails. They surveyed visitors to two parks in Santa Clara County that support these bikes on both paved and unpaved trails. Interestingly, the results show similar or less opposition as the pilots, even among non-cyclists. See pages 47-73 of the report.

Source: Midpen

These parks had many more e-bikes, 10-12% of all riders. Observational data showed similar levels of speeding across bikes and e-bikes, though anecdotal reports reflected proportionally more incidents with e-bikes.

The very positive survey responses surprised me until I looked more closely at the data and realized that nearly 80% of those surveyed were cyclists.

Source: Midpen

Now I’m not sure what to make of them. One thing that seems clear is that cyclists on bike-heavy trails don’t mind adding other cyclists, even on e-bikes, while walkers on bike-light trails are more hesitant. That is no surprise. Since the majority of people surveyed by Midpen (62%) in all four preserves were on bicycles, the results are skewed. In three of the preserves, the large majority of people interviewed (64-90%) were cycling. Only Rancho San Antonio responses are representative of walkers and they are quite different. Just 29% of those surveyed in Rancho support Class 1 e-bikes on unpaved trails.

When Midpen asked for public comment about e-bikes on their web page, over 90% of the comments they got were in favor of allowing e-biking. In board meetings, over 80% of the comments were in favor of allowing e-bikes. But in direct correspondence to the board, over 60% opposed e-bikes. It’s interesting how the responses are so different based on the feedback mechanism. See pages 74-76 of the report.

What do I take away from the pilots and interviews? I believe that e-bikes have not been disproportionately involved in incidents such as speeding to date, they are welcome in bike-heavy preserves, and they are not as welcome in preserves with fewer bikes. But these surveys mainly assess impact on people. What about impact on wildlife and the environment more generally?

A review of scientific literature by the San Francisco Estuary Institute (pages 102-128 of the report) indicates that there are not many studies on the impact of e-bikes in natural areas, and the studies that do exist are often not large enough to be statistically significant. Yes, there is some impact on soil and vegetation, but whether it is meaningfully different from that of non-motorized mountain bikes is not clear and depends on factors like the grade of the trail. Wildlife is initially disturbed by bikes, whether motorized or not, but in some cases animals habituate. For example, deer may initially leave an area when bikes are introduced but then come back within a few years, particularly if their predators are not as keen to come back. The literature is frustratingly inconclusive on the impacts.

Taking another tack, the scientific review asks whether and where e-bikes differ from mountain bikes, so they can look more closely at the differential impact. It identifies a few potential areas of difference: noise, fire risk, conflicts, speed, and miles on trail.

Noise is a potential issue, as described in this specially commissioned study. It found that e-bikes are significantly noisier than traditional bikes, particularly when going uphill. The authors are especially concerned about the higher frequencies that are inaudible to humans but can disturb bats and birds.

Recording the sound of e-bikes. Source: Midpen

Some of the other differences -- risks of fire, conflicts, greater speed -- may also have an impact. The report finds that “(Battery) fires that ignite mid-ride appear to be much less common, although there are documented cases.” Conflicts in preserves may be somewhat greater with e-bike riders, due to visitor concerns about their impact or perceptions that e-bike riders are “cheating”. Regarding speed differences, few studies have looked at relative speeds in practice, though a small study in Boulder found that e-bikes “traveled faster than conventional bikes in uphill settings (13.8 vs. 12.9 mph) and slower in downhill settings (13.5 vs. 15 mph)”. This may be because they also found e-bike riders to be considerably older.

But in my mind none of the above gets at the real question around impact, which I believe is miles traveled. E-bikes will make more trails accessible to more people, and more miles traveled means more impact. How many more riders will we have? How much farther will they go with a motor? And how much more often will they ride with less tired legs? Studies that quantify this effect are thin. For example, one study found that e-bike riders on Colorado public lands were older, averaging 58 rather than 32, suggesting more riders were able to participate. How many more and how much farther will e-bike riders travel? We don’t know.

I’ll go for a somewhat extreme analogy here to explain why I worry about this more than the other effects. If you look at the impact of oxygen tanks on Everest, yes the tanks make a hiss that might bother some animals (if there were any up there). And yes the tanks allow individuals to move a little faster. And yes they can result in some trash on the mountain. But the big impact is none of those things, it is the sheer volume of people who are now able to go up the mountain because they have access to oxygen.

Photo courtesy of Mário Simoes on Flickr

I wish the report focused more on this issue, the tradeoff of greater access with greater impact. Will e-bikes mean that more distant, quieter areas of a preserve get busier? Will relatively unperturbed areas become perturbed? Will speedy downhill bikers become more common as the uphills get more accessible? Will longer and more frequent bike rides mean more wear and tear on trails? The study says that we simply do not know yet. It is early days for the e-bike market. As a result, the report’s authors strongly recommend “adaptive management” if and when we do open up some trails to e-bikes. We should carefully monitor use and impacts and stay apprised of any new scientific studies, and be prepared to adjust policy accordingly.

The Midpen board members are being asked to weigh in on two questions on Wednesday:

Question 1: Should the pilots in Rancho San Antonio and Ravenswood preserves be considered successful, and Class 1 and 2 e-bikes be allowed on the piloted trails?

Question 2: Should we allow Class 1 e-bikes on all other trails and preserves where bikes are allowed, subject to environmental review; should we continue to prohibit e-bikes in those areas; or should we do a pilot of e-bikes on unpaved trails in select preserves?

My take, given what I have read, is that our policies should distinguish between bike-heavy preserves and bike-light preserves. In the former, such as Ravenswood, it seems appropriate to allow Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes on paved and improved trails, and to trial Class 1 e-bikes on all trails where bikes are allowed. However, I would be much more cautious about doing this in bike-light preserves such as Rancho San Antonio. In either case, where we do allow e-bikes, we should be especially careful to monitor impacts on the environment and wildlife, which cannot participate in surveys or speak up in meetings. That will require sufficient funding to hire enough field staff. We should also have careful signage about appropriate behavior/etiquette for riders; a method for collecting impartial feedback; and a way to communicate any changes in policy.

I would also encourage the authors of this report to consider presenting their data in a way that doesn’t average feedback across bike-heavy and bike-light preserves, and that doesn’t get so much of its feedback from cyclists.

What do you think?

Update: You can read about Midpen's decision here.

Notes and References

1. Midpen did not ask about, and is not considering allowing Class 3 bikes. These bikes trigger the motor only upon pedaling, like Class 1, but can attain higher speeds of 28 mph. (Class 1 and 2 bikes are limited to 20 mph.) Of the e-bikes observed in the pilot areas, 59% were Class 1, 28% were Class 2, and 12% were Class 3.

2. Below is a table of e-bike policies in different areas, from the board report.

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Posted by SRB, a resident of St. Francis Acres,
on Jun 26, 2022 at 8:08 am

SRB is a registered user.

Impact of Noise on animal life (even if not affecting humans) should be studied. Anedoctaly, our dog can recognize my electric car from far away.

Personally, I would prefer that Class 2 ebikes (when there is no need to pedal) be categorized as motorcycles (which they are closer to).

As far as allowing ebikes on trails, as a hiker, main concerns are the speed and the weight of these bikes. Maybe allow them on wide trails not on narrow ones?

Posted by eileen , a resident of another community,
on Jun 26, 2022 at 10:58 am

eileen is a registered user.

I haven't read the report, nor am I familiar with the two preserves. From the looks of the maps, it appears that the two trails in purple are very different. The one in Ravenswood looks as though it could be much flatter and less winding. Are both paved? Elevation gain? If Ravenswood attracts more bikers maybe access to e-bikes could be confined to this type of trail. I am more familiar with El Corte Madera OSD Preserve which is very popular with bikers. I am a hiker. I enjoy the quiet, hearing only sounds of nature in the woods, alone with my thoughts, as well as the challenge of a tough trail. In El Corte I try to avoid the all purpose trails not just because of the bikes, but because the heavy use makes them wider, dustier and ugly. They look much like the fire access roads in Tahoe, one of two types of trails there e-bikes are permitted in Tahoe Donner. Just last night I was told of an elderly gentleman in South Lake Tahoe who is physically no longer able to do the strenuous outdoor activities he once did. Now he enjoys his favorite trails on a Class 1 e-bike. We need to try to accommodate him as well.

Posted by Mike Vandeman, a resident of another community,
on Jun 26, 2022 at 6:05 pm

Mike Vandeman is a registered user.

The major harm that mountain biking does it that it greatly extends the human footprint (distance that one can travel) in wildlife habitat. E-bikes multiply that footprint even more. Neither should be allowed on any unpaved trail. Wildlife, if they are to survive, MUST receive top priority!

What were you thinking??? Mountain biking and trail-building destroy wildlife habitat! Mountain biking is environmentally, socially, and medically destructive! There is no good reason to allow bicycles on any unpaved trail!

Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1996: Web Link . It's dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don't have access to trails closed to bikes. They have EXACTLY the same access as everyone else -- ON FOOT! Why isn't that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking....

A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it's not true. To settle the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited, and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see Web Link ). I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

Mountain bikers also love to build new trails - legally or illegally. Of course, trail-building destroys wildlife habitat - not just in the trail bed, but in a wide swath to both sides of the trail! E.g. grizzlies can hear a human from one mile away, and smell us from 5 miles away. ...

Posted by Nearby Resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park,
on Jun 27, 2022 at 7:40 am

Nearby Resident is a registered user.

I am a regular mountain biker. E-bikes allow cyclists to travel farther and ride longer, and thus allowing e-bikes will certainly increase the amount of usage on Mid-Pen trails. This weekend a gentleman outside the local bike shop told me how much he was enjoying his new e-bike on the trails. I asked him if he ever rode a traditional mountain bike. He gestured at his slightly thick midsection and said "Yes, I tried but they don't work for my body type." After a pleasant conversation, I said goodbye and to my surprise he proceeded to light up a cigarette! I thought it was hilarious.

[Portion removed.]

Posted by staying home, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 27, 2022 at 9:30 am

staying home is a registered user.

Agree that the study should cover the fact that ebikes enable an extended range, and therefore have the potential to have more impact per user than a standard bicycle. Another aspect to consider: the more people that enjoy these areas, the more likely they are to protect them. We need people in the outdoors so they develop a desire to protect them.

Posted by Maize, a resident of Ventura,
on Jun 27, 2022 at 10:50 am

Maize is a registered user.

Class 2 ebikes allow some people with disabilities to enjoy biking when they otherwise couldnt. And for me its usually riding with non ebikers. A comparison with motor cycles is a bit much....Class 2 ebikes make much less noise, are typically less bulky/heavy, have much lower top speeds and are generally indistinguishable from class 1 ebikes (which I believe can actually go faster because they combine pedaling with the power from the motor). There are of course legitimate issues to balance here but I hope the situation of less abled people is taken into account.

Posted by Tom Purcell, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Jun 27, 2022 at 1:24 pm

Tom Purcell is a registered user.

I commute from Mountain View to Newark and back. In 2019 I became increasingly dissatisfied with my single occupant vehicle commute, but the Newark industrial area I work in is not well served by public transit and I had limited options for car-pooling. Even without hills, the 17 mile ride was a bit more time than I could dedicate to a daily commute on my regular bike, particularly with the typical afternoon headwinds you fight traveling westbound on Marshland Road in Don Edwards and on the Dumbarton Bridge. The eBike is a nearly perfect compromise between the convenience and speed of my car and the environmental, health and fun advantages of riding a regular bike.

Since 2019 two big projects have vastly improved the quality of the ride--the Ravenswood extension to the bay trail and the new Adobe Creek pedestrian bridge over 101. With these two improvements, a huge portion of my ride from East Meadow and Fabian to Marshland and Thornton is on trails and lightly used roads. On any bike, electric or otherwise, my biggest concern is always the threat posed by inattentive drivers. So having access to the Ravenswood trail (and on the Palo Alto Baylands Train) on my eBike makes this a much more attractive option, making myself and hopefully others choose it over driving more often than not. Since June 1st 2022 I have replaced over 400 miles of car-trips with bike travel.

I certainly hope the board considers the value of access to the Ravenswood trail as a commute route and preserves the ability of eBikes to share this trail with hikers, strollers, bikes and dogs for many years to come.

Posted by Mark Dinan, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Jun 27, 2022 at 1:41 pm

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

I strongly support e-bikes being allowed on the Ravenswood Preserve. This is a major commute route that passes through East Palo Alto, and e-bikes are a key way to take cars off the street. E-Bikes enable many commuters to extend the distances which they can travel and on the recent "Bike Anywhere Day" I met many people on ebikes who were crossing the Dumbarton Bridge to Fremont from Mountain View - this is hard, if not impossible for most people without e-bikes. I met others who were biking to Google or Facebook and using the Ravenswood Preserve bike path as a route. E-Bikes should be permitted as long as they obey the same speed limits and other safety requirements as other bicycles.

Ravenswood is slightly different from other preserves, but in general I think ebikes should be allowed anywhere mountain bikes are allowed - they enable many people to enjoy biking who otherwise would not be biking.

Posted by Deborah, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Jun 27, 2022 at 3:10 pm

Deborah is a registered user.

Maize - It's my understanding that if you have a disability, the bans are waived and you can ride your ebike anywhere you can ride a regular bike in MROSD.

Sherry - Thanks for this thorough and thoughtful examination. I consider this an incredibly important topic. My personal feeling is that allowing ebikes on trails in Windy Hill, Fremont Older, Russian Ridge, El Corte Madera, etc.. would be a terrible err in judgment. I'm horrified it's even being considered.

Posted by Le Levy, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Jun 28, 2022 at 10:51 am

Le Levy is a registered user.

I am a cyclist who has mountain-biked in the past but now need the help of a pedal-assisted e-bike. It would be a special treat to access the wonderful trails of the MROSD even as I get older.

Posted by Carlos, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Jun 28, 2022 at 3:52 pm

Carlos is a registered user.

I've been mt.biking the peninsula trails for over 30 years. I've considered an e-bike as a means to ride longer and reach trails points that I use to be able to reach when I was in my twenties.

A class 2 e-bike doesn't make sense, since they're pretty much light weight motorcycles.

A class 1, makes sense from the perspective of supporting the spirit of the ride, especially when going up steep grades. :) But you'd want to limit the amount of torque/power they produce, to be within the real of say, a very strong rider. Beyond that, you're approaching class 2 bikes with pedals.

Posted by Tom Purcell, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Jun 29, 2022 at 10:27 am

Tom Purcell is a registered user.

Did anyone who attended the meeting last night give a summary for those of us who couldn't join the Zoom live? Did they come to a decision, or what it just a discussion?

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a DanvilleSanRamon.com blogger,
on Jun 29, 2022 at 10:38 am

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

The meeting is tonight at 5pm (see here). If you want to submit a comment, see here.

This meeting is meant to make decisions, not just engage in discussion.

Posted by Tom Purcell, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Jun 29, 2022 at 2:18 pm

Tom Purcell is a registered user.

Thanks Sherry! Clearly I'm not attentive to calendar dates. I have submitted my comments in favor of commuter access to the Ravenswood Preserve.

Posted by Dan Waylonis, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Jun 29, 2022 at 3:44 pm

Dan Waylonis is a registered user.

I support all bicycle types on all paths. Increased mobility and enjoyment of outdoors for all. If there are areas of congestion, post speed limit signs for all bicycles.

Posted by Rachel+G, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Jun 29, 2022 at 4:49 pm

Rachel+G is a registered user.

As a person who has ridden a mountain bike a few times a week in the MidPen preserves for the last 12 years, I worry about e-bikes on the narrow trails with a lot of bends and little visibility. The posted speed limit in the preserves is 15, but is only achievable downhill on a mountain bike without an electric motor. Going uphill using muscle power, your speed is around 5 mph, so a crash between two bikers has a 20 mph speed differential. But e-bikes can go uphill much faster. The energy of a crash (and subsequent damage potential) increases by the square of the speed, so if both bikes are going 15 with a speed differential of 30, the severity of the crash is more than double. The likelihood of a crash is also increased because of less time to react when rounding a curve at higher speeds.

In addition, Sherry makes great points about the increased distances capable on e-bikes because the rider doesn't get as tired. Bikes do squish and kill small animals on the trails, and with e-bikes that would increase due to more bikes going farther and faster. To quote the MidPen website, "Preserves are not parks." And here's another quote: "Midpen has a braided mission to acquire and preserve a regional greenbelt of open space land in perpetuity, to protect and restore the natural environment, and to provide opportunities for ecologically sensitive public enjoyment and education."

The bike commute route through Ravenswood makes sense to me, but e-bikes on twisty single track (usually ferried to the preserves on the back of a car), don't.

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a DanvilleSanRamon.com blogger,
on Jun 29, 2022 at 10:53 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

The Midpen board voted to:

(a) Allow e-bikes on all paved/improved trails in Ravenswood that allow bikes today. This vote was 6-0.

(b) Allow e-bikes on all paved/improved trails in Rancho San Antonio that allow bikes today. This vote was 6-0.

(c) Not allow further expansion of e-bikes. This vote was 4-2.

All agreed that Ravenswood is a terrific commute route for e-bikes and want to preserve it.

All agreed that since the Rancho setup has a parallel path to the e-bike trail for hikers and strollers, and the e-bike path is nearly all paved, and it's already a busy wide trail between parking lot and farm, e-bikes there will have low impact on wildlife/environment.

The discussion around (c) was more nuanced. For those who voted with the majority, there was a lot of emphasis on the mission of Midpen and the role of a preserve vs a park. There was also the sense that we don't know much about e-bike impact, plus they are evolving so rapidly that doing another pilot so quickly won't tell us much. Concern about the extended e-bike range, with impacts on mountain lions in relatively quiet areas of the preserves, was raised years ago. There was also some concern that much of the public was unaware of this decision being made, so the input was not representative. Commissioner Kishimoto dissented, primarily because she sees little difference between bikes and e-bikes, saying the big decision was already made, allowing bikes into the preserves. In addition, she saw value in a pilot, for example one that might allow e-bikes on a main connector such as the Ridge Trail. Commissioner Siemens also dissented as he sees little difference between Class 1 e-bikes and mountain bikes and leans more heavily to the priority of improving access for people.

FWIW, on the awareness side, I have to agree that this was not well communicated. I knew nothing about this, and would have known nothing had I not subscribed to Midpen board meeting emails (and read them). I go to these preserves a lot and subscribe to a few Midpen email lists, yet I knew nothing. Midpen needs to do better, especially on consequential decisions like this.

Posted by chris aoki, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jul 2, 2022 at 8:53 am

chris aoki is a registered user.

When I think of the impact of all bikes (e-bikes or pedaled)
on pedetrians and animals, I think of injuries and fear of
collisions. They ruin the experience of all, especially at
high speeds.

Bikes are vehicles. They should obey traffic laws. They
should only be allowed on paved paths and streets that
are wide enough to provide clearly separated bike lanes.
If you take a bike onto a narrow unpaved path or sidewalk,
that's OK as long as you -always- walk the bike when you're

Just returned from a vacation in Europe that included
some time in Amsterdam where the bikes are fast and
the riders usually don't slow down for pedestrians
crossing their path. But they get their own lanes and
everyone understands that. Look both ways before

Posted by Joel Lachter, a resident of North Whisman,
on Jul 9, 2022 at 3:14 pm

Joel Lachter is a registered user.

A little late for my comments, but I didn't see this until today. I have a class 2 e-trike. One point I don't see being made here is that such a trike can be operated as a class 1, or simply a trike without the assist. I frequently ride up to the farm at Rancho San Antonio and never use the assist function in the park. I do sometimes use the assist function getting to the park; for example, I use the throttle to cross some of the busier roads and, on a couple occasions, to avoid dogs. More generally, I use the assist function to keep up with faster riders on group rides and to avoid arriving at work in a pool of sweat, but leave it off if I am just out for a ride by myself.
Given that, I often wonder, when I see a "no e-bike" sign, what exactly is being banned. If I turn the power off, am I still an e-bike? How about if I disconnect the battery? I also wonder if many of the things that people worry about in the comments above could be better addressed by enforcing rules on behavior rather than equipment. For example, Rancho has a posted 5 mph speed limit. If bikes, cars, runners, strollers, were all actually limited to 5 mph, would anyone care about electric assist?

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