Paul Basken’s July 30 Local Opinions commentary on electric-assist bicycles [“Let’s keep our bike trails motor-free”] bristled with concern about a problem he failed to articulate.
In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act limits low-speed electric bicycles to 20 mph, whether they are equipped with a maximum 750-watt motor or something smaller. Anything exceeding that is regulated by the federal Transportation Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as a “motor vehicle.”
Mr. Basken’s argument lacked accident or mortality data. It implied some vague safety threat, but what really eats at e-bike opponents is the feeling that electric assist is somehow cheating. Their solution is to relegate e-bikes to the tender mercies of the District’s streets.
Speaking as a lifelong bicyclist now in his 60s, I can assure readers that e-bike riders do not seek to show up other cyclists; we just want to get to the top of that next hill. Anyone truly worried about bike path dangers should advocate speed limits (which the Capital Crescent Trail already has), not product bans.
Richard Cowden, Takoma Park
Paul Basken’s commentary imploring local officials to keep our trails motor-free failed to convey a parade of horribles that would result from the onslaught of electric bicycles on our trails. Indeed, the essay led me to quite the opposite conclusion: Technology that makes it easier for us to get out of our steel cocoons may not be a bad thing.
Marchant Wentworth, Washington