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A Rare Opportunity to Weigh in on E-Bike Safety Rules

Earlier this month, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) related to mechanical hazards of e-bikes. There are no new rules proposed in the ANPRM and its purpose is to collect information about future rules. So this is a rare opportunity to weigh in as bicyclists and share our experiences with e-bikes. Comments are due May 14th. We encourage you to submit your own answers to the CPSC’s questions so the agency has a breadth of information and input to draw from. 

While the ANPRM touches on many issues — there are 52 specific questions — the League of American Bicyclists sees the biggest issues as:

  • Whether the CPSC will adopt a version of the 3-class system used by many states and how their version might align with state approaches,
  • Whether the CPSC will exercise its authority over higher speed out-of-class e-bikes or express a belief that they should be regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration instead, and
  • Whether new equipment standards, such as braking and lighting system requirements, will be proposed.

Batteries and electrical hazards are outside the scope of this comment period. All comments should be submitted through and include a reference to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the comment period docket number CPSC-2024-0008. 

The League opposes policies and programs that discourage or suppress bicycling and is concerned about inconsistent labeling and inconsistent mechanical abilities, particularly related to speed, that might lead to communities and land managers discouraging or suppressing bicycling due to the inability to differentiate between bicycles and e-bikes with much different performance characteristics. The League believes that Class 1 e-bikes that require pedaling for electric assist and do not provide assist above 20 mph are functionally the same as unassisted e-bikes and should be treated as such. 

The League would like to see the 3-class system adopted by the CPSC with strong labeling and mechanical requirements that restrict an e-bike to one class of operation so that communities and land managers that use the 3-class system to regulate bicycle access can rely upon the standardized labels and mechanical consistency. 

Out-of-class e-bikes, including e-bikes sold with out-of-class top speeds marketed for off-road use, can threaten bicycle access to shared use paths, natural surface trails, and other public facilities. Some people use the term out-of-class electric vehicle (OCEV) to differentiate between in-class e-bikes and out-of-class electric vehicles that should not be marketed or regulated as e-bikes due to consumer and access manager confusion.

For individual bicyclists, bicycle education instructors, and bicycle advocates, the League suggests the following guidance when commenting:

  • Provide your personal experiences with e-bikes, with an emphasis on how the 3-class system is useful to your community and any mechanical issues you may have experienced with e-bikes. Questions that may be of particular interest to people with experiences riding e-bikes may be:
    • Question 6. “What are some relevant factors we should consider in the definition of an e-bike ( e.g., weight, throttle capabilities, pedal-assist capabilities, speed governors, motor power (watts) and batteries).”
    • Question 21. “Do e-bikes, due to their heavier weight or other factors, need different performance requirements for braking, particularly for disc brakes, which are used in e-bikes but are not included in the current bicycle standards?”
    • Question 25. “Is it appropriate to have marking, labeling, instructional literature, and/or packaging requirements specific to e-bikes (especially for new riders)? If so, what are some important points that the Commission should include?”
  • If you have any experiences with e-bikes marketed for use by children, please share them and what aspects of those e-bikes made them more or less safe for children of the intended age.
    • Consider Question 15. “What are the developmental capabilities of children to understand and operate e-bikes, including electric balance bikes, and how does that relate to maximum speeds of the products?”
    • Consider Question 31. “CPSC is aware of ASTM work item, ASTM WK88946, New Specification for Electric Powered Balance Bike. Do electric balance bikes need different performance requirements than other e-bikes?”
  • If you have had negative experiences with out-of-class e-bikes that can exceed 20 mph with a throttle or 28 mph with pedal assistance, please share them. Negative experiences may include limited trail access due to a jurisdiction’s confusion about e-bike types, or personal experiences of negative interactions where speed or operational capabilities played a role.
    • Consider weighing in on Question 5. “How broadly should the Commission define e-bikes (beyond low-speed e-bikes) to reflect recent developments in the product category? For example, we can include all e-bikes except for those that meet the definition of a motor vehicle in 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(7).” 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(7) says “‘motor vehicle’ means a vehicle driven or drawn by mechanical power and manufactured primarily for use on public streets, roads, and highways, but does not include a vehicle operated only on a rail line.” According to a 2008 interpretation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  “‘believe[s] that vehicles with speeds of over 20 mph are capable of on-road operation,’ and therefore fall within their purview.”

What to expect next:

  • This is an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking meaning CPSC wants to hear what issues exist and will take comments to inform a future Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
  • A future Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be expected within a year or so with specific proposed regulations.
  • A Final Rule will be issued sometime in the future, likely within a year or so of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. (One CPSC Commissioner who has expressed an interest in this type of rulemaking has her term expiring in October 2025, so the rulemaking may be completed by that time.)
  • Once a Final Rule is in place, all new e-bikes sold to consumers in the United States must comply with the Final Rule.
  • The CPSC can use fines and recall authority to enforce its Final Rule.