We're on the record, somewhere, as being ambivalent about e-bikes -- that is, bicycles with electric motors that assist the power train. In fact, now that I think about it, we've been downright hostile toward them because, well, they're just kind of lame in the grand scheme of things. They're like Spanx -- they're deceptive and embarassing and make you look better than you really are, and when the clothes are off the truth is out.
Today, California is considering a bill that would "make electric bikes legal." It's news to me that they were previously illegal, but apparently this new bill will provide legislative guidance in classifying what are now defined as "pedelec" bikes. This new definition presumably will answer the question "What's the difference between a moped and a electric motorized bike." And here is the answer: While mopeds and pedelecs share one characteristic -- pedals -- the latter will not generally be allowed to exceed 30 miles per hour. California's pedelec bill will define three classes of electric bike. Class 1 is simple pedal assist bikes, class 2 bikes have a throttle. Neither of these is allowed to exceed 20 MPH. Class 3 pedelecs will be allowed to redline at 28 MPH.
Not clear why these 3 separate classes are necessary, unless California intends to require different driver's licenses for any or all. Considered outside the rarified world of what's cool in cycling these days -- as arbited by Pinch Flat News, naturally -- e-bikes can be a great step forward in Cally's aggressive plan to approach zero emissions as a state within a generation or two. In other words, given a choice between a gas-burning car and an electric bike, we definitely side with the lesser, nerdish evil. To that end, we say: "California state legislature, go for it!"