By definition, e-bikes are bicycles with an electric motor.
By legal definition in the city of Columbus in terms of where and how fast you can travel they are no different than scooters.
E-bike rider Tom Bennett is not only the owner of Orbit City Bikes in Clintonville, but he is also a customer.
“Well, the biggest concern for me as an e-bike dealer is that electric bikes will now not be allowed on roads with speed limits of more than 35-miles an hour in the city of Columbus.”
Bennet says with newly enacted scooter laws that now treat e-bikes the same – it’s not sales he’s concerned about slowing down, it’s his trip to work.
“Well, it’s about a-mile-and-a-half, I could be here in less than 10-minutes. Now it’s more than double. It’s closer to 4-miles and it’s going to take me around 20-25 minutes,” he said.
Monday night, Columbus City Council approved new scooter laws that include e-bikes.
Now neither can be ridden on streets where speed limits are 35-miles-per-hour or more unless there’s a bike lane.
They also cannot be parked on sidewalks or operated at more than 20 miles an hour and must have front and rear lights.
Columbus City Council Public Service and Transportation Committee Chair Emmanuel Remy said the changes balance safety with technology.
“We believed that providing people guidelines on how to use these things, where they should use them and do it in a safe and efficient manner is the right thing to do,” said Remy.
As with his longer commute, Bennet said he’s trying to be patient with city council while hoping they soon backpedal on including e-bikes in these new scooter rules.
“Lumping e-bikes with e-scooters in this legislation was not the right thing to do, but it was a rush to get these scooters regulated and they just threw e-bikes in there,” he said.
Ohio lawmakers are working through e-bike regulations that would separate them into three categories based on speed. State laws would override those in local municipalities and cities throughout Ohio, including Columbus.