Below are the bills that have been filed which MassBike will support for the 2019-2020 legislative session.
1. An Act requiring the hands-free use of mobile telephones while driving
Filed by: Representative Joseph Wagner and Representative Paul Donato (HD1534) Senator Mark Montigny (SD1383)
Docket Numbers: HD1534 and SD1383
This bill would ban the use of handheld electronic devices while driving. Distracted driving is a public health epidemic on our roads that causes nine fatalities a day and injures nearly 400,000 people annually across the US (NHTSA). This bill would reduce overall phone use when people are behind the wheel, decreasing driver distraction. This bill would assist police officers in enforcing the ban on texting while driving, which is ineffective because police officers cannot easily tell whether a driver is texting or dialing a phone number.
What this legislation does:
- Authorizes police officers to stop and issue citations to motorists using handheld mobile electronic devices
- Determines a penalty of $100 for a first offense, by a fine of $250 for a second offense and by a fine of $500 for a third or subsequent offense.
Success in other states:
If passed in Massachusetts, this law would bring the Commonwealth in line with 16 other states - including the neighboring states of NH, VT, NY, CT and RI. Recent data from Georgia shows a 22% decrease in driver distraction (“swiping and typing”) after they enacted their hands-free law (TrueMotion).
2. An Act Relative to automated enforcement
Filed by: Senator William Brownsberger (SD1461)
Docket Numbers: SD1461
This bill would allow red light cameras and speed cameras to be placed in certain locations by local option. Violations would include speeding, failure to stop at a red light, illegal turn on red, and failure to stop for a school bus.
What this legislation does:
- Enables a municipality to determine where cameras should be placed, within certain density and safety parameters
- Provides restrictions around use and dissemination of images in order to protect drivers’ and vehicle owners’ privacy
- Determines a maximum penalty of $25 for each violation, which will not be counted as a criminal conviction and will not be made part of the operating record of the vehicle owner (will not add points to the owner’s license, affect insurance premiums, or result in license revocation).
- Creates procedures for notifying the public about locations where cameras are in use
Success in other states:
When enacted in other states, automated enforcement has reduced speeding and serious crashes.
Over 400 U.S. communities use red light cameras and over 130 communities in the U.S. use cameras to enforce speed laws (NCSL). A review of 28 Automated Speed Enforcement studies found that cameras reduced crashes between 8-49% (NTSB’s report). In Maryland, a study showed that the proportion of drivers traveling more than 10 mph above the speed limit declined by about 70% for locations with warning signs and speed camera enforcement [Traffic Injury Prevention Journal].
3. An Act to reduce traffic fatalities
Filed by: Senator William Brownsberger (SD847) and Representative Jonathan Hecht, Representative Mike Rogers (HD1653)
Docket Numbers: SD847 and HD 1653
An Act to reduce traffic fatalities would ensure basic, but necessary traffic regulations to guarantee that everyone on our streets can expect to get from point A to point B safely. This bill would achieve several traffic safety goals including equipping state-contracted trucks with safety side guards, setting a safe passing distance of at least three feet, lowering speed limits on state roads, and more.
What this legislation does:
- Lowers the default speed limit on state highways and parkways in thickly settled areas from 30 mph to 25 mph
- Require state-contracted trucks to be equipped with safety side-guards and mirrors to reduce fatalities of people walking and biking
- Defines ‘vulnerable road users’ to include people walking and biking; roadside workers; people using wheelchairs, scooters, skateboards, roller skates, etc.
- Sets a safe passing distance of vulnerable road users of at least three feet
- Develops a standardized analysis tool to be used to report crashes and incidents involving a person biking or walking
Why is this legislation needed?
In Massachusetts, electric bicycles lack a specific vehicle classification, causing them to to fall within terms primarily aimed at combustion engine vehicles such as mopeds or scooters. These classifications that were never intended to apply e-bikes. This legal scheme creates significant confusion for consumers and retailers, and hinders the electric bicycle market. In order to clarify state law and properly regulate electric bicycles like traditional bicycles, it is critical to understand the existing legal rules that govern electric bicycles.
What other states use the classification system in this bill?
Michigan, Illinois, Connecticut, Arizona, Washington, Tennessee, Arkansas, Colorado, Utah, and California.
Why is the top speed for Class 3 e-bikes 28 MPH?
These rules would provide uniform product standards between the US and European markets, where bikes with a top speed of 45 kph (approximately 28mph) are classified as a “speed pedelec.”
I have read the federal definition of an e-bike and it says that the top speed is 20MPH. How are class 3 e-bikes legal given the federal definition?
The 20 MPH threshold applies when the e-bike is being operated “solely” under motor power. However, e-bikes are most commonly ridden under a combination of human and motor power. The federal definition does not provide a top speed for when an e-bike is being operated under combined human and motor power. The class 3 definition clarifies this ambiguity by specifying the maximum assisted speed for e-bikes at 28MPH.
Can e-bikes be safely operated on bike paths?
Yes. Researchers who have compared riders of e-bikes and regular bikes at the University of Tennessee observed that e-bikes riders exhibit similar safety behavior as riders of traditional bicycles. Perhaps most importantly, e-bike riders traveled at similar speeds to riders of human powered bicycles. They rode slightly faster when riding on the road (+1.8 mph), but actually slower than regular bikes riders when on bicycle paths (-1 mph).
Why not regulate e-bikes at the federal level?
E-bikes have been regulated federally since 2002. However, as with other consumer products, the federal regulations are limited to product safety. They do not specify where e-bikes may be ridden or what rules of the road govern their use. While the federal government can intervene in these matters in very rare situations, the rules of the road are generally a matter of state law. Other emerging technologies have followed the same path of creating new state traffic laws to address the use of these devices on our streets. This includes segways, autocycles, and commercial quadricycles.
How can anyone tell what an e-bike is?
E-bikes are becoming more and more difficult to distinguish from regular bicycles. The labeling requirement in the model bill is a proactive measure on behalf of the industry to ensure that law enforcement or land managers can easily tell that a bicycle is in fact an e-bike, and quickly asses which type of e-bike it is.
Can people tamper with e-bikes?
Like other mechanized or motorized devices, it possible that a user could tamper with an e-bike. We have inserted a tampering provision in the model bill that will place the onus on the owner to have a properly labeled bike if that were to occur. If a someone was to tamper with an e-bike and create a machine that can travel faster than any of the specified classifications of e-bikes, they would presumably be operating an unlicensed and unregistered vehicle, and would be subject to any applicable penalties.
Does the bill regulate e-bikes off-road?
No, it only amends the traffic laws located in the revised vehicle code. The bill will provide rules for the regulation of e-bikes on our streets and on bicycle paths. The bill does not address the use of e bike on trails.
Who is the typical purchaser of an e-bike?
All types of people purchase and use e-bikes, especially older, baby-boomer purchasers, parents who want to carry children as passengers and cargo, and people who prefer the purchase of an e-bike over a car.
How many e-bike are sold each year in the U.S.?
Approximately 260,000 e-bikes are sold annually in the U.S. However, they are the fast growing segment of the bicycle sales, with approximately 75% year over year growth.
How much do e-bikes cost?
Entry-level e-bikes are about $1,500.
Why distinguish between class 1 and class 2 e-bikes in the bill if the rules are the same?
The distinction between these two types of e-bikes provides for greater local flexibility. Some municipalities have demonstrated an interest in prohibiting throttle-powered e-bikes from certain types of infrastructure, and this bill provides the flexibility to take those measures if they are desired on a local level.
Does the rider have to be pedaling for the e-bike's motor to be engaged?
It depends on the type of e-bike. For Class 1 and Class 3 e-bikes, the rider must be pedaling for the motor to be engaged. For Class 2 e-bikes, the motor can propel the e-bike without the rider pedaling.
FAQ created with help from
The use of electric-assist bicycles (“e-bikes”) has grown rapidly over the last 5 years. Modern e-bikes often look indistinguishable from a “regular” bike but have robust batteries and technology which are capable of sensing when a rider needs a helping hand over a hill, into a headwind, or accelerating from a stop. While e-bikes have existed for years, recent advances in technology have allowed batteries to become smaller, lighter, cheaper, and longer range, enhancing the usefulness, appeal, and affordability of these machines. E-bikes appeal to many types of people but particularly for those who use them as a tool to overcome limited physical fitness, for people running everyday errands who want to carry heavier loads, and for parents transporting children. In addition, several bike share systems have begun adding e-bikes to their fleet in Pioneer Valley, in the LimeBike network, and elsewhere around the system, enhancing the appeal of bikeshare for everyday riding.
Unfortunately, in Massachusetts the laws around e-bikes were written with mopeds and scooters in mind, before the widespread adoption of modern battery technology. As e-bike sales continue to climb and bike share operators seek to integrate these into their fleets, opportunity for conflict and confusion with existing laws will grow.
Current E-Bike Law in Massachusetts
Under Massachusetts state law, an e-bike can be interpreted as being a “motorized bicycle” which would make e-bikes subject to different rules of the road from regular bicycles, such as:
E-bike riders must carry a driver’s license and are subject to registration requirements.
No one under 16 years of age can use an e-bike.
E-bikes are prohibited from all bike paths, as well as all sidewalks, regardless of local context.
Our Proposed Changes:
MassBike is proposing to update Massachusetts’ e-bike law to differentiate between low-speed and higher-speed electric bicycles. While regulatory control would remain with the juridictions, landowners, and departments, MassBike suggests low-speed electric bicycles be treated like regular bicycles, while higher-speed e-bikes would have additional safety requirements.
The same rules of the road would apply to both e-bikes and human-powered bicycles when it comes to speed, proper passing, following local traffic laws, obeying posted speed limits, and other state and local ordinances.
The proposed change would be consistent with laws already passed in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington.
Our proposal would define an electric bicycle as a device with 2 or 3 wheels which has a saddle and fully-operative pedals for human propulsion and an electric motor having a power output of not more than 750 watts. An electric bicycle would meet one of the following three classes:
CLASS 1: Bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 20 mph.
CLASS 2: Bicycle equipped with a throttle-actuated motor that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 20 mph.
CLASS 3: Bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 28 mph.
Cities and towns would retain the right to restrict, regulate, or prohibit the use of e-bikes in parks, paths, and trails. MassBike recommends that in the absence of local ordinances, the slower Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes would be allowed on paths and trails, while the Class 3 e-bikes would only be allowed on roadways.
The e-bike class model also allows municipalities to permit e-bikes on paths or bikeways where they are traditionally not allowed, for example, in the event that an alternative route is considered hazardous.
These regulatory updates would also mean that:
- E-bikes and e-bike riders would not be subject to the provisions of the code relating to financial responsibility, vehicle insurance, driver’s licenses, vehicle registration, or certificates of title.
- Helmets would be required for riders of Class 3 e-bikes
- Persons under 16 years would not be able to ride a Class 3 e-bike, unless as a passenger on a bike designed for that purpose.
- All e-bike manufacturers must apply a standard label to each e-bike specifying its type and wattage.
- Any tampering or modification of the motor would require replacement of the standard label.
- The definitions of motorized bicycle or motor vehicle would exclude that of an electric bicycle.
Want to read more about e-bikes? Click here for our in depth FAQ.
Thank you for your interest in becoming a MassBike member! With your one time gift and annual membership, we can continue our work towards a more bicycle friendly experience for you and other riders in your community. The impact we have across the state grows each year and with your help, Massachusetts can be the number one state for bicycling.
When you become a member, MassBike will keep you informed through emails, social media, and events as to what is going on in your community. We'll keep you connected with updates on work being done in your area. As a member, you're joining a diverse network of members who seek to improve our roads, paths, laws, and educational programs.
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$3,819.23 raisedGOAL: $5,000.00
MassBike is on a mission to shine bright lights across the Commonwealth. As we approach darker months of the year and the fall time-change, rider safety can become more challenging. Throughout the entire month of October and onward, MassBike will raise funds to purchase lights from Planet Bike, to distribute and install on bikes.
Now that October is behind us, we still encourage you to participate in the Lights Brigade! The fundraising and distribution of lights will be on going throughout the year so if you haven't donated yet, please give today!
A huge thank you to all who have contributed to the 2018 Lights Brigade, especially our business partners Digital Lumens, Cycle Massachusetts, Breakstone White & Gluck, and the Charles River Wheelers.
Want to help distribute lights in your community? Please contact us!
Why a Lights Brigade?
As we approach darker months of the year and the fall time-change, rider safety can become more challenging so we want to light up the night and make sure riders are easily seen on the roadways. Simply being seen is one of the most important ways to make a bike rider safer. But too often we find people caught on their bikes with inadequate lighting. This can be a simple lack of awareness or they cannot afford lights. In either case, MassBike wants to help make sure riders are seen on the roadways and get to where they need to go safely.
The lights being distributed will be a front and a rear light from Planet Bike. With replaceable batteries, these lights can be reused at a low cost to the rider.
A donation of just $10 will provide a set of lights to a rider in need!
Can you help us raise awareness of the importance of lights on bikes? Donate today!Donate
Lauren LeClaire published North Shore Cyclists Affiliate Club Membership in Membership 2018-02-27 17:42:34 -0500
As a part of our Affiliate Club Membership program, you, as a member of North Shore Cyclists, can join MassBike for just $10!
WHAT DOES MEMBERSHIP IN MASSBIKE MEAN?
Supporting MassBike with a year long membership will ensure that our statewide work will continue. The impact we have in communities across the state grows each year and with your help Massachusetts can be the number one state for bicycling.
MassBike will keep you informed through emails, social media, and events as to what is going on in your community.
When you join MassBike, you are alongside a diverse network of over 3000 members who seek to improve our roads and paths. Through events and volunteer opportunities, you'll be connected with this exciting group.
- Discounted entry into certain MassBike events
10% Auto insurance discount with Environmental Insurance Agency
Discounted rates on MassBike educational classes
Coupons, discounts, and sponsor samples (subject to availability)
Emails on breaking advocacy news and events
- Your donation is tax deductible to the full extent allowable by law
MassBike believes in businesses that create opportunities for sustainable transit and recreation for their employees and the community. Those companies who have demonstrated commitment to equitable transportation solutions are highlighted here as part of our Business Membership program. In addition to the support of our individual members, MassBike relies on the generous contributions from our partner organizations. Interested in becoming a business member? Email Deputy Director Tom Francis at Tom@massbike.org for more information.
Executive & Presenting
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