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E-Bikes, Introduction

The mission of the Florida Freewheelers (FFW) is to promote cycling at all skill levels and improve cycling safety and awareness in southwest Florida.

In support of these objectives, FFW promotes cycling activities, develops and conducts educational programs on cycling safety and skills, enhances cycling awareness through advertising and community events, and supports the enactment of cycling safety laws, amateur cycling racing, and other charitable organizations with aligned missions.

Electric bikes or E-Bikes represent a variant to other types of generally recognized recreational cycles, including road, mountain, cruiser and commuter bikes. While similar in size and form, their primary difference is that they incorporate battery-powered motors that provide variable assistance in propelling the cycle. E-Bikes are controlled via pedaling intensity, or by a hand-controlled throttle mechanism.

E-Bikes now represent a material portion of bikes that are available for sale in many bike shops and, as a result, are now being purchased in higher numbers by recreational cyclists.
FFW’s policy is to support cycling at all levels and to improve cycling safety. Many members of FFW participate in the Club for those reasons. However, the social benefits of cycling are also significant components to the Club’s attraction and value proposition that support its growth and evolution. Group rides, in particular, are an integral component of the Club’s social activity.

Given the general alignment that E-Bikes have with other forms of recreational cycling, as well as the Club’s mission to advance recreational cycling, the FFW believes it should promote Club membership, and the benefits extending from it to riders of E-Bikes.

E-Bike Definitions

There are three categories of E-Bikes. Category 1 and 2 cycles are limited to a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour. Their difference is primarily a function of how their speed control. Cat 1 cycles regulate their speed via the crankset and through the rider’s pedaling intensity. Alternatively, Cat 2 cycles utilize a hand-activated throttle. Both Cat 1 & 2 cycles may travel on dedicated bike paths or established bike lanes along roadways.

Category 3 bikes are faster and capable of traveling at 28 miles per hour. Speed is controlled exclusively by active peddling, similar to Cat 1 cycles. However, due to their higher rate of speed, Cat 3 E-Bikes are prohibited from using dedicated bike paths.

E-Bike Policy

Members of the Florida Freewheelers may ride bicycles with electric assist motors (E-Bikes) on all Club sponsored rides, tours, and events, under the following conditions:

  1. E-Bike riders will observe and follow FFW Club rules and policies governing ride safety and etiquette absent the provision of any other rules specific to E-Bikes.
  2. E-Bikes eligible to participate in group rides must be pedal-assisted (the bike does not move without pedaling). It may not utilize a throttle, meaning that it must be a Class 1 or Class 3 E-Bike.
  3. Class 2 E-Bikes are prohibited from participating in group rides due to the potential inability to clearly and consistently differentiate throttle-controlled cycles (for example, electric motorcycles) from E-Bikes. This exclusion extends principally from safety considerations consistent with the intent of protecting all riders.
  4. The role of ride leaders remains unchanged. They are responsible for ensuring that all riders are made aware of the ride rules and their responsibility for obeying them and establishing traffic laws. As such, ride leaders are not responsible for determining whether a rider is using an E-Bike or what class of E-Bike a rider may be using.
  5. Similar to conventional cyclists that participate in group rides, ride leaders have the authority to speak with any rider of an E-Bike if, in their judgment, they feel that rider is compromising the safety of others on the ride. This authority also includes making them aware of what they are doing incorrectly or to request that the E-Bike rider maintain a position at the back of the group ride to ensure the safety of others.
  6. E-Bike riders that participate in group rides are responsible for knowing the ride rules and following those rules, with particular emphasis on ride pace.
  7. E-Bikes may participate in all group rides regardless of speed.
  8. On group rides with a pace of 21 mph or less, E-Bike riders may ride anywhere within the group and rotate through the paceline along with all other riders. However, when assuming the front position on a paceline, E-bike riders may not accelerate the pace of the group. They may only maintain the established pace, or safely reduce it in the event a hazard exists that should be prudently observed to protect other riders in the group.
  9. On rides with speeds that are higher than 21 mph, E-Bike riders must remain at the back of the group at all times. On higher speed rides, E-Bike riders should recognize and respect that there is a direct and critical correlation of ride speed, rider experience, and rider skill that contributes to, or conversely, can undermine the safety of all riders in the group. More directly, most riders that possess the physical stamina to ride at high speeds also have acquired a high level of riding skill through multiple years of training and other experience. These skills are essential to maintaining the safety of riders at high speed. Out of respect to that fact, E-Bike riders may only participate in group rides where the established pace is equal to or slower than rides they have demonstrated experience with, preferably experience they have developed previously on a conventional cycle.

E-Bike Rules of Etiquette

  • It is bad form for any E-Bike rider to aggressively pass regular bike riders when proceeding up grades or in noticeably adverse wind conditions. This is consistent with Policy # 8.
  • An E-Bike rider should ride to support and maintain the pace of the other riders. This is consistent with Policy # 8.
  • An E-Bike rider is responsible for ensuring they have sufficient battery reserves to enable them to complete the ride they have chosen without assistance from other riders. It is not the Ride Leader’s responsibility to ensure that the E-Bike rider is safely returned to the starting point should they run out of battery. However, while established rider etiquette will most likely result in other riders remaining with them through the remainder of the ride, that should not be an expectation of E-Bike riders.
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