CityCyclingEdinburgh Forum » Cycling News

Parliamentary petition to raise e-bike speed to 20mph

(22 posts)
  • Started 5 months ago by boghall
  • Latest reply from LaidBack

  1. boghall
    Member

    Petition (link below) just started to raise the e-bike speed assist limit to 20mph (from the present 15.5) which would, among other things, bring us into line with North American regulations.
    Obviously this is still slower than many fit non-electric cyclists move.
    Among the arguments being cited are that it would align general urban car and bike speed limits, reduce the temptation for delivery riders to tamper with their controllers and, if we take car accident stats as any indication, would be unlikely to have a dramatic effect on injuries.
    Interestingly, there is currently a piece of research being carried out for the European Commission on what if any changes to the law governing personal light electric vehicles may be justified.
    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/654576

    Posted 5 months ago #
  2. neddie
    Member

    I'd rather see a petition to govern the "speed-assist" limit of all vehicles in the city to 15.5mph

    Posted 4 months ago #
  3. neddie
    Member

    And power limited to something similar to e-bikes, scaled for weight. For example a 1.5 tonnes car (15 times the weight of e-bike plus rider) would be limited to around 4kW (or ~5 horsepower). And you don’t get any extra power for heavier SUVs

    Oh, if I were mayor…

    Posted 4 months ago #
  4. Dave
    Member

    Interesting. If they did align ebike speeds with the 20mph zones, that would be about the only reason I can imagine where we'd replace our two existing ebikes to get access to it (or maybe they could be chipped to comply with the new law)

    All our journeys are either downhill towards town where you can do 20mph anyway, or uphill on the way home and about 90% of driver incidents are on the slow uphill

    Posted 4 months ago #
  5. neddie
    Member

    Oops, I forgot about the additional power coming from the rider of the e-bike, maybe 250W during acceleration, so giving a total of 500W.

    So perhaps I could be a bit more generous to cars and allow them an 8kW limit in towns and cities (or 10 horses)

    If I were mayor…

    Posted 4 months ago #
  6. neddie
    Member

    The “Birmingham” video circulating on Twitter just now demonstrates perfectly why cars need to be geofenced and power restricted when in cities

    Posted 4 months ago #
  7. SF
    Member

    I was thinking as much last week, with a taxi at the head of an impatient line of cars pushing up on me as I crossed the railway bridge by Peffer St. northbound.

    Oh for another 4.5mph...

    Posted 4 months ago #
  8. neddie
    Member

    Given that most cars are speeding at 25 to 30mph in 20 zones, I don't think increasing assist to 20mph will help e-bikes keep pace with traffic. The must-get-in-front is strong with drivers. Hell, they'll probably speed more, just to get in front of a 20mph bike

    Posted 4 months ago #
  9. mcairney
    Member

    Hence the need for geo-fenced speed limits for cars! Also is there a link to the petition to keep the e-bike limit as it is? Zoomo's are dangerous enough at 15.5mph

    Posted 4 months ago #
  10. Dave
    Member

    Given that most cars are speeding at 25 to 30mph in 20 zones, I don't think increasing assist to 20mph will help e-bikes keep pace with traffic. The must-get-in-front is strong with drivers. Hell, they'll probably speed more, just to get in front of a 20mph bike

    I'm not sure what the underlying reason is, but you can try it for yourself if you compare riding on roads with a bit of gradient to simulate the motor being able to reach 20. If I compare coming down through Juniper Green to going back up, it's a really huge difference. I've got hardly any headcam footage of incidents going downhill in comparison to the archive going uphill.

    I guess that one factor besides driver behaviour is the length of time you are exposed. 15 vs 20mph journeys mean you're on the road for 1/3rd longer for a start. But I think possibly there's something different in many drivers' heads when they are being held up at the 20 limit versus being held up at what feels like closer to 10mph than 20.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  11. neddie
    Member

    OK, but this assumes that driver behaviour is static which it is not. Driver behaviour becomes modified over time according to the surrounding environment (road design and other road user behaviour).

    You can bet that if drivers see most bikes doing 20mph, over time, they will start to drive faster as well. Induced-speed, if you like. A race to the top (or bottom)!

    Faster speeds for all will certainly lead to more death and injury. We need to do the opposite and ensure equity between road users, allocating the strongest restrictions to those with the most propensity to cause harm. Not by weakening restrictions on "unarmed" lightweight road users...

    Posted 4 months ago #
  12. gembo
    Member

    I was stopped at red light at the Fountainbridge Fox. Guy on bike behind me just decided to cycle through the red light. Then an e-bike deliveroo did the same and then a second more hesitant deliveroo. He received chastisement but I explained he was having to accept it for the previous two.

    This dwindles to nothing when you look at some footage from Brum of a white sports Audi car ploughing into stationary traffic at about 50mph. One death. You see his lights bombing in top right of shot. There is no braking and a long clear road before the stationary cars. He seemed to be trying to smash his way through at speed.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  13. Dave
    Member

    OK, but this assumes that driver behaviour is static which it is not. Driver behaviour becomes modified over time according to the surrounding environment (road design and other road user behaviour).

    You can bet that if drivers see most bikes doing 20mph, over time, they will start to drive faster as well. Induced-speed, if you like. A race to the top (or bottom)!

    I guess a trial would be needed to verify this one way or another, but I wouldn't expect there to be any significant change in driver speeds. After all, changing the entire legal speed limit from 30 to 20 only changed average speeds by 1-2mph.

    On many streets drivers already encounter riders who can go at 20 (think of any north-south commuter route through the city and it has bits like that, whether Morningside, Liberton, Dalkeith Rd, Potterrow, the Mound, Bridges, Lothian rd etc etc)

    You could sort of do a trial already, as you can theoretically buy an s-pedelec and ride it around the UK legally (which looks just like a bike, but does 28mph) but not sure how you'd gather the data.

    I don't think it's a huge priority. Only a small proportion of people can afford an ebike, so even if it made them substantially safer, it's not going to move the big picture. (It would just be very cheap to do, essentially a free software change, versus waiting 12 years for Meadows-canal or CCWEL)

    Posted 4 months ago #
  14. neddie
    Member

    wouldn't expect there to be any significant change in driver speeds. After all, changing the entire legal speed limit from 30 to 20 only changed average speeds by 1-2mph

    This argument is the same one used by the motor lobby to delay the introduction of 20mph limits. Average speeds are misleading because they are skewed higher by a minority of habitual and/or extreme speeders. But even if you were to take average speed as a metric, every 1mph counts, every 1mph reduction is a reduction in deaths and injuries.

    Raising e-bike assist speeds to 20mph will certainly not make riders safer and will certainly result in more deaths and injury. As an example, I'm pretty sure that if a driver right-hooks me, I'd rather be doing 15.5mph as I fly over the bonnet than 20mph. Speed increases the chances of an accident happening and also increases the harm when it does happen.

    People who propose raising speed limits of any kind also need to be prepared to go and speak to the families of the additional people who will die and explain to them why their loved-one was the one that had to go.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  15. neddie
    Member

    The other reason average speeds (as furnished by Dept. for Transport) are misleading is that they are measured during "free flow" conditions on the road. And as "we" all know, most of the roads in the city are almost never in free flow conditions - motorists speeds are limited by many other factors, including (mostly) themselves getting in the way of each other.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  16. Dave
    Member

    Raising e-bike assist speeds to 20mph will certainly not make riders safer and will certainly result in more deaths and injury. As an example, I'm pretty sure that if a driver right-hooks me, I'd rather be doing 15.5mph as I fly over the bonnet than 20mph. Speed increases the chances of an accident happening and also increases the harm when it does happen.

    There's no way changing the limit will ever happen so I can't bring myself to be too passionate about it, but when I switched from my normal bike to ebike a few years ago (because we used it to tow the trailer to nursery for the first few miles, then on into town) I had to switch from Slateford rd to the canal on safety grounds, as I used to just slot into the traffic but wasn't strong enough to do that on the ebike. It changed the commute from having very few interactions with drivers to being constantly overtaken. I think that aligning bike speed with the speed limit can't simply be dismissed as "faster = more dangerous".

    Don't know if anyone remembers, but we used to do a "ride like your gran" day on CCE where you could only use your lowest gear to get some empathy with slower riders. Cycling across Picardy Place and along the bridges at under 10mph definitely didn't feel safer!

    Posted 4 months ago #
  17. neddie
    Member

    I agree there would be benefit in aligning speeds of all vehicles on the roads. But raising the speed of the more vulnerable group is not the way to do it.

    If we genuinely want to align bike speeds to cars, then the only way to successfully do that would be to geo-fence cars in cities to electronically speed-limit them to 15.5mph. Fair's fair!

    Posted 4 months ago #
  18. Dave
    Member

    I love the ambition. That's got to be x1000 more politically challenging than anything the Dutch have ever achieved. We can't even keep a modal filter in place at Silverknowes or Braid rd!

    Posted 4 months ago #
  19. SF
    Member

    For me, the extra oomph would get me away quicker in front of traffic at the lights which is where it seems drivers want to get past soonest. In the city a lot of my on road riding seems to be between red lights where cars force past only for you to pass them while stationary at the next set. Then repeat.

    I definitely feel safer in traffic on the ebike, getting a sprint on to get a gap than slowly winding up to speed on the analogue.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  20. LaidBack
    Member

    Can see both points of view. From retailers point of view we would expect wear and tear to rise considerably with that extra 4 mph. Yes people already ride at above 20mph but extra boost on level and uphill potholed streets will hammer bike parts even more. Right now my average speed with an e-cargo is only 13mph. With limit raised would expect 15 or 16 which is faster than urban car average.
    Would it convert any more drivers? Non e bikes already were fast and cheap to run.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  21. toomanybikes
    Member

    Would definitely feel safer if I could cruise at 20mph everywhere. But would also feel safer if cars actually only did 20mph.

    I hate cycling slowly in the city, interaction with cars behind is so much more frequent + unpleasant.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  22. LaidBack
    Member

    As an aside / point for consideration....

    No matter what max assist speed is legal on an e-bike we still have to co-exist with the majority of cyclists that are unpowered.
    I'm often aware that taking a middle of the road bike lane is easy on an e-bike as can get to speed quickly. Would a bigger speed differential not leave them perceived as even slower or in the way when they have a perfect right to 'take the lane'?
    Maybe some e-bikers already consider themselves in a different category from 'cyclists'?
    Basically the attraction of fast e-bikes is to match car speeds but we also need road layouts where a six year old on their bike can be safe at 8mph.

    Posted 4 months ago #

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