Electric bicycles have seen growing adoption rates among law enforcement agencies, where they have proven to be both nimble enforcement vehicles and an effective way to help cities meet their climate goals. But now we’re seeing that electric bike use taken to a new level.
At the same time as more police departments adopt electric bikes for patrol use, we’ve also seen an uptick in police departments cracking down on private use of e-bikes.
It’s often related to riders using out-of-class electric bikes or non-street-legal homemade machines that don’t fit into the regulatory framework in many jurisdictions.
This is especially common with Sur Ron and Talaria-type electric dirt bikes that some riders attempt to pass off as electric bikes.
These types of offensives have seen increased police scrutiny, even in unorthodox operations such as the use of mounted police on horseback chasing down illegal e-bike riders.
The latest example though, coming out of Washoe County in Nevada, just north of Lake Tahoe, is a new one for us. This might be one of the first cases of police officers using e-bikes to catch illegal e-bike riders. This time, the issue isn’t that the bikes are illegal per se, but rather where they’re being ridden.
A combative ordinance in Washoe County was passed to prohibit electric bikes from using bike paths, instead instructing them to ride on the road with cars.
It puts the county into a minority of areas in the US that are attempting to legislate away e-bikes instead of building up infrastructure for them.
Regardless, the method that the local Washoe County Sheriff’s Office is using to enforce the law is ironically – more e-bikes. The Sheriff’s Office recently bought six new Recon Power e-bikes for code and traffic enforcement, which includes enforcing the law against e-bikes using bike paths.
Alanis Morrissette, eat your heart out.
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