Faster E-Bikes In Danish Bike Lanes: Green Bliss Or Split Skulls?

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Today, the Danish Road Safety Agency released a draft for a trial on letting so-called Speed Pedelecs use bike lanes in the country. Speed Pedelecs are able to reach a motor-assisted top speed of 45 km/h (28 mph) as opposed to standard Pedelec e-bikes that can go 25 km/h (15 mph).

This draft comes after a law covering small personal electric mobility gadgets like roller skates and skateboards was put into effect in december. Needless to say, this new draft has already spurred some strong arguments on both sides.

According to Ingeniøren, the director of the Danish Bicycle Association Cyklistforbundet, Klaus Bondam, thinks this is a deadly proposal:

“It is thoughtless, irresponsible, and extremely dangerous to let [Speed Pedelecs] use the bike paths. It will pose a huge security risk. If this happens, it will cost lives and many will stop cycling due to increased risk of accidents on the bike paths.”

In an answer to the draft, the Danish Council For Safe Traffic agrees:

“Increased speeds — and especially large differences in speeds between different modes of transportation in the same area — will undoubtedly result in more injuries (probably especially children and young people), more insecurity and more conflicts in traffic in general.”

Ingeniøren adds that the spokesperson for transportation in the ruling party Venstre, Kristian Pihl Lorentzen, is confident that the Danish Road Safety Agency will ensure a law that will not jeopardize road safety, and that also takes new technological advancements into account:

“The Danish Road Safety Agency is the supreme authority in this area and I trust their proposal is reasonable and thought through. New kinds of vehicles are emerging on the roads. We must ensure that we have modern, reasonable and safe rules for them.”

Now, I would like to add that both sides have good points. To be perfectly honest, I own legal e-bikes and let’s call them ‘not-so-legal’ e-bikes. And I actually put most of my miles on the legal bikes. My commute is partly 10 miles of countryside with more risk of hitting a cow than hitting a person, and part 10 miles in dense urban traffic with a high risk of hitting a person or another vehicle.

In this context, 15 mph is simply the responsible and safe way to play it. However, when I (maybe) ride my not-so-legal long-wheel-base home-welded shitty-brakes e-bike with a full horsepower at my disposal and a top speed of 30 mph, I do actually slow down in the urban areas. The problem is, a lot of people don’t.

In fact, the bike paths are already deadly, because the rampaging mopeds that are pumped and pimped so hard they go 50 mph (which they almost all are) are loose missiles without guidance systems. Yes, you may hear them, but have you noticed bike riders these days? No helmet, and big earphones with the volume up. Bam!

I don’t know what I feel about this proposal. On the one hand I wish it could come into effect so that my not-so-legal bikes could become legal (for a responsible helmet-wearing slow-down-in-time dude like me), as long as it is accompanied by hard sanctions for irresponsible conduct on those bike paths. On the other hand, I work in forensics, and since so few use helmets, it will probably be a bloodbath.

NOT a home made e-bike NOT having a 750 W motor

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Jesper Berggreen

Jesper had his perspective on the world expanded vastly after having attended primary school in rural Africa in the early 1980s. And while educated a computer programmer and laboratory technician, working with computers and lab-robots at the institute of forensic medicine in Aarhus, Denmark, he never forgets what life is like having nothing. Thus it became obvious for him that technological advancement is necessary for the prosperity of all humankind, sharing this one vessel we call planet earth. However, technology has to be smart, clean, sustainable, widely accessible, and democratic in order to change the world for the better. Writing about clean energy, electric transportation, energy poverty, and related issues, he gets the message through to anyone who wants to know better. Jesper is founder of and a long-term investor in Tesla, Ørsted, and Vestas.

Jesper Berggreen has 243 posts and counting. See all posts by Jesper Berggreen