Members of Evanston’s Transportation and Parking Committee indicated Wednesday night that they’re open to the idea of repealing the city’s ban on electric bicyles and similar devices.

The city adopted the ban in 2012 before the motor-assisted bicyles became a hot new trend in what planners describe as “electric micromobility.”

Since then the federal government has adopted regulations separating the bikes into three classes, based on their speed capacity and whether pedaling is required to operate them, and the state has adopted regulations authorizing their use but permitting more restrictive municipal regulations.

Jessica Hyink, the city’s transportation and mobility coordinator, told the committee that a number of communities are banning e-bikes that don’t require pedaling, but that the City of Chicago allows all three types of e-bikes.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, said she believes the Evanston ordinance should be updated to at least allow Class One bikes — pedal-assisted ones with a maximum speed of 20 mile per hour.

Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, said that as part of a plan to improve bike options in the city in general the city code should be modernized to allow e-bikes.

Hyink said that in some places e-bikes are already being used for delivery services by businesses like florists and bakeries, another way that they could contribute to a reduction in automotive pollution.

Update 4:40 p.m.: Enforcing the existing electric bicycle ban doesn’t seem to be a priority for Evanston police. Cmdr. Ryan Glew says no tickets for violating the e-bike ban have been written so far this year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Banning of e-bicycles

    Since Evanston must post signs alerting bicyclist that bicycling is prohibited on Ridge, how can the city ban e-bicycles without posting signs?

    1. Ridge bikes

      Hi Dan,

      That’s presumably because non-motorized bicycles are legal in Evanston, except where prohibited.

      Many things that are illegal city-wide are not posted. Imagine the fun of trying to post the entire city code on a sign.

      You’ve heard of the saying “ignorance of the law is no excuse”?

      Backyard chickens used to be illegal in Evanston, you may remember, but there weren’t “no chicken zone” signs.

      — Bill

      1. A chicken crossing Ridge.

        Well, it is always possible for Evanston to create an ordinance that prohibits a chicken from crossing Ridge Avenue.

    2. Speaking of Ridge, since

      Speaking of Ridge, since Class 3 e-bikes go 3mph faster than the speed limit there is no reason that a Class 3 e-bike can’t use ridge.

  2. Bikes on sidewalks

    there needs to be more clear signs on storefront streets that need to walk bikes…

    1. The police have ignored this for years

      Despite many letters to the Chief and Aldermen, the police have ignored the bike riding ban downtown. In 1/2 hour around noon, at least 10 bikers ride on Clark from Orrington to Sherman and almost as many on Orrington south from Clark.  Yet it has been seven years since I’ve even seen one stopped. Yes they may have a police car parked there for 1/2 hour, but the office reads or sleeps. One an officer said they would man that street once a week—that lasted one day.

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