⚫ Low-speed e-bikes and e-scooters are the target of NJ legislation

⚫ Opponents fear the move will hit disadvantaged residents the hardest

⚫ Lawmakers admit the measure needs some changes

A number of groups are pushing back against a proposed New Jersey law that would require low-speed electric bikes and scooters to not only be registered with the state, but also carry a type of insurance that doesn't even exist yet.

The Senate Transportation Committee advanced the measure on Thursday, but committee chair Sen. Patrick Diegnan, D-Middlesex, noted that it will likely be amended heavily before moving further.

"I don't think anybody supports the bill exactly as it's written," Diegnan said.

The bill's sponsors are Sen. President Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, and Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth.

What the bill requires

Under the measure, one would not be able to operate a low-speed (around 20 mph) electric bicycle or scooter unless it is registered with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. And the owner would have to maintain liability insurance coverage, personal injury protection coverage for pedestrians, and uninsured motorist coverage.

Benjamin Dziobkek, executive director of Climate Revolution Action Network, said the bill is just an added tax on bike riders, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds and may not be able to afford a car.

"This bill is bad for bikers, it's bad for insurance companies, and it's bad for working class New Jerseyans," Dziobek said.

Does this move NJ backwards?


Advocates said officials' primary focus should be equipping New Jersey with more "bikable" infrastructure, if safety is truly the priority.

"If we discourage e-bike use, it really will reduce our current efforts to reduce road crashes, by pushing more people to continue driving cars," said Debra Kagan, executive director of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition.

If signed into law, the bill says it would go into effect 180 days later.

But, according to Gary La Spisa, vice president of the Insurance Council of New Jersey, it would take longer than six months to develop an insurance product like this "from scratch."

"We're going to need to build in significant time to develop a product, to file it, to roll it out, and make sure it's affordable," La Spisa said. "We're talking years."

La Spisa said affordability would likely be an issue should this bill become law. Insuring e-bikes and e-scooters at the same cost as motorcycles, for example, can be a burden on consumers.

"These are low-speed vehicles. It's very unlikely that they'll cause the same damage as a motor vehicle," La Spisa said.

The measure has been referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

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